Keeping "In Touch": Demographic Patterns of Interpersonal Touch in Later Life. By: Upenieks, Laura; Schafer, Markus H. Research on Aging. Jan2022, Vol. 44 Issue 1, p22-33. 12p.

Touch is an important element of human social interaction linked to various dimensions of well-being, but we know little of how it is distributed among older adults. This study considers whether greeting/affectionate touch is a function of characteristics such as race, gender, and socioeconomic status. Data come from Wave 1 (2005–2006) of the NSHAP study from the United States. Results reveal that women experienced more frequent touch relative to men, net of several features of the interpersonal environment. Mediation analyses revealed that gender differences in associations with touch were partially explained by women’s greater participation in formal and informal social activity. No patterns were detected related to race, education, or wealth. This study situates greeting/affectionate touch as a form of corporeal non-verbal interaction that offers a unique lens into patterns of social connection. We close by considering what this form of interaction means in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.