Many seniors want to age in the comforts of their own homes. At home, they can maintain their daily routines and their quality of life. But if your aging loved one is living at home alone, you probably worry.
According to the National Council on Aging, 13 percent of homeowners age 62 and over (that’s 2.5 million people) need help with activities of daily living, such as dressing and cooking. More than two-thirds of these people live at home.
Isolation and loneliness have long been linked to a variety of health conditions. One study found that loneliness was associated with an increased probability of having a coronary condition such as a heart attack. Low levels of companionship and emotional support were also found to have an association.
If your loved one insists on living alone, but you’re concerned about their lack of a support system, consider an in-home caregiving service. Some home care providers offer companion care for seniors.
Companion care means that an in-home professional caregiver helps keep your loved one social and active, by driving him or her around to social events, friends’ homes, and to doctors’ appointments. If your loved one no longer has friends nearby, the aide can play this role, taking walks with your loved one or helping out in the garden. Companion care means that you can have peace mind knowing someone is there to keep your loved one socially active and engaged while also helping to prevent falls or other injuries.
If your loved one doesn’t need any help getting around, but you’re concerned that he or she may be getting a bit lonely, consider getting a companion animal. Pets have been found to combat depression in older people who don’t have a supportive social circle.
A companion animal can help relieve boredom and keep your loved one active. Companion pets can help decrease stress, and decrease risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as lowering blood pressure. One study has even found the heart attack victims who own pets lived longer than those who didn’t.
Humans are social creatures. As we become older, many people find themselves increasingly isolated. Whether it takes a human, canine or feline form, a companion can help fend off feelings of loneliness and contribute to a more fulfilling life.
What pet do you or your loved one own? How much have they changed your life? Tell us in the comments below.