The link between social isolation and overall well-being highlights the importance of companionship for seniors. Seniors living on their own, particularly those with chronic illnesses and limited mobility are at increased risk of social isolation. It is not just an unpleasant feeling – social isolation has been shown to have detrimental mental, physical and emotional effects.
Seniors who report feeling lonely are at greater risk of dementia, cognitive decline, heart disease and depression. Seniors who report feeling socially isolated are also more likely to engage in behaviours that are unhealthy such as smoking or taking up a sedentary lifestyle. Conversely, seniors who report having high levels of social support have greater sense of control, esteem and stronger coping strategies and are more likely to engage in healthy behaviours.
Caregivers often become companions, whether intentionally or as a by-product of the regular interaction they have with the seniors they care for. When seniors and their caregivers develop and enjoy deep friendships, it can bolster feelings of well-being, happiness and security. Moreover, it can help to make activities like exercising and healthy eating more enjoyable. Caregivers providing companionship for seniors can help seniors with mobility or health issues participate in their communities or enjoy social events by supporting their transportation and health care needs.
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