- Loneliness can affect anyone, but in the elderly it’s far too common.
- Loneliness can actually impact both mental and physical health – playing a role in developing conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
- Having a companion to chat to can really help alleviate feelings of loneliness – this is where companionship care comes in.
According to Age UK, over 2 million people over the age of 75 are living alone in England and over one million of these say they go over a month with no communication with friends and family.
Research indicates that loneliness can be a crucial factor in developing Alzheimer’s disease. Older people who report that they experience severe loneliness are twice as likely to develop the condition.
Our society has changed dramatically over the past few decades and families no longer spend as much time together as they used to.
As people age, their social networks may not be as strong, meaning television, radio and pets are their main source of companionship. A fear of falling over may keep them from getting out and about on their own, and if they aren’t able to drive, being on their own can turn into loneliness.
The global coronavirus pandemic has meant having to keep our distance from loved ones and spend months inside our homes with little company. This has worsened mental health concerns across age groups – but with many older people having to shield to protect their health, loneliness experienced by the elderly, in particular, has increased.
A friendly face doesn’t always mean seeing someone in person. It’s important to remember that companionship can be a phone call – or a visit from outside the window in this time of uncertainty. The internet has made it easier than ever to communicate with people on the other side of the world, but we tend to forget that many of the older generation are unfamiliar with digital technology.
Companionship care is essentially the same service as live-in care, where a carer moves into the home to provide full-time assistance. However, it tends to be less likely the person requiring support will need the higher levels of personal care.
The benefits of companionship
Having someone to talk to, and interact with, can make a lonely older person’s day. Knowing that a visitor is coming to spend time with them acts as a powerful motivator to get up, bathe and get dressed in clean clothes.
Reminiscing about days gone by, interacting with other people and passing on snippets of wisdom gained over a lifetime can all help a lonely older person to re-engage with the world.
‘Use it or lose it’ applies to mental ability every bit as much as it applies to physical movement, and a stimulating and engaging conversation can quickly dispel the misery of loneliness.
It’s not hard to see that a mind that isn’t exercised can soon start to lose its strength, and once a person has become steeped in loneliness, it can be difficult to raise interest in life again.
A live-in carer is able to provide company for everyday tasks that most of us may take for granted, such as eating meals together, playing board games and other day-to-day activities. They are there to be a live-in friend to your loved one, helping to keep them happy and having fun.
Also, having a younger carer in the house provides great support for the elderly with things like technology to help them stay in touch with friends and family, as well as helping them plan activities to see friends when we can again.
Not only that, but a companionship carer can help with daily errands such as supermarket trips and driving to places which your loved one may no longer be able to – a handy friend to have around the home.
Elderly care solutions
We all have families and homes that need our attention, and with the majority of people now working, finding the time to spend with an elderly loved one isn’t always as easy as you might expect.
Yet it’s still possible to ensure that our elderly relatives are receiving the attention and mental stimulation that they require, by providing a suitable companion for them.
The carer will make sure that your loved one doesn’t fall for doorstep con artists and internet scammers, who are known to target the elderly, and will be on hand to deal with any emergencies that arise.
From helping with the shopping and cooking to lending a hand with the household chores, the live-in companion carer will happily tackle a wide range of jobs to ensure that your relative is kept stimulated, well-nourished and in the best of health.
How Elder can help with companionship care
At Elder we are able to offer home care services at a variety of levels – companionship care being one of them.
Our personality matching component is a core aspect of our live-in care service – meaning your loved one is matched with a companion based on their individual needs and personality. This is an important part of finding a companion for your loved one.
If you’re concerned your loved one may have needs beyond the remit of companionship care, you may want to consider a care needs assessment and vocalise your preference for live-in care. This can help pinpoint your loved ones’ exact needs and be a step in securing any necessary funding.
Someone to have a conversation with
Talking is something that we all enjoy, and for an elderly person, knowing that there is someone close at hand that they can engage in conversation can make a massive difference to their lives.
Companionship care is a great option for many, however for those who may not be ready to take the step, or would need funding, there are other options. Age UK, for example, provides different befriending options for seniors – including phone calls with volunteers.
Many members of the older generation have skills and stories that they would love to pass on to younger people, such as memories of historical events and tales from the past. Sharing these memories can be fulfilling and uplifting.
Days out and activities are more fun with someone to share them with, and just the presence of another adult in the home can be all that’s needed to spur your elderly relative into getting out and about and socialising, enabling them to get the maximum amount of enjoyment every day.
You may not be able to be a constant presence in your elderly relative’s life, but with the assistance of a dedicated carer, you can stop spending time worrying about them, secure in the knowledge that they are safe and content.
Patricia’s carer, Rose, helps her to continue doing the things she loves such as gardening and going to the park – all with the company of her friendly carer who is now like a part of the family.
While Patricia needs a higher level of care as she’s living with dementia, companionship care is available to those who may not need much care at all but instead the support of a friend.
Care at home doesn’t just cover dementia care or provide for people with poor health. Live-in care is an ideal way of ensuring that your loved one is safe, comfortable and being taken care of at all times, and provides your ageing relative with company and support whenever they need it.
What does a companion carer do?
Companion care can be arranged according to your loved one’s needs. Perhaps they need someone to call in a couple of times a week, to spend time chatting over a cup of tea, and maybe accompany them on occasional outings or shopping trips.
For elderly people who are feeling exceptionally lonely, are experiencing some health problems, or are just feeling particularly vulnerable living alone, a live-in companion carer is an ideal solution.
It allows your loved one to continue to enjoy living in their own home, but also provides 24-hours of care at home with someone on hand day and night should they need help or support.
A live-in carer will make sure that your elderly relative can stay in touch with friends and family who live further afield, by using social media and helping them with emails and video phone calls, if this is something that they would like help with.
Live-in carers can help with a number of day-to-day tasks and care needs including:
Help getting dressed
Support with mobility