‘‘No man is an island’. As one gets older and the number of family members, friends and relatives dwindle, companionship becomes more of an invaluable asset than simply a basic need for the elderly. Nowadays, more children are living in different states or different countries, occupied with their careers, their own families, and daily chores, leaving an empty nest which often leaves our parents alone to fend for themselves.
Do you think social media and smart gadgets are the answers to replace companionship for the old folks in this new age of information technology such as Skype and Facetime? We probably should think again by looking at the importance of companionship for elderly citizens.
Studies show that older adults who are lack of companionship and feel lonely are at greater risk for diseases or having medical incidents, such as stroke, heart disease, poor immune functioning high blood pressure, and degrading cognitive abilities, such as a greater risk of memory loss. In fact, there is also evidence that people with signs of being lonely could be at risk of death or suicide.
Companionship is fundamentally essential for the elderly to avoid them ending up with anxiety or depression, to fill their latter days with cheerfulness, as well as maintaining and preserving their cognitive abilities.
Now that we know that companionship is equally important for the elderly as well as for the younger generations, the next question to ask would be how do we go about finding the best companionship for them. For senior citizens who are independent, they usually like to meet another elderly person to reminisce about “the good old days,” to share their family’s problems, gossip, to play a game of chess or just to ‘yum cha’ for a few hours.
For senior citizens who are less independent, and are in a nursing home or in their own comfort zone at their own homes, caregivers are the ones who will be most suitable to accompany them and take care of them on a daily basis. According to Pillar (www.pillarcare.com), a company that specializes in elderly care, a certified, trained and professional caregiver must be trustworthy, have a clean criminal and service record, be physically and mentally healthy, reasonably young and able to communicate and understand the needs of the elderly.
The rapport that the caregiver provides whether for a short or long period is essential for the elderly person. Even spending one to two hours going for a stroll, having a cup of tea, buying medicine or simply listening to them, can brighten the day of an elderly person.
Few people know that there are trained caregivers--in between a maid and a nurse--who are trained to come to your home and care for your elderly person in their “comfort zone,” whether for a few hours, all day and every day, or they can even stay in your home and look after your senior loved one.
Our parents, and all the elderly really, have done a lot for us without asking anything in return. As a member of the family, we see it befitting that we ensure there are sufficient companionship and care during our absences by providing the appropriate and trained caregivers--not maids--to help them better enjoy their “golden years.”