A lot of people underestimate the power of social interaction. With so much focus on physical and mental health, emotional health often falls to the wayside.
In fact, physical, mental, and emotional health are all tied together and interdependent. Emotional issues can lead to mental problems, and mental conditions can result in poor physical health. And the cycle continues.
Studies on the benefits of social activity for seniors indicate that there is a correlative link between regular social interaction and reduced risk of dementia and premature death.
Also, insufficient social engagement can lead to social isolation and end in depression, or worse.
Pre-retirement, most adults interact with a multitude of people on a daily basis. After retirement, social activity takes a huge dip. People tend to lose touch with coworkers and colleagues, kids move out of the house, friends move on or pass away, and an empty space is left where ample social activity used to reside.
What can Companion Caregivers do to help?
A companion caregiver can help fill the void of absent or diminished social activity. Companion caregivers can offer a double bonus, because not only are they offering social interaction and emotional support, they are also focused on improved health.
Companion care can be especially helpful for seniors who live alone. It can really help to have someone to talk to after the loss of a spouse. Feelings and emotional issues can be a difficult subject to broach with family members.
Companion caregivers can also assist seniors by taking them to appointments, helping them run errands, and helping out with light tasks.
Benefits of Caregiver Companionship
There are many advantages to be gained from the services of a companion caregiver. They can really improve the quality of life for seniors that may be feeling lonely, or just not getting enough social interaction.
Some useful benefits of companion care, may include:
- Mental stimulation
- Lower risk of cognitive decline
- Lower risk of physical health conditions
- Recovery assistance
- Emotional support
- Reduced stress
After reaching the age of 60, it is more important than ever to keep the brain sharp and the senses stimulated. There are a variety of cognitive exercises that can help improve executive cognitive function.
Executive function refers to 3 main brain activities:
- Working memory
- Mental flexibility
- Self control
Social interaction is good example of an activity that exercises executive function. Card games and board games are also good examples.
Learning something new is a great way to build on executive function. Any interactive activity with music, like dancing, singing, or playing an instrument is also very effective.
Lower Risk of Cognitive Decline
It has been demonstrated that regular social interaction can help stave off cognitive decline and dementia.
Other studies show that seniors who are socially isolated tend to die at a younger age, even with no other existing health problems.
Companion caregivers can offer seniors an additional social connection. A social connection that is there to be fully supportive and to help improve emotional, mental, and physical health.
Lower Risk of Physical Health Conditions
Not only can social activity help prevent cognitive decline, but also physical decline.
Research indicates that seniors who are social isolated have roughly a 30% higher risk for both cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Social isolation can be a contributing factor for heart disease, carrying roughly the same weight as unhealthy life practices like smoking, and poor nutrition leading to obesity.
Plus, people that are consistently social tend to have elevated moods which provides more energy for physical activity.
For seniors that are recovering from illness or injury, companionship can help expedite the recovery process.
Just as a comfortable and safe environment aids healing, having a caring companion present can help reduce inflammation and pain.
The emotional support provided by a companion caregiver can help take some of the burden off family caregivers.
It can also help liven up the home care situation, offering some social variety.
Some studies have shown that a positive attitude and a happy life can outweigh good genetics for longer life.
Companion care can help reduce stress for seniors, as well as their families, offering some peace of mind for everyone involved.
It can offer a little supervision, mixed with social interaction, for seniors that are having trouble managing routine tasks and activities.
Family caregivers can get a stress-free break from caregiving duties, knowing their loved one is in good hands.