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Human interaction, care or comfort is not a one-way street. I donít think a machine, no matter how cute, cuddly and real-like it is, can ever take the place of human connection. Something happens to us when we give a moment of ourselves to someone in need of kindness. It comes right back to us- sometimes two-fold. Watching an old person interact with a robot turns compassion into entertainment.
I'm being haunted by the memory of a man who touched me deeply. I met Frank in a nursing home last week where I was teaching a six-day Compassionate Touchģ workshop. I first noticed him because he wasn't particularly old -- at least not by skilled nursing facility standards-- and he was tall and muscular. He was sitting in a corner in the hallway near the nursesí station. By his appearance, I was pretty sure he had suffered a stroke some time back.
If I created a personal time capsule, what would I put in it? What would I want to tell those who opened it one or two hundred years from now? I think itís a question worth a little attention. Perhaps the ideas that come are the things we cherish most about ourselves and our lives. Iíve met quite a number of people over the age of 100 during my work with hospice and eldercare patients. I wonder if they have a time capsule buried somewhere. Wouldnít it be a wonderful experience to take a centenarian to open his own capsule?
The The Parkinsonís Outcomes Project reports that negative mood and depression have the greatest impact on health status and that 40% of people with PD experience depression and/ or anxiety disorder. These symptoms seem to have even greater impact on quality of life than motor symptoms. April is Parkinsonís Awareness Month. Most people immediately think of tremors and muscle stiffness when asked to name a symptom of Parkinsonís disease (PD). But what about symptoms that canít be seen, only experienced by the people living with this progressive neurological disease?
Thereís a parallel here to people living with Alzheimerís disease (AD), massage and Daffodils. It appears that emotions may outlast the memory of the event that triggered the emotion, according to a 2010 study conducted by Justin Feinstein reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. In other words, if a person with AD has a happy experience, say from a family visit (or a massage!) he will continue to feel happy for a period of time even though he quickly forgets the actual visit.