Caregiving for an older loved one may be both rewarding and stressful. The opportunity to bond and make memories can be priceless. But the challenge of juggling caregiving duties with the demands of an already-busy life can be tough.
If you work outside the home or live far away from your aging parent or family elder, you might not be able to visit in person as often as you would like. While you can take steps to make sure their physical needs are met, not seeing your family member frequently enough may give rise to difficult emotions.
It’s a situation that can leave an adult child feeling guilty and worried that the senior might be isolated, lonely, and depressed. These concerns are valid. Isolation can be especially problematic for older adults. Research shows it can take a toll on an older adult’s physical and mental well-being.
The medical community actually believes isolation to be so bad for an older adult that it is considered a health risk for seniors. It increases the risk for a variety of health problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and cardiac disease. Statistically speaking, isolated seniors also have a shorter life span than peers who stay active and engaged within their families and communities.
If a senior in your life is homebound or has a mobility challenge that makes it too taxing to get out very often, it’s essential to take steps to ensure that they have regular opportunities to socialize and engage with others. This is especially true if loved ones live too far away to visit the senior often.
One way to supplement visits and phone calls from friends and family members is to enlist the services of a companion caregiver. Home care companions are one of the most popular services provided by in-home care agencies.
What Is Companion Care?
While most people are familiar with the traditional services offered by home care agencies, such as meal preparation, bathing, and dressing, fewer people are aware of home companions for the elderly and the social support they give. Many home care agencies employ caregiver companions who come right to the senior’s house to spend quality time with them.
It’s a valuable service in today’s transient society, where family members are often separated by great distances. Home companions for the elderly are also helpful for families who live nearby but have jobs that require them to travel a lot or work long hours or different shifts.
When loved ones can’t be there, a senior care companion can play a vital role in keeping a family elder engaged and preventing them from becoming isolated. It can be an ideal solution for the older adult and for the family members who love them.
Companions for the Elderly
For a family caregiver who works outside the home and has a family of their own to keep them busy, utilizing a care companion provides them with peace of mind. The adult child or family member can relax and be confident their loved one isn’t lonely during times they can’t be there.
Long-distance caregivers gain the added assurance of knowing a senior family member is receiving visits on a routine basis. Having someone devote time and attention to their loved one’s emotional needs is meaningful. Families who live far away also benefit from getting feedback about how the senior is doing. Home care companions can provide that after each visit.
Home care companions typically establish a regular schedule of visits to follow. If the senior wants someone to read to them after dinner or play cards with them before lunch, that can be arranged. Depending on the older adult’s unique circumstances and finances, the companion may visit weekly, several times a week, or even on a daily basis.
Another benefit of enlisting the support of a companion caregiver is that it opens the door to receiving additional support from a home care agency. It’s common for older adults to be reluctant to accept help from professional caregivers, even when it is necessary. The senior may be afraid they will lose their independence and the ability to make decisions on their own. This reluctance can be a source of friction between older adults and their family members. Safety is often at the center of the debate.
When the relationship with a home care team begins with social activities, like those a home care companion offers, it gives the senior an opportunity to get comfortable having caregivers in their home. Once that happens, the family elder may be willing to accept assistance with other tasks, such as meal preparation, light housekeeping, bathing, dressing, and grooming.
In-Home Companion Care
What does a care companion do when they are at a senior’s home?
The opportunities for clients and companion caregivers to enjoy time together are wide-ranging. Duties and activities a care companion can provide may include:
- Reading a book to the older adult
- Taking a walk together
- Playing cards or games
- Working jigsaw puzzles
- Engaging in arts and crafts projects
- Assisting in writing letters or cards
- Baking and decorating cookies
- Creating scrapbooks for important milestones
- Watching movies or television shows together
- Looking through family photos and putting them into albums
If the senior has a favorite hobby, such as quilting or watercolor painting, the home care companion can assist them. In general, the goal is to spend meaningful time together.
Because aging in place in their own home is what most seniors wish for, establishing a relationship with a care companion can be a good first step. As the older adult’s needs change, so too can the services that are provided.
Families may eventually choose to transition to overnight caregiving support. That allows an older adult who lives alone to get help during the nighttime hours should they need to make a trip to the bathroom or experience a sudden illness.
At Griswold Home Care offices across the country, we provide a wide range of in-home services. Whether you need senior companion care, dementia care, or an around-the-clock caregiver, we can help. Call the Griswold location nearest you to talk to an expert and set up an in-person meeting today!