The Importance of Companion Care for Seniors

Few children would hesitate to step in if their elderly parent needed a little help around the house. Further, if a parent seemed lonely, who wouldn’t come over and spend some time with them? Things get tricky, however, when you find yourself spending more and more time with your parent to the detriment of your other responsibilities.

Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in a day and it can be difficult to balance the demands of a job, family and an elderly parent. Many adult children burn themselves out because they are unable to free themselves of unrealistic expectations. In other words, they refuse to ask for help in caring for their elderly parent because they feel as if they have to be everything to everyone.

One option for adult children who are struggling to care for a parent is to consider in-home care. However, many individuals reject this option if their parent isn’t sick. After all, if a parent doesn’t need medical care, why hire a health care provider? Perhaps the most important reason is that by delegating some of the more routine care of your adult parent, you will be better able to be there for that parent in the long run.

Almost all in-home health care agencies provide both home care and nursing care. These agencies have an option for seniors who don’t need skilled nursing care but do require assistance with things like light housekeeping. They also can provide what many seniors living on their own need most of all-companionship. The majority of in-home health care agencies offer different levels of care with home care costing much less than skilled nursing care.

Home care usually falls into two categories-companion care and personal care. Those providing companion care cannot help patients bathe or administer medications but they can remind an older person to do these things. Companion care provides help with activities like grocery shopping, pet care or tidying up. The most important service companion care provides, however, is just what its name implies: companionship. Going on walks, playing cards or just talking and being present is vital to a senior’s sense of well-being and improves mental health and mobility.

Finding the right companion care provider can be time-consuming but is worth the effort. It also is important to allow your loved one to be involved as much as possible in the selection process. After all, no matter how much you like a potential caregiver, you aren’t the one who will be spending your time with this person.

Once you have found a caregiver that your parent seems to click with, here are some ways to make the transition as smoothly as possible:

  • Take it slowly. Have the caregiver start by coming just a few hours a week and gradually increase the amount of time he or she spends in the home. This will allow your parent and caregiver to get to know each other in a more natural manner.
  • Make it a family affair-at first. Consider being there for the first few visits to make things less awkward.
  • Check-in. Once the caregiver is in place make sure that you check in periodically with your loved one and the caregiver to make sure things continue to run smoothly.

The goal of any child caring for an elderly parent is to keep that parent as happy and healthy as possible. Making sure that parent enjoys companionship is one of the best ways to do that. Fortunately, companionship comes in many forms so everyone-including adult children-can remain happy, healthy and stress-free.