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How companionship helps seniors thrive

Explore the many benefits of companionship for seniors who may be experiencing loneliness

Does your aging loved one live alone?

As more of our seniors choose to age in place, it can raise concerns about not only their physical health but their mental health, too.

While not always linked, living independently can often lead to loneliness. Recent research found that: 

  • 60 percent of adults 45 and older who lived alone reported feeling a lack of companionship, and
  • 41 percent reported feeling isolated. [1]

These statistics don’t even consider the amount of time seniors living alone (either independently, at a nursing home or in a retirement community) have spent isolated this year due to COVID-19. For nearly the whole year, seniors across the country have been separated from their children, spouses, grandchildren, friends, and even neighbors to keep them safe from the health threats posed by the coronavirus.

One of the most effective ways to combat the negative physical and mental effects of loneliness and isolation for seniors is companionship. Join us as we explore the many benefits of companionship for seniors and how it can help them flourish—especially as they age in place.

Understanding loneliness

Loneliness is a feeling that appears in different ways for every person. However, it’s important to recognize some of the most common signs of loneliness to watch for, including:

  • Inability to connect on a deeper level with others
  • No close friends
  • A feeling of isolation, even when in a group
  • Exhaustion in social situations, and 
  • Always feeling drained or unmotivated. [2]

There are three types of loneliness that you can experience: social loneliness, emotional loneliness, and existential loneliness

Social loneliness is when you don’t feel a sense of belonging to a group. [3] As seniors age, they may have been forced to move out of necessity which also caused them to lose friends and a social circle that they once had to keep them socially connected. 

A feeling of a lack of relationship or attachment is known as emotional loneliness. [3] This form of loneliness is common in seniors who have lost a partner or no longer have children living at home. 

The most intangible of the three, existential loneliness, is a general feeling of not knowing your place in the universe. [3] It often occurs during periods of transition in your life where you don’t know what to expect or where you feel like you’re the only one experiencing a certain issue.

The mental health benefits of companionship for seniors

One of the most common benefits of companionship is improved mental health.

A senior’s companion helps to fill the vital human need of social interaction. Consistent conversation and communication help seniors avoid feeling lonely and continue to be interested in socializing with others overall. Companions also provide seniors with a sense of security in knowing there is someone there to help them avoid potential dangers such as falls and keep their house in order.

Companionship not only provides seniors with the mental health benefits of social interaction, but it also takes stress off family members who would otherwise be caring for the senior. This allows time spent with family to be carefree and fun rather than stressful and time consuming. A caregiver can also make seniors feel like less of a burden to their family members because they still have the help that they need without placing the responsibility on their family.

Seniors who stay connected to their social ties tend to have higher rates of self esteem and life satisfaction than those who are socially isolated—whether that’s through friendships, family relationships, or companionship. [4]

The physical health benefits of companionship

While companionship may be solely perceived as beneficial to your mental health, it also provides extensive benefits to your physical health as well.

Research has show that companionship can help prevent various health issues for seniors including:

  • Cognitive decline
  • Dementia, and
  • Cardiovascular disease. [5]

Better nutrition and increased physical activity are often counted among the benefits of companionship for seniors. Many home health-aides prepare and provide food to their seniors which allows them to have consistent meals with the proper nutritional content.

With a companion to rely on, seniors often become more physically active even if it’s just to move around the house more frequently. Companions can assist seniors in taking short walks or visiting friends for social activities. Any form of physical movement helps seniors to maintain healthy bone density, flexibility, and muscle mass. 

Companionship is key to helping seniors thrive

The benefits of companionship are extensive from improved cognitive function to increased mental health and overall well-being.

For seniors who find themselves living alone in a time of mandatory isolation, companionship from a loving caregiver could essentially be a life saver—both for them and their loved ones.

Looking for a companion? 

At Flourish in Place, our caregivers are committed to providing compassionate and innovative care for seniors and persons with disabilities to allow them to flourish with dignity in the comfort and safety of their own homes.

As an independently and locally owned business, we are solely focused on the needs of our seniors in Central Florida.  

To learn more, please request your Free Consultation today.

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2: Cigna

3: Psychology Today

4: Companions for Seniors

5: National Center for Biotechnology Information

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