What’s your “touch history”?
Matthew Tomasino, licensed massage therapist, asked that question during his enlightened workshop presentation, “Awakening the Brain through Clinical Touch and Aromatherapy”, at The Greens at Greenwich.
Matthew had us think carefully about the importance of touch in our lives and how it has evolved from childhood to today. We discussed cultural taboos as well as norms.
Every Friday Matthew is at The Greens at Greenwich to see our residents and offer them healing touch and aromatherapy. Each of our residents has memory impairment, but somehow, Matthew is a very familiar figure.
Upon seeing him they will ask for a touch on a shoulder, a neck or a sore leg. The first touch is holding hands. When Matthew takes their hand, eye contact is made and a smile comes across their face.
A true human connection is recalled from week to week.
On the last Friday of the month, the staff is treated to a gentle massage and it makes all the difference in their understanding of the power of giving and receiving human touch. I am convinced it makes them more sensitive care givers.
At the workshop the group discussed the challenge in our society regarding the sexualizing of touch. Having done this, we have lost the appreciation of the need humans have for touch, from a handshake to a hug and everything in between and beyond.
At The Greens we understand its value and practice it with kindness and love. Seeing the response Matthew receives, we have all become very sensitized to the “how” and “why” of touch.
Touch awakens our brain, as does scent. They can calm, agitate but most importantly, practiced with care and compassion, both are known to heal.
If you’re caring for a family member with dementia or a memory impairment, don’t discount how the power of touch and scent. A simple hug, human touch, a long-forgotten smell – all of these can make a world of difference for someone struggling with memory.
And it might be the difference between making a real connection with them and letting the moment pass by.
Let us all become more aware of the power of giving and receiving. It can awaken our brains and our human hearts.