Saddleworth Dementia Friends Champion Helen Morris, from Dobcross, shares some thoughts on sharing human touch.
I AM taking a break from the book ‘Words for a Journey’ (T. Iba & M. Okada) this month to draw attention to the amazing power of human touch.
Some of my friends in care have been living with dementia for many years and find it hard to express themselves in lots of ways.
But it’s clear to see the joy expressed in their eyes and smiles when you take hold of their hands for a while. One lady has developed a desire to kiss me, quite often, and there is a huge debate about whether this is appropriate – am I abusing her trust in responding to her desire for closeness?
The safeguarding of vulnerable adults is absolutely essential of course, and maintaining a person’s dignity forms a crucial part of this protocol.
I have known this lady a long time now and know that five years ago she would not have acted in this way. So, am I compromising her dignity exchanging fond kisses on the cheek or maintaining her ‘sense of self’?
I believe it’s the ‘here and now’ that matters. Keeping that person feeling loved, safe and comfortable is the best thing we can all do.
So although I don’t know who she thinks I might be in her life, I know she craves physical affection and I think that’s perfectly understandable.
When the world becomes a confusing place to live, there’s something deeply human in making contact hand in hand or with a kiss on the cheek.
In conclusion, I have to say she is one very popular lady, is equally affectionate with others and quite probably one of the happiest people there.
Do you want Helen Morris, a Dementia Friends Champion, to run a session for your group? Call her on 07976 702171.