Its simply one of those things we know to be true. Infants and toddlers want to be touched. We call it “bonding”. Its one of the things children need. They need the tactile sensation of a parent’s touch. Watch kids snuggle up to Mom sometime – they want to be touched
Alzheimer’s has been described as childhood in reverse. The victims are often childlike, but they do not “grow out of stages” as kids do. Like children, they want to be touched.
I’ve written about my tussling with Mom. I make time each day to just act like a kid and rough-house a little with her. It produces gales of laughter. If I don’t start jabbing or poking or swatting, she will often do it. As the disease progresses, I have noticed she just wants to be touched.
During most of my visits, we merely hold hands. In the absence of sparkling conversation, she merely wants to assurance of being touched. However – there is still a little bit of devilishness in her – this prim hand holding may soon turn into a sharp elbow in my ribs or a swat on my leg.
I didn’t pose this photo – as she does on many occasions, she just put her head on my shoulder. I fussed to get my camera out, but she didn’t mind and kept her head there. The expression on her face says it all – she is content when she is being touched.
And I know why she needs the reassurance. There is a gap between what she can say and what goes on in her mind. She frequently asks – even demands - to “go home”, and though she is no longer capable of defining home or knowing where home is located, she does know that at one time she had friends who visited and a place where everything was comfortable and warm. I see her like this often – gazing into the distance knowing something is wrong, yet lacking the words to describe her feelings any longer.
So she wants to be touched.