We all know that exercise, proper nutrition, and getting enough sleep help us stay healthy as we age. But did you know research shows that social interaction is one of the most important aspects of living a long, healthy life?
Most adults interact with several people a day who provide companionship such as coworkers, friends, and family members. However, for seniors, regular opportunities for social engagement usually diminish. They retire from jobs, children move away, friends and spouses pass away, and eventually they may become housebound if they lose the ability to drive or become ill.
Seniors who live alone often experience social isolation and feelings of loneliness, which causes their health to decline. Companionship is a key part of senior care, not just because companions provide assistance with daily tasks such as housekeeping and personal care, but also because they provide a meaningful human connection that greatly improves quality of life. Here are some of the benefits of companionship for seniors.
Recent British research shows that seniors who experience social isolation have an increased risk of premature death, regardless of underlying health conditions. Companionship provides seniors with a social connection that combats isolation and depression, and has significant impact on their overall health and well-being.
Protection against dementia
Studies have shown that the more the seniors interact socially, the better they score on cognitive functioning. Researchers say it takes as little as ten minutes of talking to someone else to improve memory, providing the same boost as daily games and puzzles. A widespread Swedish study also noted that seniors who maintain meaningful relationships exhibit a reduced risk of developing dementia.
Lower risk of heart disease
A recent study found that people who suffer from loneliness or social isolation were 29% more likely to develop coronary heart disease and 32% more likely to have a stroke than those who were socially engaged. These statistics put loneliness on par with smoking and obesity as risk factors for heart disease.
Neuroscientists believe that companionship helps patients recover faster from the pain of surgery. Tests show people recovering from surgeries that have a friend or companion nearby suffer less nerve-related pain and inflammation levels lower faster, aiding the recovery process.
Peace of mind
As seniors age, they may begin to lose physical strength and mobility, making it dangerous for them to live alone. They might worry about will happen to them in an emergency, or if they suffer from a fall. Companionship provides seniors with a sense of security knowing there is someone there to help keep them safe when necessary, and also provides peace of mind for family members.
Most seniors want to stay living at home for as long as possible and meeting their desire to age in place has many advantages. But, it’s important to make sure that your loved has a healthy amount of social interaction, which can be difficult if they live alone. Bringing a caregiver into the home not only helps your loved one with activities of daily living, but also provides them with necessary social stimulation to live a healthy, happy life.
If you think an in-home caregiver might benefit your family, contact Family Matters In-Home Care for a free consultation. Our caregivers are thoughtfully selected to ensure that their skills and personalities will be the best possible fit for your loved one. We have seen many of our caregivers develop meaningful relationships with clients, and we strongly believe that these friendships have a positive effect on their overall health and well-being.