Companion care for seniors is a priority for caregivers. Most seniors in Canada prefer ageing in their own homes with the dignity, comfort and safety of familiar surroundings and memories. Many seniors live alone in their homes, there is a risk of social isolation.
A Canadian psychologist, Ami Rokach, who studies loneliness, has stated that “Loneliness in Canadian seniors is an epidemic.” Statistic Canada claims that around 1.4 million seniors in Canada suffer from loneliness.
As a caregiver, your job is not limited to cooking, cleaning, and providing support to clients. You are their companion and becomes a permanent and vital part of their clients’ lives. So your first duty is providing companion care for seniors.
As family members can not always visit their loved ones; because of their professional and personal commitments, and the pandemic has limited social interactions. So, a caregiver may often be the only source of social interaction for a senior for extended periods. The quality of companionship that a caregiver can provide can have a huge impact on the mental and physical well-being of a client. Studies have shown that companionship can have a huge positive impact on seniors. They recover faster from disease and injuries, are healthier mentally, eat a better diet and have better engagement with their doctors and health providers compared to those who are suffering from loneliness.
However, there is more to companionship than just being there. A few companionship duties that professional caregivers are expected to carry out every day are:
1. Everyday Assistance
Everyday assistance is support for all activities essential for daily living.
These can include support and assistance in grooming, dressing, bathing and household chores while ensuring the safety and well-being of those under care.
Caregivers need to make themselves familiar with the daily routines and preferences of their clients and ensure that they are on hand to assist them while respecting their clients’ independence and dignity. Most professional care agencies usually help the caregivers do this by developing a detailed care plan and a list of activities of daily living that the caregiver should help the client with.
2. Social Activities Support
In addition to supporting their clients with household chores and daily tasks, caregivers often take them out also for activities such as a stroll in the park, group activities, visiting friends and neighbours, shopping and entertainment. This keeps their clients healthy and improves their quality of life. Caregivers must encourage and motivate their clients to maintain an active social life. They should keep a calendar of social appointments and events and make sure that they make it easy for their clients to prepare for and participate in these activities.
3. Maintaining Dignity and Independence
It is very important for seniors to maintain their dignity and independence. A caregiver plays a critical role in this by making their clients feel that they are heard and seen. Elderly can maintain their daily routines without giving up their favourite activities. Caregivers must make the senior feel as if they are not a burden on their families.
Caregivers can ensure that their clients can continue to meet friends and go out to eat at their favourite restaurants. Elderly can still attend the neighbourhood cookouts, block parties and attend classes in community centres. They can still go to the park or stroll around the neighbourhood.
Mobility is critical for seniors to help them feel independent and dignified. However, seniors may not feel comfortable or safe on their own when driving or using a transportation service. They may be embarrassed to ask friends or family to drive them somewhere. Caregivers can help by providing transportation or booking transportation and accompanying their clients.
Providing quality companionship is a critical part of a caregiver’s job. It helps seniors maintain their daily routines and independence with dignity and comfort. Companionship has shown to have a strong positive impact on their physical and mental well-being. Caregivers must understand what quality companionship care for seniors entails. They must make sure that they make it a part of their daily caregiving routine.