The great benefits of a companion

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FriendsQ: Two years ago my mom passed away leaving my 82-year father on his own.  He has been doing okay overall, but when I visited him after work yesterday I saw that the house was a mess and that the mail had piled up on the kitchen table. His fridge was bare except for some expired milk and old leftovers from when I visited last week. I work full-time and have school-aged kids.  I know he would never consider moving to a retirement facility, but I can’t visit him as often as I would like and I’m worried about him.  Any advice for someone with an aging parent who refuses to leave his home? B. O’Rourke, Warren

 

A: From what you describe, your dad doesn’t need the “hands-on” nurse-supervised help of a home health aide who would assist with bathing, grooming or dressing.  Instead a companion hired for a few hours a week could really help support your father’s independence at home.   Companions can help him handle many of the responsibilities that he used to be on top of on his own like shopping, cleaning and running errands.  If you hire a companion through a home care agency, they can create a plan of services tailor-made to his needs.

Companions provide seniors with much needed help but beyond the obvious, they also provide emotional support and encouragement to stay as healthy as possible. One of the plagues of living at home alone is loneliness. Companion care provides a valuable social benefit by decreasing isolation and helping to reduce depression from being alone.  By engaging in conversation with their clients, companions help them stay mentally healthy and alert.  In fact, studies show that seniors who engage in mentally challenging leisure activities are less likely to develop dementia.  Of course, another direct benefit is the invaluable peace of mind that it offers you and the rest of your family.

With the flexible scheduling and the ability to hire a companion for just the amount of time your father needs, companion care at home can be also an economical alternative.  I would advise looking for a companion through a certified home care company. Also, an agency that is CHAP- and JCAHO- accredited is one more sign that the company puts quality first.  Good luck!

  1. My daughter is getting married at the end of the summer and would love for her 90 -year-old great aunt to attend.  We are afraid she is too frail to be left alone during the wedding, but we have no one available to help out.  Is it possible to hire a professional companion to assist my aunt for just this single event? J. Lawson, North Kingstown

 

  1. Yes, it is definitely possible to hire a companion for special events such as graduations, anniversary parties, weddings, and other gatherings.   While attending these important celebrations is wonderful for all of us, it can be very difficult for seniors with physical and/or cognitive limitations. Their restrictions can cause them to feel left out, lonely, and depressed. Hiring a home care companion for the day of the special event will ensure that elders are able to be included.

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