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The Importance of a Hug

 

It seems we are all born with the need to be hugged. Infants thrive when they are held, and toddlers often require twenty-some-odd hugs before they can peacefully sleep. But somewhere along our aging journey between accepting social norms and learning to put on a brave face, we forget the importance of a good hug.

One day last spring, I was reminded just how necessary a good squeeze is for all of us.

As I held my toddler on my hip, my 9-year-old daughter bounced in to the dining room ay my grandmother's assisted living facility. As she rushed to give her great-grandma a big hug, I happily waded through all the requests to see "the little one." As you can imagine, the kids are a big hit in a room of aging seniors.

As we neared my grandmother's table, I saw a resident at a nearby table tug at my daughter's sleeve. I hurried my step so I could be there to remind my daughter to be polite. What happened next forever changed the way I look at my daughter and the needs of our older loved ones.

The woman, who was easily into her ninth decade, pulled my daughter closer and asked, "Would you mind giving me a hug?"

My heart raced as I hoped my daughter wouldn't pull away or somehow make this woman feel embarrassed. After all, we have forever explained the dangers of strangers to her.

Without a word, my daughter threw her arms open and wrapped them tightly around the small woman. I could see the woman's face light up and the giant grin on my daughter's face.  When the lovely lady released from the hug, my daughter was still there holding her tight.

My daughter eventually let go and flashed her new friend a big smile. When she turned to walk away, the woman grabbed her sleeve once again.

"I haven't hugged a child in more than 20 years," she exclaimed with tears running down her face, "You just made my day!"

My daughter flashed the woman yet another smile that seemingly sealed their new friendship. My heart was swollen with pride, but aching for my daughter's new friend who was so delighted by just a simple hug.

As we drove home that evening, I thanked my girl for having such a wonderful heart and sharing it with a lonely woman who needed a hug. I told her how proud I was to be her mother, and just like that, she gave me yet another reason.

"She said I made her day just by giving her a hug. Do you think we can go every day so I can give her a hug, " she asked, "Twenty years is way too long to not hug a little kid, Mom. We've got a lot of hugs to catch up on!"

 

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. January 17, 2013 at 8:55 am | Posted by Wendy

    That is simply one of the sweetest stories I have ever read! Love it!

    Reply

  2. January 10, 2013 at 10:14 pm | Posted by Doris Comstock

    I am caregiver to a beautiful 90 yr old lady with memory impaired,(alzheimers). One thing Ive learned by asking her questions is, she raised 9 children and my feelings to that is , why give up! So in my caring for her, I have her do as much for herself as she wants. We shower, I remind her how and where to wash, having her do it is awesome, my guidance is needed and I love helping her. I do laundry, she helps me fold. Im doing dishes, she helps by putting silverware away. Fixing lunch, I have her make her sandwich as well as one for her son to eat when he gets home. She knows how and she is very much loving the fact that Im not doing everything for her. Her and I enjoy our time very much, She enjoys the hugs and sharing thoughts. I let her think and use her mind. I dont mind repeating several times and she knows it. I started a chart of all her families names and birth dates. So the beginning of every month we get out the cards and she writes in the cards, fixes the envelopes and then asks me if we did one for whoever, even though we just finished it. This means the world to her that since Aug we've not missed a birthday or anniversary and the ones receiving it have loved it. She has shown her love and appreciation to me in with hugs, her family has expressed how she cant remember what she just did 10 min ago or was told but she can remember my name and asks for me each day. This is so rewarding and Im loving it ! Thanks Home Instead for giving me this beautiful lovely lady. Doris Comstock

    Reply

  3. September 28, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Posted by Josie Loza

    Very heart-warming piece! Thanks for sharing, Cat.

    Reply

  4. September 24, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Posted by Sandy Hundley

    My husband and I have been caregivers of my father for 7 years now that he has lived in our home with us. Daddy was diagnosed at 69 year's old with Altzheimers disease it's a horrible disease and at daddy's age of 69 being Dx was heart wrenching!!! He is 76 now and still at home with my husband and I,we have been married 26 year's and my husband is amazing with my daddy,he treats him so Good andhas stuck by me throug everything! Cargiving is hard at times but I was a nurse and had 15yrs in the medical field and know firsthand what taking care of people/patients is all about! It's tough but so blessed to be able to care for my Daddy! So many people don't get the opportunity to live at home with their daughter or families and have to go into a nursing facility I thank God everyday for being ab to still have Daddy at myhome!!!! Caregivers get Abigail thumbs up from me cause I am and have been one for 7 yrs. Now it requires a lot and takes special people to

    Reply

  5. September 21, 2012 at 10:05 am | Posted by Heidi W

    Reading this story was like receiving a virtual hug. Made my heart warm. Thanks Cat! Beautifully written.

    Reply

  6. September 20, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Posted by Paula

    For the 2nd time, I am caring for a loved one ravished by Alzheimer's disease. This story about how much a hug can mean to another is absolutely true! Cat, you have every reason to be proud of your precious daughter! What a kind little girl you have raised! I lost my best friend, my mother, in April of 2008. During her short battle with Alzheimer's, my husband, my grown children and my grandchildren played a very active role in my mother's days. Visiting her at the assisted living facility or at home in her final days, they always showed their love with a genuine smile and the comfort of a hug. They shared their compassion with the residents as well and it always touched me to see how much their interaction meant to them. Now, my husband and I are caring for his sweet mother who has been battling this disease for 4 plus years. Again, I see my children and grandchildren interacting and loving their great grandmother with the same smiles and hugs that they shared with my own mother. Often times, people feel that they must protect their children from those stricken with any serious illness, but, I must say that through my own personal experience, exposure at any age only makes for a more compassionate, loving individual. My children and grandchildren learned from a very young age the acceptance of others who are perhaps different from themselves and as a result, have proudly shown support and respect for others. They each have shared hugs and smiles, held hands and said prayers, and uttered words of encouragement and kindness. I am proud of each of them and although the journey has never been easy, they have brought good moments into the long, painful days. In closing, I encourage anyone caring for a loved one to share hugs and smiles as often as possible. Additionally, share kind words with your loved ones; even though they may no longer be the person you once knew, they respond to loving words and happy thoughts. Cherish the days that you still have with your loved one and despite the heartache you feel as they drift further from you, know that they truly continue to love you as they did before they were diagnosed. Mom, I miss you as much today as I did the day God called you home and I will love you forever. Your love and compassion taught me the same and I have seen the same qualities in each of my children and grandchildren! And to my mother-in-law, you were with me when my own mother was going through this horrible disease, and now, God has allowed me and my family to care for you. I will continue to care for you in the same way I did my own mom and hope that your final days are filled with love and happiness. May God bless all those diagnosed with Alzheimer's and their caregivers.

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  7. September 19, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Posted by Cheryl Banks

    I work in long term care. Too many times it is easy to forget that your residents might need a little extra tlc. If a hug can make one smile I encourage all my fellow healthcare worker to take time to give one. It is so worth it to make them smile. Maybe they are all alone with no family left. make their day brighter if you can.

    Reply

  8. September 19, 2012 at 11:56 am | Posted by Shirley Lowe

    Such a touching story. My father's eyes would sparkle when he was around children, because they love so unconditionally. My father always got a kiss and hug when he was greeted by us he loved that too...but there was nothing like spending the days with a child and just sit and watch airplanes go by. My father passed away in October last year, and I would give anything for one of his hugs. Hugs are everlasting.

    Reply

  9. September 17, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Posted by jessie brumbach

    my colleague at work posted this beautiful story. Hugs make the world a better place at any age. maybe we can make an effort to hug our parents, friends and families this week. it's so simple

    Reply

  10. September 17, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Posted by jessie brumbach

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story, Cat. I've noticed my mom reaching out for more hugs and there. At times I've wondered what was up. I have to remind myself that after raising 8 kids and losing my dad, she doesn't have anyone to give her the hugs at home...we all need them. Thanks for reminding me to hug mom more often.

    Reply

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