Why Companion Care Is Important for the Elderly

Lonely older man

by Patricia LaCroix, contributing writing

We humans — by our very nature — are a social breed. Companionship is considered by psychologists to be one of the most basic of our human needs — right up there with food and water.

Babies who have what they need to survive but lack human touch fail to thrive. Even the most introverted people need some interaction with others. Extroverts, on the other hand, crave it and need it all the more.

However, when it comes to our elderly, companionship — as essential as it might be for living — can also be quite hard to come by.

Isolation: A sad reality of old age

A sad reality of growing older is watching friends and family members move away, enter assisted living facilities and nursing homes, and — worst of all — die. Older married couples often lose the companionship of their spouse, not only to death, but also to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other dementias, which eat away at one’s ability to have the deep, meaningful relationships that might have once existed.

Being older also means finding one’s self more isolated and home-bound. Trips to the store or to friend’s home — once quick and easy — are now more difficult. Driving a car becomes a safety concern and perhaps even out of the question. If loved ones live far away, phone calls and Facetime chats are nice, but don’t adequately take the place of real face-to-face interactions.

Health problems that arise due to loneliness

As loneliness increases in the elderly, so can other problems. According to an article published by the National Institute of Aging (NIA), a government agency within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, older people who are lonely can develop a host of other problems — many of which you might not associate with loneliness. These issues include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Cognitive decline
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • A weakened immune system

By contrast, older people who maintain relationships and engage in activities with others, tend to gain many health benefits, including:

  • Living longer
  • An improved mood
  • Better cognitive function
  • Having a sense of purpose

You can read more about the NIA’s research on social isolation and loneliness in older people by clicking HERE.

How Care & Comfort at Home helps with companionship

When you think of an in-home care agency, you probably first think of all the things its caregivers can do for older adults — and more specifically, the things that older adults can no longer do for themselves. Of course, you wouldn’t be wrong. As an in-home care provider for seniors and veterans, Care & Comfort at Home performs the following tasks for seniors:

  • Personal care, including grooming, showering, dressing, feeding, and toilet assistance
  • Transportation
  • Meal preparation
  • Medication reminders
  • Running errands
  • Light housekeeping and laundry

And yes, these are tasks that — all too often — seniors can no longer do well on their own.

But another very important function of Care & Comfort at Home is companionship. That companionship actually happens two ways: 1) deliberately and 2) by default.

First, let’s discuss how companionship happens “by default.”

Just by coming over to help a senior do the things he or she can’t do alone, the older adult is already becoming less isolated. The visit inevitably becomes as much a “social call” as it is an opportunity for the senior to get help with his or her daily tasks.

Immediately, there’s in-person, human interaction. Caregivers talk to their clients. They might ask about their clients’ day, how they are doing, what they need, and anything else that the clients might want to discuss. In between tasks, Caregivers might read to their clients, help them access online chats and texts with their family members, or talk over dinner — and just generally spend time with them. This interaction might be the only face-to-face human engagement the senior experiences in a day, in a week, or even in a whole month.

And then, there’s deliberate companionship. A senior might be perfectly able to take care of himself or herself, but has no one to interact with and see in person. Care & Comfort at Home Caregivers can be hired specifically to provide that much-needed companionship. The Caregivers can come over to simply say “hello” and offer their friendship for a few hours — or for 24 hours. A Caregiver can be that person who will sit and talk with the senior over a cup of coffee; that person who “checks in” to make sure all is well and everything at home is as it should be; that person who plays games with the senior; and that person who watches TV or listens to the radio with the senior.

Most of all — a Care & Comfort at Home Caregiver is that person who will truly BE with the senior. In the end, that’s what companionship is all about — being with someone who cares.

Proving companion care during the COVID-19 pandemic

If you think companion care is something your loved one needs, there’s no reason to wait any longer to get the older adult in your life what he or she need to thrive. Even right now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Care & Comfort at Home is considered to be an essential service. We can provide care and companionship for your loved one — at a time when companionship is as needed as ever! (Click HERE to see the steps Care & Comfort at Home is taking to help ensure the safety of our clients at this time.)

To learn more and to set up a FREE consultation, call 630-333-9262 in the Chicagoland area or 720-788-0611 in the Denver area. For either location, you can also click HERE to contact us via our online form. We can help!