There are many reasons why seniors get lonely – friends move or pass away, physical problems make it difficult for them to attend activities, and retirement means that they are no longer meeting people at work. Making new friends at an advanced age can be difficult, but it’s especially important for a person’s health and well-being.
Caregivers Can Help Combat Senior Loneliness
“It’s tough for the elderly, because as we age, our community involvement decreases,” explained Joe Martin, co-founder of Allegiance Home Health & Rehab with his wife, Rosie Inguanzo-Martin. “It’s just not as easy to take part in social activities.”
Loneliness even affects seniors who have family nearby, or who live with sons or daughters. “Families these days are so busy – the adults are both working to support the family, and then they come home to face homework, dinner, sports and more,” said Rosie Inguanzo-Martin. “Even seniors who live with their children are home alone from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. while their kids are at work; and the days of sitting down at the dinner table and engaging in conversation are gone. They may feel extremely lonely, even around their own families.”
Loneliness leads to depression, and studies have shown that there is a very high rate of behavioral depression among seniors. “This number is actually even higher than studies show because elderly men do not seek help as often as females do. There is a lot of underlying depression going on, but they don’t want to bring attention to it,” said Joe Martin.
One solution to this problem is to match seniors with caregivers who can provide them with the socialization they need. “Most people only think of the physical aspect of caregiving – helping seniors with chores, errands, medication and self-hygiene, but they also provide emotional and social support,” said Rosie Inguanzo-Martin. “They can fill a void in seniors’ lives, whether by giving them someone to talk to, going with them on walks or to activities, watching TV with them or playing cards; whatever they want to do.”
The reason that Allegiance is so successful in this area is because they take the time to do an in-depth profile of each client during his or her assessment. “A registered nurse does the initial assessment, and while there is a huge medical part, we also focus on hobbies, interests and work history,” said Joe Martin. “It’s one of the most vital parts of what we do.”
Prospective employees are also asked for this same information so that Allegiance can match caregivers with clients who have similar interests. “For example, we had military veteran whose wife was one of the first female pilots in WWII,” said Joe Martin. “After she passed, he needed a caregiver, and we matched him with an Iraq War veteran who had started a foundation to help troubled youth. It was perfect!”
All employees go through multiple levels of interviews and tests before being hired, and also submit to a Level Two background check through the FBI database to ensure clients’ safety.