Our upcoming screening of The Age of Love movie and the coming Valentine’s Day holiday has us thinking of love…in later life. Senior companionship and relationships for older adults are the themes that run through the movie, and the stories remind us that companionship and intimacy are human needs throughout the lifespan. Today, we’ll discuss some important reminders and tips on companionship in later life. In future posts, we’ll be talking about relationships, love,  intimacy and sexuality. You might also want to check out our Aging Wisely post, The Age of Love and Older Adult Relationships for thoughtful questions to ask yourself.

Senior Companionship, Loss and Isolation in the Elderly

  • Seniors disproportionately suffer from loneliness and isolation. It is estimated that among those aged over 65, between 5 and 16 per cent report loneliness and 12 per cent feel isolated.
  • Studies show that acute loneliness and social isolation can impact gravely on wellbeing and quality of life, with demonstrable negative health effects. Being lonely has a significant and lasting negative effect on blood pressure. It is also associated with depression (either as a cause or as a consequence) and higher rates of mortality.
  • People of all ages find different needs fulfilled through different relationships, activities and roles. The accumulated losses that tend to accompany aging can have a major impact on psychosocial well-being which can even lead to physical impacts.

Senior Companionship Tips: How to Help Your Elderly Loved Ones

A hired senior companion may not be your first thought as a solution to some of these issues, but can help in various ways.

  • A senior companion or home health aide can provide senior transportation and other services to enable continued (or renewed) participation in activities. The senior can continue attending events, socializing with friends and staying active. Knowing someone is there to help if needed can make outings more comfortable. EasyLiving even offers Elder Concierge Services to help plan special events or accompany your loved one on a trip (to attend family reunions, a grandchild’s wedding, take a cruise, etc.).
  • A home health aide can help with personal care and grooming. Looking our best helps us feel our best. As these abilities decline, this may be a further reason that a senior withdraws.
  • Having a home health aide to assist with tasks can allow other relationships to continue in a more natural manner. If son or daughter is not handling all the personal care and household tasks, he/she can be less rushed and enjoy precious time with Mom. Many of our clients tell us that having a professional to assist them with personal care provides them dignity they don’t feel they’d have if they had to ask their son or daughter to help them with a bath or toileting. Additionally, asking neighbors or friends for extensive assistance can make the senior feel burdensome. It is great to enlist the help of the elder’s support system, but sometimes having additional professional assistance can be a true gift to the elder.
  • Though it may be a professional relationship, a home health aide naturally offers companionship and interaction that can add variety for the elder. Our EasyLiving team makes a special effort to match our caregivers to employees and provide them information to personalize the care and relationship. Read more about our Life History and Daily Routines Questionnaire and care planning process.

Our team is always glad to talk with you about any concerns you have for your elderly parents or other relatives. We can share tips and resources and set up a care plan that addresses concerns. We often hear one of the initial worries elders have in engaging in-home care is the loss of independence and “having to entertain someone” (or direct them) in the home (personal space), but the reality tends to be the complete opposite. Having an in-home caregiver offers a new level of freedom, more natural roles to continue and longer-term independence. Typically, clients also find they enjoy spending time with the caregiver and become more engaged in life again. Contact EasyLiving Home Health online or at 727-447-5845.

Stay tuned for upcoming posts on relationships and intimacy in later life and feel free to leave us a question to address (in “comments” or on our Facebook page)!