New Civilization News: Using Healthy Touch to Support and Nourish our Elders & Care Givers    
 Using Healthy Touch to Support and Nourish our Elders & Care Givers20 comments
picture2 Nov 2005 @ 13:31, by Gerald Vest

It is taken for granted in American culture that the individual will identify with his/her emotions and follow their dictates. In recent decades, such dubious cultural values have infected more and more people, with access to greater material wealth, at the same time that the business/religions of our culture have evolved ever more cunning pitches to our emotions. This dynamic is now fueling the disintegration of that culture, heedless of the long range consequences as long as the short-term balance sheet looks good. (Tarthang Tulku - Gesture of Balance)

I am proposing that we develop a partnership for introducing Healthy Touch Programs for our Elders and Care Givers on a global scale. This initiative will include using our 15 Minute StressOut Program & DVD with elders and care givers in nursing homes, home-based services, outreach services, border programs, day care, shelters, hospice, hospitals, assisted living arrangements, and other resources for the aging population. This program is widely used with all populations, groups and varied organizations with great success. Because guidlines for the safe use of touch are clearly identified and reinforced by the workers,the StressOut Program is ideal for the use with our elders and caregivers. And, our volunteers have already given the 'stressout' to over 10,000 participants. 15-Minute StressOut Program

The use of touch for promoting health, wellness and disease prevention is an ancient approach to medicine that was introduced over 2,000 years ago in China. According to Eisenberg (1993), “Millions of Americans are already using massage, meditation, acupuncture, and herbal remedies of all kinds, without their doctors’ recommendations.” These alternative health practices are used not only for stress reduction but also for relief of pain, heart disease, anxiety, and inability to sleep. Furthermore, in his dialogue with Bill Moyers in Healing and the Mind, Eisenberg suggested that in the Chinese culture, it is believed that how you live ultimately influences your health: “It’s not just diet or exercise; it’s also a spiritual or emotional balance that comes from the way you treat people and the way you treat yourself. And, since that’s the basis of their culture, it spills over into their medicine.” (Eisenberg, D. (1993), “Another way of seeing;” B.S. Flowers & D.Grubin (Eds.), Healing and the mind: Bill Moyers, NY: Doubleday.)

Our elders are perhaps one of the most abused, neglected and forgotten groups throughout our country and beyond. Our aging population is often considered the ‘throw away’ generation as they are considered non-productive and of little value to a society that bases its success, worth and values on “the bottom line” and on “winners and losers.” Of course, this is a short sighted, limited view of human worth, dignity and self-respect; yet, many of our elderly are continuing to suffer from stress, anxiety and depression and are barely surviving while struggling to meet their basic human needs. US Census

The world population is growing, and it's also growing older. Researchers say birth and death rates are gradually falling worldwide, increasing the number and overall proportion of older people. For many societies, caring for all those aging citizens could be difficult.

The United Nations estimates that about one out of every 10 people on the planet today is at least 60 years old. By 2050, it's projected to be one out of five which means that not only will there be more old people, there will be relatively fewer young people to support them. (“Aging World Population Presents Challenge for Future Young,” Barry Newhouse)

Furthermore, Mr. Newhouse notes:

Some governments see family support systems as a way to avoid the financial problems that industrial nations face with their publicly-funded safety nets. But he says history has shown that familial support systems are generally weakened when nations become more prosperous -- as fewer children live with and care for their parents. And he says if the nations wait too long, it may be too late.

It is for these reasons and because of our compassion for others, especially our elders that our international community can begin to awaken to this dilemma and develop collaborative support systems and networks such as NCN to promote universal health promotion and wellbeing with our aging populations and care givers.

I would like to introduce a beginning Action Plan - An Outline for Advancing the use of Touch with Our Elders in my next NCN News Log. We can help ease the pain, suffering and neglect of our elders and support our care givers throughout our World. I believe that together we can design a plan that has a chance to be realized when each person or individual interested in contributing to the wellbeing of others understands and appreciates that physical interaction or human touch is a BASIC HUMAN NEED or REQUIREMENT for living a meaningful, dignified and healthy life. Beyond this is the fact that when humans do not interact physically, they become angry, depressed and become isolated and alone in the world. This is far too evident in our American society today. In a recent visit to a nursing home, one of the residents told me--“There must be something wrong with me – no one wants to touch me!” How sad is this?

The languages of the senses, in which all of us can be socialized, are capable of enlarging our appreciation and of deepening our understanding of each other and the world in which we live. Chief among these languages is touching. [Touch is] “The powerful means of establishing human relationships, the foundation of experience. (Ashley Montague, Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin),

In an article our health team published using “Alternative Health Practices in Ethnically Diverse Rural Areas: A Collaborative Research Project,” (1997), we discovered that our touch program was successful in alleviating pain and suffering and reducing the blood sugar levels with diabetic patients in rural health clinics. We also did a successful follow-up program with persons diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease living in nursing homes in southern New Mexico. [link]

I believe that, with your help, we can use “safe, skillful and appropriate touch” with all populations and especially with our elders who have been neglected, disrespected and abused for far too long. Let’s give TOUCH a chance to heal and to nourish our human family.

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2 Nov 2005 @ 14:36 by rayon : Yes, one can certainly go with this
in my "tradition" the recommended putting on of oil to the hands and head should be done by a friend for another, especially for the mature ones. I can add to this for the younger dashing around types that to oil the feet before retiring makes for a calmer night. Perhaps we should not overlook the touch element in this traditional benefit!

Thanks for your response, Nora. For sure, massaging the feet is perhaps one of the best things we can do for ourseleves and others. I do my wife's feet and hands several times a week and she just falls asleep as it is so relaxing. Makes me feel good also.  

2 Nov 2005 @ 16:44 by azangel : Count me in...
I would graciously accept being a part of your team ..As you know, I currently work in a assisted living facility. There are 34 residents that live inside the facility and then there are over 150 residents that reside on the property in their own apartments. I work there as a Massage Therapist, with my own "healing room" and I also work as a certified nurses aide on the floor, assisting the residents with their daily needs. I offer a 50% discount to my senior clients because I truly want them to reap the benefits. I love being in this environment and feel it is where I am supposed to be. My goal is to educate the seniors that live in this community on the benefits of not only therapeutic massage but also make them aware of the beauty and healing powers of the human touch. I also have 15 years of Hospice experience and I truly believe in its mission in caring for the dying. I embrace your vision and would love to contribute in any way that I can. Keep me posted..  

2 Nov 2005 @ 20:04 by jerryvest : Terrific, Laura....I'm so happy that you
will be joining our team and using your many skills to promote health and wellbeing in your setting and in others. One of the things that I did not mention in the article is that our "stressout program" includes the awareness of the breath throughout the experience. We have found that when the giver of the stressout connects their breath with the receiver, both experience a relaxation response. This is especially noticable during the "laying-on-of-hands" experience. While breathing together both partners experience an empathic connection.

I'm also looking to add a research component to this project, so I'll keep you posted.

Thanks again, Laura.


2 Nov 2005 @ 21:01 by jstarrs : I'm in awe of your
persistance, Jerry...
I'll try and see where I can pass this on, too.
Thank you so much for your caring for our mothers (& fathers).
Here's a story that happened to me the other day.
I was on the underground train here in Toulouse, quite crowded.
On the edge of my vision, I caught a black guy, rasta, with a scooter, mumbling to himself.
He immediately stood up and offered his seat to some old ladies, one of whom sat down, then he engaged them in conversation and the heart feeling was throbbing on both sides.
The next station, he passed me to get out and I quietly thanked him and in the space of a millisecond, he said 'the old one's have the experience, I learn from that and it's a shame we don't have more time to talk...'
"Right", I said.
I was a lovely moment, that caring and recognition of our elders experience.
I probably already passed this link on to you, if so, excuses...

Thanks, are always so kind and supportive. Do pass this on to others as I'm hoping we can expand our international relations and touch program. I liked your train story and the meditation practices that you sent me. They are really excellent and I used them during my surgery when you sent them to me. This is a great message of compassion for those of us working with our elders.

"Loving Kindness meditation
One of the hardest things about suffering is the feeling that we are trapped in our painful circumstances--lost, hopeless, and alone. We fear our suffering will go on forever, and that there is no way out of it. And when we don't know how to transform or heal our own suffering, we may find it difficult to be with and support others in distress." (Tonglen)

This really does lend support for us to interact more with our elders who are often experiencing this distress.  

8 Nov 2005 @ 02:55 by vibrani : Absolutely Jerry
this is a very important need for all people, not just the elderly or infirmed. People need touch, healing touch. When my mother was sick with Alzheimer's and had a couple of strokes, she spent the last few years of her life in bed, unable to do anything on her own. For the last ten years of her life, and especially intensely during the last three, I and her personal nurses would daily do all kinds of touch work - energetic, massage, reflexology. My mother could feel the energy work I did and her body reacted to it, even though she couldn't see or speak any longer. This work helped to relax her hands and arms that were bundled up in fists with atrophied muscles, and swelling in her feet. I do believe all this aided her in being more at peace and comfort and assisted in her passing over very peacefully.

Another aspect of the elderly care is abuse and theft - in homes and hospitals that are supposed to be protecting and caring for them.  

8 Nov 2005 @ 15:21 by jerryvest : Vibrani, thanks for your response
and for sharing your experience of touch with your mother. I can't think of anything more beneficial than touch for those suffering from Alzheimers. I also introduced some touch work with my father-in-law during his illness with this disease. Also, during a research venture, we gave our touch program twice a week for six weeks to all of the Alzhiemer patients living in nursing homes in our community. The staff reported that during and after the sessions, the entire environment of the setting was improved. The residents were calm and no longer agitated. Unfortunately, many nursing homes still use constraints when the patients become agitated rather than use healthy touch and techniques such as "the laying on of hands."

We are about to organize a volunteer group that will support our elders in these institutions with touch and breathing exercises so that they can experience the comfort and nourishment that these interventions offer.

You also raise a good point about abuse and theft in these settings. It is about time for our communities to awaken to these terrible conditions that exist for our elders througout the world. Supporting the dignity, care and respect of our aging populations should be a priority for our communities. Unfortunately, our elders with limited resources are treated like prisoners with little regard for their health and wellbeing.  

16 Nov 2005 @ 17:26 by jerryvest : Using Touch to Support & Nourish our
Elders is on its way here in southern New Mexico. I have contacted several senior volunteer programs for nursing homes and home based service and the staff are very enthusiastic about developing and administering the program. I have also contacted our Field Coordinator for our School of Social Work and she is also interested in helping us get students to do their field practicum with us during the semester.

Please let me know if you are interested in developing similar services in your communities. I'll be happy to serve as a volunteer consultant to assist you in advancing the use of touch throughout the World.

Best wishes,


17 Nov 2005 @ 18:16 by rayon : You know what, there
is a film on the (b/w) 'first' known person in Europe, a nursing woman, who was caring for a child with polio around about WW2, she insisted that massage and touch would improve the boy child's condition. She was fighting for his recovery. I saw it many many years ago and can remember no more. Film dictionaries allow a search by subject matter, it would be there.  

17 Nov 2005 @ 19:34 by jerryvest : Thanks Nicola for the resource.
The Touch Research Institute at the Miami School of Medicine has volumns of research on the benefits of massage, Tai Chi, Acupressure and other integrative health practices for the elderly and others. There is no doubt that touch has beneficial results for all populations; however, many of our health professions continue to limit their physical interaction with their clients out of fear and self-imposed boundary issues. This is especially true in nursing homes and with our mental health professionals.

A colleague and I introduced touch to the helping professions in Israel a few years ago as she saw that the Alzheimer's patients in nursing homes were being neglected and only "instrumental touch" was permitted in their institutions. While participating in a Global Conference on Aging, it was reported that similar policies are present in most social systems throughout the world. It is for this reason that I want to use touch with our elders and because we know that the power of touch, united with the vitality of the breath, produces a relaxation response and an empathic union between givers and receivers of touch. We have clearly established guidelines for the safe use of touch so there is no reason that our elders should continue to be neglected and denied the use of a basic human need and health requirement. {link:}

Thanks for staying-in-touch.


17 Nov 2005 @ 22:08 by soultruth : Reiki also
My mom taught me Reiki at a very young age and I grew up with Healing Touch in this form more than the usual medications and doctors. I was taught that everyone on the planet should be (at a minimum) Level 1 Reiki.

Healing Touch and Reiki, of course, are very similar. Our very souls are a part of the Universal Energy and therefore benefit most highly from this intention and touch. We have within us, the power to manifest the most glorious things, health and well being is just one of them. This would be great to pass this on to many.  

18 Nov 2005 @ 00:07 by jerryvest : You are very fortunate to have
such a mom. Your articles here on NCN reflect love and understanding so you are demonstrating and living what you have received. Our family is much like yours in this regard. Our kids, now adults, and my grandkids grow up with their feet and heads in our hands and their seats in our laps during meditation. Touch is a very important part of our life. As kids, they loved our meditation groups--mantras, dancing, theatre, music--tai chi moved too slow for my son. However, he became very proficient in Karate.

Yes, Reiki is a very exquisite form of healing. I have several Reiki colleagues and have learned much from their use of touch and intention. I have designed my touch program using Kum Nye acupressure points. We use them in the wrists, finger joints, center of palm of hand, web of thumbs, several points on the face, forehead, tips of shoulder blades, arms, between vertabrae on the back, ridge at the base of the skull, and crown point. We use some massage techniques throughout the experiences--brushing and feathering, squeezing some muscles and fingers, etc. Do visit our protocol to learn more about our method. {}

The most powerful experience we have as partners (givers & receivers) is the laying-on-of-hands. We begin the 'stressout' series with partner breathing exercises so that both giver and receiver experience the power of touch united with the vitality of the breath. So the giver and receiver maintain breathing awareness from beginning to end. And, as you so wisely share..."We have within us, the power to manifest the most glorious things.... Thank you SoulTruth for passing on your love and healing energies here.

We repeat the 'laying-on-of-hands' twice during the program and internally repeat "We Are One." The giver rests her hands on her partner's shoulders and they breathe together during this interactive experience. We hold this for a minute or more and we feel our hands melting into our partner's shoulders while breathing together as one body, mind and spirit.  

18 Nov 2005 @ 08:00 by soultruth : thanks
Thanks Jerry, your program sounds great and very complete. Please keep us updated. :))  

18 Nov 2005 @ 13:33 by sprtskr : Jerry
have u heard of the silva mind control way of self healing? Please look it up and let me know what you think. I got a tape from a guy who tried it and it also worked for me.The tape has alpha vibration I believe its 14 beats,it sounds like a helicopter to me anyways. On the site you can get a download free.  

18 Nov 2005 @ 13:51 by jerryvest : Hi Sprtskr...yes, I went to an
orientation session with a colleague many years ago. It is a very old program and may have been updated since my visit. We were not impressed with it at all and actually walked out. I don't recall the specifics so will look into it again. I hope you are feeling has been some time since we talked. Are you through with those nasty cigs? If you are, I'll bet your breathing is much better.  

18 Nov 2005 @ 13:56 by sprtskr : hi
Yes its been at least three months now and Im feeling much better in that area. I dont have that smokers cough that kept me up all night. Thanks for asking. I have tried the alpha tape and felt results in my aching joints for about 12hrs. I hope your well also.  

18 Nov 2005 @ 15:00 by jerryvest : I'm really feeling great these
days and my PSA is .01 following two blood tests since my surgery in June. The Inversion Table has totally relieved my arthritis in my back and my body-mind loves this gravity flow. I am also walking 18 holes on the golf course, doing my tai chi and yoga regularly and riding my bike. So, life is good and able to stay up with my 3 grandkids, some days. :) Thanks for staying in touch. I'm glad to learn that you have successfully kicked the big habit--it's really a dangerous thing as my wife will attest. She also is doing great these days.

Much love,


19 Nov 2005 @ 15:55 by sprtskr : inversion table
can u explain what that means? Maybe I too can get some help that way.  

19 Nov 2005 @ 16:31 by jerryvest : For sure, Sprtskr....
I posted an article on my May 19 Newslog titled "Holistic Self CAre Practice" that includes some discussion and some very good links related to the Inversion Table. I use it several times during the day and find that it not only relieves my back, but my whole body and mind become relaxed.

Thanks for your inquiry. The research is well documented and many of the articles come from excellent professional journals. Several of my colleagues have now purchased the Inversion Table after trying it out in my health studio. It is the best $325.00 that I have spent for health care in a long time as I no longer need chiropractic or osteopathic adjustments, my alignment is greatly improved and I no longer have pain in my vertabrae.  

19 Nov 2005 @ 19:30 by judih : great hearing about yr fine form, jerry
It's good news you're offering and fine advice about the Inversion Table. Such a simple gravitational way to relax - hope others are listening to your experience and try it themselves. My daughter has been relaxing inverted for years (she's 10)Beginner's mind!

best to you and your family.  

20 Nov 2005 @ 00:52 by jerryvest : Thanks, Judih...and, also
thanks for your generous and creative energies that you manifest on NCN. I am so happy that I have an Israeli sister to interact with. You have also inspired my little boy, in me, that loves to play--dance, paint, sing and play dolls with my granddaughters and grandson. I had never realized how powerful these doll babies are in the early child's development, although the research and theories of development tell us so. We always invent a story and play it out as we've discussed before. I've learned that the best meditations for me occur in concert with innocent children who freely express themselves, without expectation and judgment. Happiness for me is being and playing with my grandkids.  

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