GUEST BLOG: Lindsey Nathan, founder of local service Close to Hand, explores the importance of community and companionship as we age
Why companionship matters as we age
HUMANS are social animals and we need companionship throughout our lives. Irrespective of whether you’re a teenager, hitting your middle years or approaching old age the basic need is the same. At each life stage having a social network of people around us makes life easier.
These connections change over time, however, and older people often find their social circle shrinking. The harsh reality is that as people grow older, they begin to lose more of their friends, family and neighbours, and maybe their spouse or partner. These losses inevitably reduce opportunities to interact with people on a daily basis.
An older person’s ability to forge new connections may also be limited by circumstances beyond their control, such as reduced mobility. This is compounded by the fact that most families lead busy lives, torn between numerous responsibilities, and with many family members living long distances away they can’t always be there to help loved ones get around and mix.
Consequently, according to Age UK, almost a million older people in the UK go for more than a month without speaking to anyone and 1.9 million older people say they often feel ignored or invisible.
Friendly conversation is energising
Loneliness is a silent killer, but there are ways to stop it creeping in. This is where having a Home Helper to provide vital companionship can make all the difference. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that having support is something only to consider when you’re growing infirm. Having a familiar friendly face popping in on a regular basis can raise your spirits and give added health benefits by keeping you engaged and active.
Home Helpers can offer friendship and support with tasks that can build up and become increasingly tricky to do on your own, like housework, shopping and chores. It’s the social aspect of helping with these jobs that can offer a lifeline as there’s somebody there to have a chat to at home or out-and-about, share the small stuff with and a cup of tea. Just having someone to talk to about day-to-day things, the latest news, reminiscing about the past, or discussing films and books can be hugely comforting.
Improved quality of life
Ultimately, most of us want to get the most out of life for all of our life. Having someone to share your interests with can be revitalising – whether that’s going out in the fresh air to walk the dog, getting back in the kitchen to revisit an old favoured baking recipe, playing a game of cards or going out to the cinema, a Home Helper can be there to support you.
Spending time with someone who is there just for you can put a spring back in your step and reduce concerns of being a burden on your family. After all, the dynamic between parent and child is perhaps not one of simple friendship, but a Home Helper can offer just that.
It’s all about choice
Just as we choose our friends, perhaps the most important aspect of selecting the right Home Helper for you is personality and shared interests; be sure to include your hobbies and what you love doing most in life, if you post a job on Close to Hand. Care agencies, which many people still assume are their only option, rarely enable you to choose your own carer.
Close to Hand is not a care agency and our approach is completely different – the choice is entirely in your hands as what we offer is a platform for you to connect with local people who can lend a hand. Home Helpers can act as a valuable link to the outside world and enable your continued enjoyment in the things in life important to you.