For a moment, stop and recall what it feels like to have your hands massaged. Something as simple as having one’s hands massaged can have a healing effect.
What sensations and words come into your mind? I think of words like soothing, relaxing, peaceful and “oh, that’s so nice!” Almost everyone will appreciate a hand massage, even men.
Several years ago when I was in Haiti, we visited the House of the Dying, a place where the terminally ill reside until their passing. I did not speak their language; so I couldn’t talk to them, but I did have a bottle of hand lotion; so, I went from cot to cot and offered to massage each woman’s hands. I didn’t have to say anything. I filled my mind with loving thoughts and feelings, and prayed that my love would be communicated through my hands to each woman’s body mind and soul. As I massaged, I could feel each woman relax and be more peaceful.
By using hand massage in your caregiving, you not only help the recipient, but you also will relax and be blessed. Giving hand massages gives a caregiver something to do beyond saying words. According to research by neuroscientist Edmund Rolls, physical touch activates the part of the brain that is linked to feelings of compassion.
Some tips for giving a hand massage:
- Check with the people in charge of a facility: are there any health regulations that would prohibit you from giving a hand massage?
- Wash your hands.
- Use unscented lotion to avoid allergic reactions.
- Ask the person for permission to give a hand massage.
- When you begin, rub the person’s hands gently. If you’ve ever had your hands massaged, perhaps it will help to remember: What motions felt the most relaxing to you?
Human touch, when used with permission, is a wonderful way to provide care for another person. Consider using the pleasant healing touch of a hand massage in your caregiving.