Comfort Touch for an Elderly Man – Laurie’s Story

Laurie, a physical therapy assistant who works in a long-term care facility in eastern Colorado, wrote the following report. She had recently been trained in Comfort Touch technique.)

He was the president of a large company. Now he lays withered and wrinkled in a fetal position. Who knows this man? Not even himself. He suffers from a horrible malady called Alzheimer’s disease.

I knock on his door and introduce myself, entering the room quietly. I close the curtains to protect his eyes from the blinding sun. I ask him, "Does that help?" No response. I gently take his hand, hoping to relieve some of his weariness. My heart is aching for this man. I want to make him comfortable and relaxed. Who knows how much time is left in this last stage of his life? I pull a stool up close to the bed in which he rests. His fingers are tight and flexed, forming a fist. Once again, I clasp his hand in mine for approximately three minutes. Then I massage his hands, gently pressing into each finger, slowing making small circles with my thumbs.

When his fingers are extended as far as possible, I slip a small drinking glass into each hand. I look carefully at his face, watching for grimaces or any signs of discomfort. Next I use encompassing strokes down each arm and down his lower extremities. My intention is to offer comfort and provide a sense of connection. Then I roll him into a supine position, with the knees flexed, so I can place a pillow behind each joint. I adjust the bed to a 90-degree angle.

I fill the drinking glass he is holding in his right hand with fresh water and then assist him to take a drink of water. This is something he has not done for quite some time. He opens his eyes with no verbal response; however, I believe his response was visual and his way of saying, "Thank you."

One month ago I would have passed by this room twenty times a day wishing for something I could do for him. I was truly blessed last week, when I passed by his room and could offer Comfort Touch to him.