Los Angeles Jewish Home's Blog

Seniors Discuss the Many Ways We Love

“We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection.”
-Dalai Lama

Affection is a gentle expression of love or care a person shares with another individual. Whether you’re petting your cat, kissing your grandma, hugging your brother, writing a note to a peer, paying a compliment to a stranger, giving a gift to your niece, or having a deep conversation with your best friend, you’re showing affection to other individuals. Regardless of the degree, benevolent interactions like these can help people in any relationship create a lasting bond.

In a recent conversation with activities director Caryl Geiger, the Home’s seniors discussed the many ways people show affection. “Just like a plant needs nutrient rich soil to grow, healthy relationships need acts of affection in order to develop.” Caryl explained, “As human beings, it is essential for us to have contact with others in order to survive. Affection is a very special kind of social interaction that can nourish this need.”

Showing affection makes both the giver and the receiver feel great and it helps us build better relationships. While there are numerous ways we can show others we care for them, there are 5 distinct categories all signs of affection fall into:

  •  Affirmation – Saying things like “You did well” or “That was so nice of you”
  • Acts of Service – Helping with a task or chore
  • Giving Gifts – Notes, chocolate bars, tickets to a game or show, jewelry
  • Quality Time – Listening or giving feedback
  • Physical Touch – Giving a squeeze or a rub on the shoulder, arm, or hand
Different people show affection in different ways. Some people don’t like being touched or embraced. Other people have a hard time carrying on intimate conversations. There’s no way to know what each individual prefers without getting to know them and taking the time to try the different love languages.

One senior shared her history of receiving affection, “When I met my fiancé’s parents for the first time I was very shocked the way his family showed me affection. They hugged me and kissed me whenever we met. These acts of affection were welcome and appreciated, but because my parents were never demonstrative with me it was truly a shock for me to experience this hands-on kind of love.”

“Did those signs of physical affection make you feel special or loved?” Caryl asked.
The resident responded, “Of course! His family really took an interest in me and went out of their way to make me feel welcome and like a part of their family. They created an environment of love and happiness that I ended up modeling my relationship with my husband on.”

Another resident mentioned how he shows affection every day. “Whenever I’m walking around campus, I’m happy to “Hello, how are you?” to the people I pass in the walkways. I’ll always pay special attention to the people who’ve been sick and missing from our usual daily activ
ities. It shows people I’m aware of what’s going on around me and that I’m compassionate about what other people are going through.”

When you go the extra mile to show people you care, you’re creating an environment where others are more comfortable, happier, and even willing to return the favor. So share your smiles and take an interest in those around you. Affection goes a long way.