Every year in the U.S., millions of people provide emotional support and daily living assistance to aging in place elderly loved ones. Those companion caregivers are spouses, adult children, friends, neighbors or even grandchildren, and most also hold down at least a part-time job and manage a household. And although providing senior companionship can be time consuming, tiring and stressful, it can also be highly rewarding and gratifying. In fact, there are several reasons why being a care companion ultimately benefits your health, starting with these.
How Being a Care Companion Benefits You
According to an article posted on the American Psychological Association’s website, over 80% of all family caregivers view their experiences as being positive overall. If you have recently been placed in the role of a care companion due to an aging loved one’s declining health, here are some of the ways assisting them may also benefit you as the process moves forward:
Sense of Purpose
Caring for someone else makes a person feel appreciated, which leads to personal validation in a way that their “day” job doesn’t normally provide. Because most people have an inherent desire to feel needed, serving as a care companion provides them with the opportunity to experience a greater sense of purpose in their life.
Strengthens Personal Relationships
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, the average informal caregiver spends over 24 hours per week in their care recipient’s home. Spending more quality time together with your loved one gives you the opportunity to talk intimately and candidly, including resolving issues from the past that ultimately repair relationships. When an aging parent needs care it can also help siblings heal old childhood emotional wounds as they come together for mom or dad.
Self-Reflection and Future Growth
When you are providing emotional support to someone who’s close to death, it’s natural to start reflecting-back on your own life and contemplate what you value most. Those self-reflections could be related to religious beliefs and what happens after you die, or how to prioritize relationships and responsibilities in your life moving forward. Caring for another adult can also be very physically and emotionally challenging, which ultimately shows many caregivers that they are a lot stronger than they thought.
Sense of Accomplishment
Working through challenges and obstacles on days when you’d just like to get some sleep can be very stressful, but overcoming the difficult times that accompany caregiving can feel very invigorating and rewarding. As you see that your efforts are bringing joy to another human being it builds a sense of accomplishment that you will continue to remember long after they pass away.
When you start to believe that your caregiving efforts are making a noticeable difference in the life of someone you love, it makes you feel good too. This newfound personal satisfaction will continue building day by day as you provide the essential physical and emotional support that your loved one needs, especially when they’ve nurtured you in the past.
Health Tips for Care Companions
The Family Caregiver Alliance also points out that the average care companion will spend 3 years or more taking care of an aging senior. Caregiver fatigue is common, which means you should take these health precautions to prevent it from affecting you:
- Exercise regularly
- Spend quality time with your spouse and children
- Get an annual physical at your doctor’s office
- Don’t abuse alcohol or drugs
- Sleep 7 to 8 hours every day
- Eat nutritious foods
- Join a caregiver support group
- Find a respite companion caregiver to temporarily fill in when you need time off
Reliable In-Home Companion Care for Massachusetts Seniors
Being a care companion for an aging in place senior is highly rewarding, but it can also be stressful and exhausting. When you need a break, contact Family Services of Central Massachusetts. As a fully licensed and insured home care agency, our professional companion caregivers are passionate about nurturing seniors so they can keep aging comfortably in place right where they want to be.
Our in-home senior companion care services include emotional support and daily living assistance for meals, light housekeeping, personal care, running errands and escorted transportation. As an independence-focused, cost-effective alternative to assisted living, the FSCM family is here to help yours while using a proven process that’s backed by attention to detail and expertise. To learn more about Family Services of Central Massachusetts now, please visit us at: www.fscm.org!