What are the psychological and physical benefits of companion care?
Human beings were not meant to be alone. Unfortunately, that happens too frequently to the elderly population. As they age, many feel isolated and depressed because the need for touch and companionship is not met. Often, the elderly are isolated in nursing homes, or if they are in their own homes, they are dependent on the kindness of others, which may not be available.
Physical and psychological health is important at any age, but the elderly population may suffer from depression or suicidal tendencies for lack of it. A large percentage of elderly people receive very little emotional support through something as simple as touching. Older adults age in place very well if they have the assistance necessary for them to sustain themselves. It is more desirable for them to stay in their own homes as long as possible. That is why having an elderly caregiver (a caregiver for the elderly) is one of the best solutions for those with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia.
Providing companionship care is a noble profession, which most people will likely require at some point. Someone to do simple tasks, like taking their blood pressure or helping with activities of daily living, gives seniors a sense of purpose and helps relieve psychological loneliness.
Some of the physical and psychological health benefits of having companion care are:
Retention of Dignity
When people are accustomed to taking care of themselves, it is very difficult to have to depend on others for basic necessities. Keeping one’s dignity can be had by having someone who is friendly and unobtrusive to act, along with them, in doing daily routines, such as bathing, washing dishes or cooking. Feeling as though they are not a burden on others helps them feel useful and more able to face each day.
Lack of communication is one of the most prevalent ways that seniors experience psychological loneliness, and it is easily averted simply by having someone with whom they can converse. When seniors lack conversational interaction with others, they become withdrawn and often lose interest in socializing. Loneliness and boredom set in, and they may even use it as a crutch to keep from communicating after a while. It is heartbreaking when they have to depend on television for companionship.
Having an elderly caregiver (caregiver for the elderly) in the home with them can help avert multiple perils. Common household dangers, such as falls, answering the door, or forgetting and leaving a pot on the stove, which may cause a fire, can be prevented. Feeling secure in the home is beneficial for the recipient as well as the family, who may not be available to care for their loved one.
Older adults age best when they receive timely, accurate medication. Frequently, companionship care is responsible for making sure they do not over-medicate, causing a trip to the hospital or death. They sometimes forget whether they have taken the medication and will repeat the dosage. Other times, they may not take it at all. Either scenario can be detrimental. Those with Alzheimer’s disease, especially, have to be monitored, and checking blood pressure is often one of the most needed practices.
All of these instances create a benefit to the senior. Even good companion animals, such as a dog or cat, can benefit the elderly. They need someone or something on which they can lavish love and affection. Everyone needs that, and seniors, who may have lost family and friends, are even more in need.
Older adult’s increased risk of suicide is a problem that gerontologists recognize as a significant challenge. Often, depression goes undetected. The personality type of the senior plays a significant role in their propensity toward ending their own lives. They may be shy, hostile, or have a predisposition toward hypochondriasis. Introverts are more prone to taking their own lives because they are not comfortable interacting with others. Other factors may include substance abuse or alcoholism. Generally, they plan their demise carefully and do not usually act impulsively.
The health caregiver or family should remain alert to any behavioral changes and should take seriously any differences they observe. The elderly may exhibit signs of sleeplessness, or they may stop eating, believing there are few options for them. Health issues and financial problems may cause them to feel hopeless, and they feel as if they have no control over their own destiny. Illnesses may also contribute to their feelings of powerlessness and can be the catalyst for a bout of depression.
Caregivers who have been specially trained to support the elderly are the most desirable solution aside from caring family members. The activities of daily living are enhanced when those who are responsible understand the mental and physical needs of the elderly. While having good companion animals is a good fix, and can be most beneficial, the understanding and nurturing of a trained person or family member is even more advantageous.
The overall health of elderly persons depends greatly on their mental health. If they are not mentally sound, it can affect their physical health. Stressful situations may cause high blood pressure, or heart disease, and rather than consuming a balanced diet, they may over eat fattening foods, which causes them to be overweight. Good mental health should be a concern to their health care provider and should be a part of their physical checkups.
The lack of mobility for many seniors may mean less communication with friends and family. As they become unable to drive or have difficulty moving around, they tend to have fewer social engagements. It is very comforting for most families to know that their loved one has someone with whom they can have frequent companionship. Simply having access to community activities, or to church, or to social outings with friends can be very rewarding. They are motivated to get dressed and can look forward to something that is pleasurable and inviting.
Mental stimulation alone is beneficial and can help guard against memory loss and dementia. Games and puzzles that involve use of the brain provide positive challenges that help with creative thinking and organization. While these activities are helpful when they are done alone, friendly interaction with others, as they play games and puzzles, is an added benefit.
Remaining physically active encourages them to want to move around. When they have the assistance of a caregiver, they will not worry about becoming lost or disoriented when they walk or visit a fitness center. They will not only have a companion who can look after them, but they have the peace of mind that comes with trust.
The benefits of having a home companion are immeasurable. Exploring various avenues for help with elderly family members should be a family priority. After people have lived long, successful lives, it should be inconceivable that they end up with psychological loneliness when many of them still have so much to offer.
Everyone should have the dignity of a peaceful, serene old age. Of course, the onus for the final stages of life should be theirs to the extent possible. If it is possible to set aside funds for the help they will need when that inevitable time comes, they should do it.
Professional companion care is an excellent service, and the health caregiver has an important role because that may be what the future holds for many older people. Hopefully, they have made sure that they are able to avail themselves of it.