Elderly Companionship: Why It’s So Important
As we get older and retire from our jobs, our children grow up and move away and, sadly, friends pass away, the amount of social interaction that we have begins to decline. According to the last U.S. Census Bureau, 11.3 million older adults who didn’t live in a nursing home or hospital lived alone and suffer from loneliness. There are also elderly couples where one is taking care of the other, but lose contact with friends and family.
“Elderly who suffer from loneliness and lack of social interaction also suffer from more illness and mental health issues,” said Laura Trevino, the owner of Trevino Funeral Home in Corpus Christi, Texas.
One 2013 British study tracked 6,500 people for seven years and the results showed that lack of social interaction can actually lead to early death. “There is good news though — other studies have shown that there are benefits to elderly companionship, including a feeling of self-worth,” said Trevino.
For example, the National Institute on Aging says that social well-being may be associated with lower levels of interleukin-6 in otherwise healthy people. Interleukin-6 is an inflammatory factor implicated in age-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer.
Now that we understand why it’s so important that the elderly socialize, here are some tips on how to get them to do it:
- Hire a companion: “There are many companies that provide companions for the elderly,” said Trevino. “They provide individualized care and services such as cooking and cleaning, but most importantly they will also play games, go shopping, take walks and take them to the movies.”
- Move them to an active community: Seniors like to age-in-place, but if it means they aren’t getting out into the community, you might want to have a hard-hitting talk about moving. “Together you might be able to find a local senior center or senior living community that comes with fun activities such as computer classes, bingo, excursions to the movies or local theater groups,” said Trevino.
- Get them to volunteer: If the senior citizen is still independent, see if there are any volunteering opportunities they would like to participate in. “For example, there are volunteer openings at hospitals and animal shelters,” said Trevino. “Ask them what they may want to do and, if they don’t drive, arrange for someone to get them there safely.”
- Talk to the family: If there are other family members, see if they can help you to share responsibility. “Maybe you can all take turns stopping by and visiting,” said Trevino.
There are solutions. Having a heart-to-heart talk might even uncover some other fun things that your loved one wants to do, but just has no way of doing them. “Start a conversation and check in from time to time to make sure things are going well,” said Trevino. “You’ll see happy and healthy results.”
Trevino Funeral Home offers affordable funeral packages, memorial services, graveside ceremonies, military services, cremation, grief support and more. They also offer a free casket to all veterans. Trevino Funeral Home is family owned and operated with locations in Corpus Christi and Alice. For more information, visit http://www.trevinofuneralhome.net or stop by at 3006 Niagara, Corpus Christi, Texas 78405; or call 361-879-0085.
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