How Important is Companionship in Senior Care?
When you reach retirement age and consider a healthy lifestyle, often social interactions aren't at the top of your list. Instead, what comes to mind is healthy eating and exercise. So often, companionship and social interactions get neglected, which is essential for living a healthy and meaningful life.
Have you noticed a senior loved one appearing lonely or becoming withdrawn by avoiding social interactions? Let's discover the importance of companionship in senior care and the best tech-related products and services on the market to get your loved ones connecting again.
What is Companionship in Senior Care?
Companionship is fellowship and friendship between individuals that fulfil the need for human connection while providing a sense of belonging. It can be between an individual and their relative, pet, caregiver, friend, and other interactions that create social bonds. These interactions will keep a senior's mind active, promote optimistic thoughts, and significantly improve their mental health.
If an individual lacks companionship, they can develop physical and emotional issues such as cognitive decline, depression, social anxiety, and lack of interest in physical activities.
Benefits of Companionship
No matter what phase of life we are in, companionship is essential for living a healthy lifestyle. However, for seniors, maintaining a connection to society is more complex than for someone much younger. The benefits of seniors having companionship include:
- Personal health: According to a meta-analytic review on social relationships and mortality rates, people with strong social relationships had longer lifespans than those who didn't. Research shows that seniors with strong social relationships are 50% likely to live longer than those that don't.
- Safety: As we age, there is increased risk of injury from falls, making it more worrying for seniors to live alone. In Australia, falls cause more injury-related deaths than car fatalities. In addition, 38% of hospitalisations on people over the age of 65 are because of falls. Remaining connected to senior loved ones will give you peace of mind knowing that someone is around to check in on them.
- Sense of belonging: Companionship and connection with society will improve a senior’s sense of belonging and purpose in the community. We all need a reason to get out of bed each day and live a fulfilled life. Companionship will improve their mental health and give them a reason for living.
New and Innovative Ways to Provide Companionship for Seniors
If you are looking for ways to provide companionship for a senior loved one who lives far away, you might consider digital support.
Robotic pets are an excellent way to provide companionship for seniors because they provide realistic movements and sounds of real living animals. They are an excellent alternative to real animals where seniors cannot care for a live animal. In addition, these robotic pets are interactive and promote motivation in seniors, and reduce stress.
A memory care facility used robotic pets for dementia patients to determine if it would improve their level of comfort. They found that the seniors verbally interacted with the stuffed animal, amusement, comfort, and verbally engaged with the people around them.
There are several companies that offer a wonderful service of providing companionship for seniors. Volunteers get paired with older adults to help them run errands, tasks around the house, and friendship, for example, Senior Helpers. They offer a complementary in-home visit and provide invaluable support to older adults.
Telepresence Robots for Companionship in Senior Care
We live in a day and age where technology and innovation can meet your ageing loved one’s companionship needs. Telepresence robots are designed to help seniors connect with their care workers and family from the comfort of their own homes. Whether they are on the other side of the world or across town, you can use telepresence robot technology to simulate being in each other's presence.
All you need to do is call in to a telepresence robot to interact with your senior family member or home care customer. With a wide range of features, the robot has enhanced audio and a flexible screen that you can move from the ceiling to the floor for a clear view of the whole room. Once in a call, you can navigate the robot around the senior’s space without them needing to handle or manage any aspect of the technology.
With a telepresence robot, you can enjoy activities such as:
- Cooking the same meal
- Exercising together
- Watching a movie together
- Sharing pictures of loved ones with each other
- Listening to music and share stories
- Playing games, or
- Simply being in the presence of each other and having richer conversations
Alongside the family connection, care workers can dial in for wellness checks, plan reviews, or to detect falls for rapid response.
The possibilities with this technology are endless as you and the elderly person you care for can connect and spend quality time together. All it takes is a call to brighten someone's day, ask how their morning is going and share meaningful moments.
Some of the more promising partnerships involve connecting seniors with young volunteers (e.g. Cyber Seniors) who provide opportunities for both engagement and tech support. Young volunteers will teach seniors how to use their technology devices to better engage with their family, friends and carers.
Telepresence Robots – More Than Just a Communication Tool
According to Dr. Waycott from Melbourne University, there are considerable benefits to providing communication and video technologies to seniors. It can take them to places that they have been before and spark fond memories. This can ignite their passions and encourage storytelling and engagement with their peers and care workers.
The pandemic has forced us to consider new ways of doing things. “If you want to see what the future of ageing in place looks like, telepresence robots could well be part of it - the robot has applications from a social connectivity perspective and a caring perspective.” - Executive General Manager of Home Care.
Explore all the benefits of telepresence robots in Australian and New Zealand and how you can support the elderly people in your care. If you want to learn more about telepresence robots and what we’re doing in senior care, get in touch! Just email firstname.lastname@example.org
Robots4Good can help you change an elderly person’s life with a telepresence robot.