You visit your mom one day in the late afternoon and find that she is still in her bedclothes. The sink is full of dishes and she hasn’t eaten lunch yet. These aren’t signs that you need to consider placing your aging parent into a nursing home. You simply need elderly companion care to support your mom in the home when you can’t be there.
Elderly companion care is non-skilled and non-medical care that assists seniors with activities and personal needs that have become difficult to complete on their own. Typically provided by a home health aide, tasks do not require the skilled services of a nurse. A University of Michigan study reported that two-thirds of older Americans need some form of assistance to go about their daily lives. The same study that focused on over 8,000 older adults noted that while 90 percent of seniors ate on their own, only 54 percent could bathe without help.
Reduce Stress, Increase Quality of Life
Many times, families simply can’t visit their elderly parents on a daily basis to provide needed assistance. Elderly companion care services can attend to seniors’ daily needs, taking the stress and worry away from family members to know their elderly loved one is safe and secure and enjoying life to the fullest. These in-home nonskilled services also ensure your aging parent doesn’t stop socialization and become isolated in the home. The Center for Advancing Health reports that elderly people who are socially active and maintain or increase interactions with others have a slower progression of health declines than elderly people who are less socially engaged. They also are more motivated to maintain their health.
Elderly companion care also ensures your mom and dad can enjoy their senior years in the comfort of their home as long as possible. According to a study conducted by the AARP, almost 90% of seniors want to stay in their own homes as they get older. In fact, 82% prefer to stay in their homes when receiving daily assistance. Plus, seniors can live more independently when living in their homes, that adds to their quality of life.
Signs You Should Consider Companion Care
As your parents age, they may become forgetful, slower, or just afraid to execute certain activities that involve prolonged standing, climbing stairs and other maneuvers. If a spouse died, they might not know how to perform certain tasks such as cooking a meal and grocery shopping. Signs that your mom or dad might need a companion include:
According to WebMD, seniors who stop driving often experience a decline in mental and physical well-being. Keeping them mobile, but not behind the wheel, can help them still feel independent.
As your parents get older, it’s inevitable they will take some medications. Results from a poll of U.S. seniors 65 and older who use medications found that 51% take at least 5 different prescriptions each day and 1 in 4 takes between 10 and 19 pills daily. That’s a lot to remember and organize. A skipped medication could affect your aging loved one’s health and ability to live in their home.
Missed doctor appointments
Maturing adults typically have appointments with different doctors to treat their vision, eyes, feet, heart, etc. Keeping track is important as the results of one appointment may be critical in treating other disorders. The elderly that miss a doctor appointment run the risk of an undetected or untreated condition that can result in a more profound illness in the future.
Clutter can cause tripping hazards that result in falls, the leading cause of fatal injury and non-fatal, trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults. Keeping the house tidy is important for safety and home pride.
Poor personal hygiene
As mom gets older and becomes more unsteady, she might become afraid to get in and out of the tub or take a shower without someone in attendance or to assist her. Or, she might start having difficulty getting dressed or fastening buttons. As a result, her hygiene suffers as she fails to change clothes or bathe regularly. Poor hygiene can lead to skin infections and other maladies that affect health.
Loss of spouse
Maybe your father drove your mother to all her appointments. Or your mother cooked all your dad’s meals and he doesn’t even know how to turn on the stove. Companion care can make a big difference in filling in the void to continue certain activities so seniors don’t live in despair in losing both a spouse and their lifestyle.
A common myth is that seniors lose their appetite as they age. Nutrition remains important, especially for seniors who have specific dietary requirements. Preparing meals may become too challenging for some seniors who resort to eating unhealthy snack foods. Some seniors may hate to eat alone, so they reduce meal intake. Eating regular, healthy meals is important to maintaining health
To continue living at home, a maturing adult may need assistance with different types of daily living activities. These may include:
Activities of Daily Living
Instrumental Activities of Daily Living
- Basic communication skills
- Meal preparation
- Managing medications
Companion care can provide needed transportation and assistance to and from the doctor’s office as well as getting physician notes to share with family. Or, companion care can assist in grocery shopping and meal preparation. Your independent parents only might need standby assistance while others require more hands-on care. The type of contracted care depends on your loved one’s needs. You can schedule services to hours that best meet your family needs.
Most home care agencies are flexible in designing a full- or part-time care plan that suits your mom’s requirements. When contracting companion care services, consider the following elements as part of the agreement:
- Date/Time Period: When do you want the caregiver to start providing services? How many hours per week and what days do you want services? Do you just need care for a limited period when you are away on vacation or on business trips?
- Services: What specific services do you need? If it includes meal preparation, what elements are included such as making and serving foods, providing meal companionship, feeding assistance and cleaning up? Be specific and don’t assume the care giver will know what you expect.
- Compensation: What will you pay per hour? Will you provide overtime pay for holidays and weekends?
Revisit the care plan as your mom’s health changes or she asks for greater assistance. Companion care provides great support for the sandwich generation who work and still must care for their parents and children. It ensures your aging loved ones are not neglected and provides both you and them with the assurance that they can continue to live at home independently under the best conditions. Plus, they might make a new friend.
» READ NEXT: What To Do When Your Aging Parents Reject Home Care.