The vast majority of adults say that they would prefer to age in place as they get older, staying at home for as long as possible. While aging in place can help older adults live more independently, it’s also natural to have some concerns about this situation as a loving family member. Who will be there to provide the practical help your loved one needs to cook, clean, and make the most of every day? Just as importantly, what will happen to your senior loved one if they start to feel isolated, lonely, or withdrawn while spending most of their time at home?
That’s where companion care for the elderly comes in. A unique type of long-term care, companion care is designed to help seniors — and their family caregivers — meet multiple challenges at once. Companion care can help provide:
- Practical Assistance With Everyday Activities. With companion care, a caregiver can help provide support with routine activities of daily living (ADLs). A companion can help provide a supportive arm and guidance to help the senior walk, sit, and move about the house. Meanwhile, the companion can provide assistance with grooming, bathing, and dressing; offer driving services; and help with chores such as meal preparation, light laundry, and housekeeping.
- Respite and Relief for Family Caregivers. Around the country, millions of unpaid family caregivers suffer from stress and burnout as a result of devoting all of their time to an aging loved one. Companion care is sometimes called “respite care,” because it provides family members with a chance to rest, recharge, and refocus on their own health and well-being for as long as they need.
- Emotional Support and Friendship. Companion care is rooted in the idea of helping the whole person — and the belief that friendship and social support can be truly invaluable in elevating a senior’s health and quality of life. In addition to helping out around the house, a companion is there to serve as a true friend to the older adult, joining them to play games, go on outings, make conversation, watch movies, enjoy their favorite hobbies, or simply sit and enjoy one another’s company.
In addition to its practical lifestyle benefits, companion care can help enrich a senior’s life in countless meaningful ways. For older adults, a few hours of friendship, attention, and company can offer some truly stunning emotional benefits — with results that are backed by a growing body of research and science.
In our experience, some of the most important emotional advantages of companion care include:
“When people are accustomed to taking care of themselves, it is very difficult to have to depend on others for basic necessities… Feeling as though they are not a burden on others helps [seniors] feel useful and more able to face each day.”
One major study from the Alzheimer’s Association found that 71% of adults fear that they will become a burden to their spouse or partner as they age, while 70% worry about being a burden to their children. In fact, people ranked their fear of becoming a burden significantly higher than their fears of moving into a nursing home (56%) or even passing away (46%).
A companion’s support and attention can empower older adults to live with more dignity, and improve their quality of life. Feeling seen, heard, and respected can give seniors a sense of meaningful purpose, and help them live the lifestyle they choose — without having to feel like they’re relying too heavily on friends, family, or neighbors.
Many older adults are nervous about the thought of having to give up driving, or forego their favorite activities over time. After a lifetime of being self-sufficient, it can be stressful for seniors to feel like they’re losing their indepence. The same goes for family caregivers, who often find it daunting to face a “role reversal” with their aging parents.
The social benefits of companion care can help empower seniors to live their best life, on their terms. From knowing that they can go out and run errands or attend a community meeting, seniors often feel supported and enriched by the assistance of a companion. At the same time, companionship can help lessen the effects of anxiety, depression, and even chronic physical pain.
Studies show that seniors who maintain strong social bonds — such as a connection with a companion — are at less risk for developing age-related conditions such as “Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer.” Socially engaged seniors also report higher physical mobility scores, and lower rates of disability. Seniors who remain socially connected are also more likely to exhibit “positive health-seeking behavior,” like getting cancer screenings or eating more nutritiously.
You’re never too old to enjoy the company of a great friend. Studies have shown that older adults who remain socially connected tend to experience improved self esteem and higher rates of life satisfaction. A senior companion can help improve your loved one’s life in ways both big and small, from joining them to play their favorite game to helping them make new friends and connect with their community.
While it may seem minor, helping the older adult in your life develop these social bonds is incredibly important. One major survey of adults aged 50 to 80 found that “one in four [people] said they feel isolated from other people at least some of the time, and one in three say they don’t have regular companionship.” Over time, these feelings of loneliness and isolation can wear on a senior’s mental and physical well-being. In fact, one common stat suggests that constant isolation may ultimately be as bad for your health as “smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”
For older adults, uprooting their lives and moving into an unfamiliar environment can seem incredibly daunting — and lead to feelings of anxiety, fear, and depression. Studies have shown that aging in place with the support of a senior companion can lead to some remarkable benefits. Remaining in the comfort, safety, and familiarity of home is also a high priority for many older adults.
According to research from the AARP, almost 90% of adults say that they wish to stay at home while they age — for both practical and emotional reasons. A survey, brought to our attention by the American Society on Aging, suggests that older adults want to age in place because they have a strong sentimental attachment to their home. 63% of those 75 years or older actually said that their homes’ “emotional” value was far more important to them than its monetary value.
Confidence and Peace of Mind for Family
As we mentioned earlier, companion care is about getting seniors the support they need to thrive — but it’s also about helping family caregivers reclaim their own time and peace of mind.
One 2017 study found that “nearly half of family caregivers suffer from depression, and 45% did not have time to book or attend their own medical appointments.” Research from the AARP notes that 40% of caregivers “report feeling burdened by their daily chores,” while Psychology Today explains that:
“…providing daily care meant increased irritability, less time for hobbies or other recreation, and increased emotional stress when taking a parent to the doctor or other appointments.”
For family caregivers, turning to respite care can be a wonderful way to improve your own health and well-being. Knowing that your loved one is being seen and supported by a companion can free you up to take a step back and focus on other things, whether that means caring for yourself, concentrating on work, or making time for a fulfilling new hobby or adventure of your own.
Interested In Learning More About Companion Care?
Do you have a senior loved one who could benefit from some extra help around the house – or even a little bit of company and companionship? Our experienced, professional companions would love to step in and help!
At Companions for Seniors, caring for others isn’t just what we do; it’s our guiding light and our passion. Our mission is to empower seniors to live independently and with dignity in the comfort of home by helping them to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, connecting them with their community, and nurturing meaningful relationships.
Our companions are here to help make sure your elderly loved ones are getting the social interaction and emotional support they need, without having to leave the comfort of their homes or finding a way to pay for expensive, institutional care.
We’re locally owned in the Chicago area, with clients in the city and suburbs.Our companions are trained and bonded, and can provide a variety of services designed to help your loved one enjoy the benefits of aging in place, while ensuring that their needs are met.
Our goal is to help the older adult in your life maintain a higher quality of life — physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually — while giving you a chance to get some much-needed respite. Our team can help you and your loved ones develop a personalized care plan, and be up and running within just a few days, in most cases. We understand that every situation is unique, so we provide care plans that are modified to meet each client’s specific needs. As a client’s situation changes, so does our plan of care.
Have any more questions about all things companion care? Ready to get help for your aging loved one? Don’t hesitate to reach out online today to get the conversation started, or give us a call at 866-910-9020.