15MinuteStressOut proves to be Essential for Elders suffering from Lack of Touch..... Alzheimers......Diabetes
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 Professor Vests' 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.
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Professor Vest "Stresses Out" with the elderly
My discovery of the15Minute StressOut Program was a case of serendipity. I met the creator of the program, Jerry Vest, at a CPR class and he recruited me to give the stress out program at a senior center. It is now something I look forward to every week. I am very fortunate that I am in a situation where I am able to do so.
When I administer the program, I can feel energy traveling out of my hands into the receiver. It is a wonderful experience. It gives me a very maternal and compassionate feeling.
Someone asked me why I give the stress outs. My response was, “Someone has to do something to counteract all the junk that goes on in the world.” I have believed in altruism for a quite a while. Any good that we do is like throwing a pebble into a pool. It travels outward and touches everything. Ultimately, the only gift we can give to the world is service. While I realize that my contribution is very small, I have an obligation to do what I can. Doing the stress outs is good for me and for the people receiving the program. It is a win-win situation and I intend to continue administering the program as long as I am able.
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.)
Professor Vest "Stresses Out" a nursing student
Jerry Vest website http://jerryvest.pages.qpg.com/id14.html
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.
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 people, there will be relatively fewer young people to support them. ("Aging World Populations 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.
Nursing student "stresses out" with the elderly
Stress, Alzheimers, Diabetes and the Elderly-excerpts from professor Vests Blog
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. We have already successfully given our 'stressout' to over 30,000 participants so we know how nourishing and supportive our touch program can be for our Elders--and, for both the givers and receivers.
Linda Schaberg, RN, is instructor for our New Mexico State University,
community health nursing class that provides "stressouts" in our city of Las Cruces diabetic clinics and offers training programs for seniors and care-givers to learn how to give our chair type massage. Linda responds to Seth's message and this research article:
I am happy to read this article because I can see that researchers are starting to listen to others about the subject of touch. Here is America we have gotten so far away from touching others that we are now probably the most untouched society on the face of the earth. I have always believed in the power of touch and what it can do for someone who is hurting, sad, lonely, and deteriorating in a nursing home environment. We have gotten to the point that we cannot touch children or someone will say we are molesting them. It is my hope that we who are in favor and excited about the power of touch can turn America back to when it was ok to hug a child, and touch someone without there being some hidden meaning behind the touch. I believe this will lessen sickness, loneliness, will ease pain and promote healing in a way that has never before been seen in the medical profession. With the researchers and the medical profession recognizing the power of touch perhaps we can return healing touch to the healthcare profession where it can be utilized by those who are the recipients as well as those who will be providing it.
Thank you so much for what you are teaching us about the power of touch and how it can be used to promote well care instead of the sick care we have been dealing with for so long.
Just when we think it can't get any better, Cat, our team leader for the Alamogordo, NM stressout team, shares her team experience with giving our program with Alzheimer residents in this community:
The elders and the employees at Casa Arena (in Alamogordo) are also very responsive to the Stress-Outs. I have to admit, in the beginning, I was a little skeptical about the impact that we would have on the individuals that we would be working with. It’s hard to believe, but I immediately saw the positive impact that we had and could potentially continue to have in the future. The experience that opened my eyes was real encouraging for me.
I was working with one woman, Ms. Anita (an Alzheimer patient), and I was trying to engage her in some friendly conversation, but she wasn’t responsive. In fact she specifically said, “I just want to relax.” So I respected her wishes and continued with the stress out. But she came around mid-way through. She began telling me of her childhood and how her dad would do wood working when she was a child. I am not sure what triggered such thoughts, but Ms. Anita was definitely happy. She was beaming as she recalled these pleasant thoughts. I know for a fact that it had something to do with the Stress-Outs. It allowed us to gain a connection—through the power of touch. It’s definitely moving to be able to lift the spirits of others and make them feel better.
To my fellow classmates, please continue to keep up the hard work. I know that it is hard with all of the commitments that we have and our busy schedules, but this is of great value for both the giver and the receiver. Our work does not go unnoticed or and it is greatly appreciated. : )
As a global project with the New Civilization Network , we are continuing to advance the use of touch with elders and to serve as a model program for other communities around the world to hook up with us. Together we will help to improve the quality of lives, health and relationships for all those we serve and touch. Do join us. As one of my teachers so aptly put it: "Don't wait for the bus, it may never arrive."
Shortly after posting this log, I received an excellent note from one of our other team leaders in Alamogordo, NM who has been giving 'stressouts' with Altzheimer's patients in nursing homes. This is her experience as she describes it:
Alzheimer's is a very sad disease. Just knowing there is no cure and for those who have this dreadful disease no hope for a future. As I have been working in the nursing home giving stress outs to people with Alzheimer's I have become more aware of it's devastating effect on a person.
I know there is no cure but I do believe that the touch we have been giving to those we have been working with has made them feel a little more alive that they did before we started. I saw a lady who had not been talking very much start talking and telling me all about her childhood. She then told another worker all about dancing and having fun. It was good to see her come as alive and alert as she could. She told us that she was having a very good day and that she was very happy. That made us happy as well.
I truly believe that touch can alleviate some of the effects of the disease and can make the remainder of the lives of those with the disease more comfortable and tolerable. It reminds me of the song of years past, "Reach out and touch somebody's hand and make this world a better place if you can". We can and we should!
I only wish that I could post more pictures of our participants, but we don't want to do it without their permission. However, we are now giving over 150 stressouts a week with our elders in nursing homes, health clinics, in-home care and other elder and caregiver programs.
Dear friends and Team Members,
I want to thank everyone for your contributions to our Las Cruces Health Promotion Team with Elders during the past year (April 1, 2006-April 1, 2007). We certified 65 team members and gave 3,500 stressouts in our 4 health centers and nursing homes during this past year. This is very impressive and I'm sure that we have contributed to the health and wellbeing of our participants and wider community.
These figures do not include the 90 caregivers who participated in our stressout program during the City-wide Conference. Also, the LC In-home Care Program includes the stressout as part of their daycare program with Alzheimers so their clients receive the stressout regularly. Our BSW students gave stressouts every Tuesday morning during this Sp 07 term, along with Christy with these participants.
It is great that our College of Health & Human Services -social work, nursing and health science students-- are all represented and working together in our touch program. Our elder team members, Ann and Elizabeth, are the pillars of our organization and they are to be commended for giving stressouts every week at Mesilla Park and East Side Centers. Our goal is to have at least 2 team members in each diabetic clinic.
During the next few months, Francesca and her staff will be introducing and teaching our program with nursing home staff and in the Fall Semester, we are hopeful that nursing and social work students and others will continue to join with us in our outreach activities.
Finally, as one of our students mentioned today during our stressout program at Good Samaritan..." I felt as though I was receiving much more energy in return for giving the stressout." Integrative Health Forum
The Second Global Conference on Ageing - Jerusalem, Israel
Shalom. I am honored that I was invited to represent our New Mexico State University program on "The Use of Skillful, Safe, and Appropriate Touch for Self-Care and to Nourish and Support our Elders" at the Second Global Conference on Ageing, Jerusalem, Israel, September 17-21, 1995.
I want to especially thank my new found friend and colleague Ms. Haya Daskal, Deputy Director of the State of Israel, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Department of International Relations, for serving as co-presenter in the conference and Social Ministry workshops. Ms. Daskal is a creative social worker advocating for the use of touch in the helping professions of Israel. I would not have had this exceptional experience without her partnership and determination to open the door for physical communication with our elders and for the courage she displays in promoting the power of touch.
Dr. Yitschak Brick, Director-General, Eshel Association and Chairman of the local organizing committee of the International Conference and Mr. Avraham Lavine, Director, Department of International Relations provided us with support, confidence and assisstance in bringing "the power of touch" with the Elderly to the Conference. Finally, I am grateful for the leadership that our session Chairman Shmuel Friedman provided and for his enthusiasm and spirit of friendship that he generated during our visit to Israel.
The following abstracts give brief descriptions of our co-presentations at the two workshops that we developed for this conference and for the Center for Gerontological Research.
The Power of Touch and Its Influence on the Well-Being of the Elderly
by Director Haya Daskal
"Does physical touch affect the quality of life of the aged?"
In my practical work as a third-year social work student at a day-centre for the aged, I experienced day-to-day relationships with elderly persons and felt their longing for expressive
physical touch as opposed to instrumental touch. Studies show that the use of tactile sensation, a primitive sensory sense, decreases with age and communication is replaced by other means, such as sight and hearing. In old age, when these or other senses are functionally impaired or disappear altogether, both the psychological and physical needs arise to experience the primary sense - physical touch. In our times when life expectancy is prolonged, the chances of remaining alone after one's partner has died are greater. A situation is created in which elderly persons live alone for many years without experiencing the power of touch.
Israel was a perfect setting for the 2nd Global Conference on Ageing. In fact, we were fortunate to be there during the celebration of its 3000 year anniversary. Israel has preserved its history and displayed its religious and cultural artifacts in beautiful museums that are breathtaking or rather, "breath giving." Although the country is very ancient, the people are industrious, youthful and spirited. Our hosts, many of those mentioned in our introduction, are warm, affectionate and skillful professionals devoted to providing quality services to their citizens while openly sharing and inviting discussion and debate.
I thank them for providing this contribution to my education and for creating a climate of trust and an environment for learning. Best wishes to my dear friends throughout the world who attended and participated in our workshops and integrated touch into their programs for the elderly.