'Designated huggers' visit Georgia seniors ahead of Valentine’s Day

'Age-Positivity' Could Be the Key to a Long Life

Across Georgia, team of ‘huggers’ will visit seniors to give a hug and spread some love

Loneliness is extensive in America — in fact, most Americans report feeling lonely. However, it can be even more pervasive among elderly people.

Which is why a group of volunteers in metro Atlanta have made it their mission to spread a little love ahead of Valentine’s Day.

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Visiting Angels, a nationwide network that provides in-home care for seniors, started its hugging campaign in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day.

Across Georgia, volunteers will visit retirement homes, hospitals and rehabilitation centers to give a hug and spread some love.

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One of the locations included Sterling Estates Retirement Community in Cobb County, where caregivers wearing "designated hugger" shirts visited with residents, according to reporting done by 11Alive.

"I think it's one of the most meaningful things you can do for another living person, another human being. Just caring about them in that way. And not enough people do it," Matthew Onofrey, with Visiting Angels, told the TV station.

Studies have shown that physical touch is important for overall health.
"Touch can also be reassuring and calming for a person in distress, since it can communicate an offer of support and empathy," according to Medical News Today.

Research has shown that the hugs can make people feel better, regardless of age, gender or martial status.

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“Offering a reassuring hug to a person who is in pain or feeling down can actually benefit both the receiver and the giver; both people involved in the interaction experience more positive emotions and feel more strongly connected to each other,” Medical News Today reports.