The Power of Professional Touch in Elder Care

The Power of Professional Touch in Elder Care

A recent article in the “i” newspaper on the future use of robots to be companions to lonely elders from diverse backgrounds, left us in quite a reflective state of mind. Whilst it seems at first glance there could be so many options, the article itself (written by Tom Peck, 17th October) points out the pitfalls in no uncertain terms.

Just think of your own elders and imagine them, if you can, having a discussion on any topic with a white, doe-eyed, plastic robot? I venture to suggest you will soon come to the conclusion; “It doesn’t compute.”

elder with robot

At OTB we are completely aware that nothing stays the same and that research and development is key to ensure we all benefit from technological advancements. But there is surely a limit when it comes to trying to offer “soft skills” from robots?

The robot may be programmed to the hilt on cultural diversity, history, geography ( for those who have travelled extensively in their lives ) but will she be able to manifest the personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people? We are not convinced. Pepper is the brain child of a group of Middlesex University students and is promoted as the first Artificial Intelligence Robot that can hold a discussion with you on diverse cultural backgrounds. It is so important as the students progress their creation, to understand that it is not just the conversation that our elders would welcome but also perhaps a hand on their hand to calm and reassure them should the discussion bring back any anxious memories or give them a hug as you leave.

At Outsidethebox the positive power of humanoid touch to enrich the quality of living in older age is what motivates us. These tenets below form the basis of our work with elders whether they live in their own homes, are based in residential, assisted living, or dementia care locations.

Professional Touch can be powerful in modulating emotion.

Professional Touch can play a role in nurturing social communication.

Professional Touch can increase quality of life.

Professional Touch can decrease stress in different surroundings.

Whereas for most adults the act of booking in to have “a facial” usually translates that you seek a “pamper session”. For an older person the fact it can help with relaxation or reduce anxiety and insomnia is even more relevant. Facial touch increases alpha brainwave activity associated with relaxed mental states. Gentle professional touch particularly helps older people feel, good altering their anxious emotional state and bringing about calm.
It has been found that stroking the face gently works on the C-Tactile fibres releasing neurotransmitters: the loving and bonding hormone Oxytocin and the rewarding hormone Dopamine.

At OTB we can also teach gentle face and head massage techniques which can increase relaxed mental states by continuing self-massage application after a OTB Holistic Massage session.

What makes an OTB Holistic Massage or Natural Facial Session so special for elders is that each is tailored to the intrinsic needs of the individual…now surely as good as she may become, Pepper the Robot is nowhere close to matching this very key human Unique Selling Point….CARING Personal Care.

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