Learning that your senior loved one is lonely can be difficult. You may not be able to visit more regularly to ease their loneliness. Companion care is a service tailored to help prevent loneliness in aging adults –and the numerous health risks associated with feeling lonely.
The Health Risks of Loneliness
Imagine the health risks of your senior smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Research has equated loneliness as just as damaging as smoking that much over the age of 65. Loneliness poses many threats to the health of seniors:
Loneliness Can Contribute to High Blood Pressure
Extensive research has proven that adults over the age of 50 experience a direct relation between long-term loneliness and chronic high blood pressure. Called hypertension, high blood pressure is a serious medical condition that often requires treatment. It is associated with stress and increases the risk of stroke, organ damage, and more.
Feeling Lonely Can Diminish Mental Health
Not only does loneliness feel awful, but its effects on emotional well-being can be damaging to mental health too. Loneliness is associated with depression in seniors. A senior’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease also increases with feelings of loneliness.
The Risk of Obesity, Stroke, and Other Diseases Increases with Loneliness
For aging adults’ bodies to fight off diseases and function efficiently it is important that seniors aren’t lonely. Feeling alone can make an illness as minor as a cold more severe. It can also contribute to obesity and risk of stroke. Not surprisingly, research shows that lonely seniors spend an estimated $130 more each month in healthcare costs.
Social Isolation is a Threat to Health and Healing
There is a difference between feeling lonely and being isolated. However, both conditions increase the risk of mortality in seniors.
Loneliness, which can even be experienced when surrounded by other people in a nursing home, increases the risk of death through physical illness and lack of healing. Social isolation increases mortality risk because it puts seniors in situations where necessary, even life-saving care may be neglected, ignored or inaccessible.
The Health Benefits of Companion Care
As the Home Care Association of America points out, 21 percent of older adults don’t get to engage with other people regularly due to driving limitations. Many other seniors simply do not have community connections or family members nearby. As a result, loneliness is a common health risk among the aging.
Home care offers companionship services as a solution:
Companion Care Minimizes Both Social Isolation and Loneliness
Family members and friends are often unable to visit or socialize with senior family members on a regular basis. Companion care is a home care service offered to ensure seniors have regular opportunities for connection.
Companion care address the health risks of loneliness by ensuring aging adults have consistent interactions with a caregiver. The caregiver companion’s job is to show seniors love through personalized attention and time spent together.
At the same time, companion services reduce the risks of social isolation because seniors are not alone. This can give both seniors and their families’ peace of mind that if they need help, someone is present, attentive, and available.
Feelings of Loneliness are reduced by Companion Services
For many seniors, loneliness is about more than seeing other people regularly. Seniors long for personal connection and friendly social activity. Feeling lonely can fade when companions engage in one-on-one, beloved activities with a senior in order to develop a personal relationship with them.
Companion care services can be tailored to foster such connections through shared activities like:
- Playing games
- Making art
- Going for walks
- Attending events or religious services together
- Hosting friends in the home
- Completing puzzles
- Reading out loud
- Working on hobbies
Activities like these ease the depression and loneliness that many seniors suffer from. To learn more about companion care and how caregivers can solve the problem of senior loneliness health risks, download this FREE Guide to Home Care.