The impact of the pandemic’s forced isolation has been profound for older adults, affecting their mental and physical health, and, in many cases, their living environment and routines. More than 12 million older Americans currently live alone.
And with families relying on technology to virtually celebrate birthdays, holidays, and other events, the pandemic created a gap in face-to-face “check-ins” with aging family members—the opportunity to see how things are going, assist with errands, or tackle a home repair.
Millions of older Americans are in the category of not needing the round-theclock services of a skilled nursing facility or even the clinical services of a visiting nurse, but would benefit from assistance with aspects of their home lives that do contribute to their physical and mental health. This may include:
- Technology assistance
- Meal preparation
- Light housework
- Transportation to and from doctor’s appointments
- Perhaps most crucially, social interaction
Below are four signs that additional help, in the form of a companion, could be useful to improve the health and overall well-being of a loved one.
Caregiver checklist: Signs your loved one could need additional help
Repeated comments about loneliness — Some older adults may not outright express feelings of despair, but according to the University of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging, one in five older adults reported experiencing worse depression or sadness since the start of the pandemic. Whether due to a decline in social interactions, the passing away of peers, or less frequent trips outside the house, loneliness can significantly impact a person’s health, increasing their risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression, and dementia, among other impacts. hanging a picture on the wall. Companions can also provide an extra set of eyes, checking for fall hazards like uneven floorboards.
Lack of nutritious food in the home — Having consistent access to healthy food is critical as food insecurities contribute to an additional 11% in annual health care costs and increase the likelihood of emergency department visits and hospital admissions by 50%. Check the refrigerator and cupboard of your loved one for healthy food options. A lack of fresh options, like vegetables, or a pantry with lots of expired items, could be a sign they’re having difficulty getting to the grocery store on a consistent basis, something a companion could help arrange.
Neglected housekeeping and home maintenance — As we age, general housekeeping and home repairs can become more difficult. Even simply changing a lightbulb can be a burdensome, and potentially dangerous, task for those living alone. If your loved one expresses difficulty in keeping up with chores, a companion may be able to assist with light cleaning around the house, helping with things like grabbing the mail, or
Increased isolation due to lack of consistent transportation — Coordinating rides to medical appointments, the grocery store or simply to see a friend can be challenging for older family members. The logistics can also be stressful for a primary caregiver, who can often end up as the main or only source of transportation. If a loved one is spending more time at home, a companion could help ensure he or she is able to get out, sharing the burden of providing a ride or coordinating logistics.
What kinds of services can help fill the caregiver gap?
Caregiving is a challenging role—even when it’s done for those we love most. If one or more of these signs exist for an older adult in your life, there are services that can help fill this gap in companionship and in-home support.
Source: National Council on Aging. Read more at ncoa.org.
SourcePoint offers in-home care services and caregiver support that can help—and we’re just a phone call away! Call 740-363-6677 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.