Your Mother’s Hairstylist Could Save Her Life

Your Mother’s Hairstylist Could Save Her Life
Most of us develop a strong connection to our hairstylist. We confide our innermost secrets and share our problems as though the hairstylist were a therapist. Ever wonder what you mother is not telling you, but telling her stylist?

A new survey from Columbus, Ohio questioning hairstylists about their long term interaction with their older clients suggests that clients often reveal their issues while they are being worked on. “Hair stylists are in a great position to notice when their older clients are starting to suffer from depression, dementia, or self-neglect,” claims Keith Anderson, co-author of the study and assistant professor of social work at Ohio State University. He calls it jokingly, “Salon Therapy.”

Why do clients easily confide in their stylists? Perhaps, letting this person see them with their hair down and soaking wet in a vulnerable state explains the root cause for this kind of openness. Ultimately, hairstylists transform them into a more idealized version of themselves – what power they have! Moreover, during the beautifying process they offer sympathy, support and cheer and don’t underestimate the power of touch.

Since many adult children move away from home and lead busy lives, they often do not know that a parent or grandparent could be in trouble. An elderly mother or grandmother might not want to burden her children or out of a sense of pride she might withhold the details of an infirmity. However, the stylist can readily observe the symptoms of anxiety, depression, abuse or mental decline.

In fact, I have firsthand anecdotal evidence: a stylist confided that she spotted a malignant melanoma on the scalp of her senior client and directed her to seek medical attention that same day. The hairstylist’s diagnosis was absolutely correct and the woman soon began treatment for her cancer.

Based on the collective results of this survey, it is clear that stylists forge a unique bond with their clients. Therefore it is reasonable to conclude that stylists could play an even greater role by learning about local community services and providing brochures to older adults about how to access the specific kind of help they need.

“We can’t expect them to do everything, but our results suggest that most stylists care about their clients and would be willing to help them,” Anderson said.

So, if you care to know how your mom or grandmother is really feeling, you might want to get in touch with her hairstylist.
For more information on managing your stress and reclaiming your life read my book, Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life. To listen to archived radio shows with guest experts visit Turn On Your Inner Light Radio Show

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