Companionship and Old Age Blues
‘‘No man is an island’. As one ages and the number of family members, friends and relatives dwindle, companionship becomes more of an invaluable asset then a basic need for the elderly. Nowadays, more children are living in different states or different countries, occupied with their careers and daily chores, leaving an empty nest which often leaves our parents alone to cater for themselves.
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, probably we should think again by looking at the importance of companionship for the elderly citizens.
Studies show that older adults who are lack of companionship and feeling lonely are at greater risk of physical functions, such as stroke, heart disease, poor immune functioning and high blood pressure, and degrading cognitive abilities, like 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 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 elderly as well as for the younger generations, the next question to ask would be how do we go about to cater some sort of companionship for them.For elders who are independent, they will usually like to meet another elderly person to reminisce about the ‘the good old days’, to share about their family’s problems, 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 comfortable zone at their own homes, caregivers are the ones who will be most suitable to accompany them. According to PILLAR, a Kuala Lumpur-based platform that specialises in elderly care, a certified, trained and professional caregiver must be trustworthy, has a clean criminal and service record, 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 eventually 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.
Our parents, and all elders for that matter, have done a lot for us without asking anything in return. As a filial member of the family, we see it befitting that we ensure there is sufficient companionship during our absences by providing the appropriate and legal set of people, company or environment to combat their old age blues.