Growing older can be a beautiful thing – but aging in place can also come with its own unique set of challenges.
For seniors, physical and mental changes can make it harder to keep up with the tasks and activities that they once took for granted. As a loving family member, it’s important to be realistic about these common challenges, and find ways to offer your senior the support and assistance they need, so that they can live safely and independently in the comfort of home.
Home care, provided by an experienced senior companion or caregiver, can be a powerful, flexible, and easy way to give seniors the care they deserve, on a schedule that works for their changing lifestyle.
Here’s how a senior companion can help elderly adults meet five common challenges that often come with living at home:
1.) Completing Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
Activities of daily living (often abbreviated as ADLs) are the routine tasks and actions that make up day-to-day life, for people of all ages. Over time, the physical and mental effects of aging can make it more difficult for seniors to complete ADLs, including things like:
- Sitting and standing from chairs
- Transferring into and out of bed
- Going to the bathroom
- Showering and bathing
- Getting dressed
Broadly speaking, if a senior is having trouble completing routine ADLs, this is a sign that it may be time to reach out for help – so that they can continue to age in place safely and independently. A caregiver can help support seniors with their routine ADLS, including offering assistance with hygiene and dressing, and providing mobility help as the senior sits, stands, or moves around. Caregivers can also take on some household chores, including light housekeeping and laundry.
2.) Traveling and Getting Around Safely
For many seniors, there comes a time when driving alone can be dangerous, for themselves and for others. This can be a major blow for older adults, and for the family caregivers who love them. In fact, in a recent poll, nearly 40% of family caregivers reported that the single hardest conversation to have with their aging parents was about giving up driving.
For the elderly, not having access to reliable transportation can be a major obstacle, limiting their independence and their ability to be social and live life to the fullest. In another survey, about one half of all Americans 65 and older say that they do not have access to public transportation. Half of all non-drivers 65 or older say that they feel forced to “stay at home” in a given day because “they don’t have transportation options.”
A senior companion can help step in and provide reliable, safe driving services. At Companions for Seniors, our caregivers can offer transportation in the comfort of a fully insured company car. A senior companion can offer rides to doctor’s appointments, social gatherings, errands, and more. Along the way, the experienced caregiver can assist the senior with walking and getting into the vehicle, while also being a friendly face who can chat and spend quality time with the senior as they go about their day.
3.) Loneliness and Social Isolation
Loneliness and social isolation are some of the biggest health problems facing older adults. In a survey of adults aged 50-80, about 25% of respondents said that “they feel isolated from other people at least some of the time,” and about one-third said that “they don’t have regular companionship.”
Over time, these feelings of disconnection and isolation can cause serious health effects for seniors, leading to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, higher rates of chronic illness, higher rates of depression and anxiety, diminished physical mobility, and increased risk of developing dementia. On the flip side? Older adults who are able to maintain strong relationships with age report better physical and mental health, higher life satisfaction, lower rates of dementia, and increased overall longevity.
A senior companion can be a friend and ally to your senior loved one, providing social support and friendship to help enrich their life and keep them feeling healthy and happy. A companion can share meals, play games, watch TV, or do art projects with your senior loved one. They can swap stories, go on outings, and enjoy peaceful quiet times. In other cases, a companion can help make sure your loved one is able to go out and enjoy time with others, and can help shoulder some of the responsibilities of caring for the senior during family gatherings.
4.) Remembering Medication and Exercise
A senior companion or caregiver is not a licensed nurse or doctor, and cannot administer healthcare services. However, a senior companion can help your elderly loved one with some of their day-to-day wellness routines, including remembering their medications and keeping up with any physical fitness or exercise regimens.
A senior companion can offer regular medicine reminders, and help communicate with family members if they observe the presence of any side effects, or other sudden changes to the senior’s health and well-being. Similarly, a senior companion can help offer support and keep a watchful eye out if your senior loved one exercises for fitness, or does regular activities as part of a physical therapy or rehab program.
A companion may be able to exercise alongside the senior, or accompany them on walks or bike rides. In other cases, a companion can offer rides to fitness classes or physical therapy appointments, and can always be there to call for help in case of an accident or injury.
5.) Preparing and Eating Healthy Meals
Nutrition is one of the keys to health and longevity. You are what you eat, as the old saying goes! For many seniors, eating well can be a challenge, particularly if the senior has difficulty getting active in the kitchen, or if they’ve experienced physical or mental changes that can make it more difficult to taste, chew, or swallow food.
A senior companion can help at every step of the meal preparation process. In fact, at Companions for Seniors, we realize the importance of food, and make mealtimes a cornerstone of the care we provide!
A senior companion can assist your loved one at every stage of meal prep – from shopping, to cooking, to enjoying a meal together, to packing up leftovers and cleaning up after the fact. In particular, it’s hard to overstate the importance of having a regular dining companion for older adults. Studies have shown that about 20 percent of seniors who live alone “have at least four warning signs of poor nutritional health,” and seniors who live alone cite “lack of companionship” as one of the single biggest problems they face at mealtimes. Having someone there can enrich the experience of cooking and eating, encouraging seniors to eat more, stay healthy, and actually look forward to eating again.
Companions for Seniors: Your Chicagoland Home Care Resource
Do you have an aging loved one who could benefit from the companionship and support of a trained professional caregiver?
Locally owned and operated in Chicago, Illinois, with clients in the city and suburbs, Companions for Seniors is a home care company like no other.
We offer a variety of services designed to help our clients remain in the comfort of their own homes, while ensuring that their needs are met. Our trained and bonded Companions are available on a full- or part-time basis, and can offer driving services in the comfort of a company car.
Our services are flexible, convenient, and it’s easy to get started. Companions for Seniors provides a free in-home assessment of your senior family’s current situation, and in most cases we can be up and running in just a few days. We understand that every situation is unique, so we provide a personalized care plan that’s modified to meet each client’s specific needs. As a client’s situation changes, so does our plan of care.