The importance of companionship for the elderly

“No man is an island”. As one gets older and the number of family members, friends and relatives dwindle, companionship becomes more of an invaluable asset than simply a basic need for the elderly.

Nowadays, more children are living in different states or different countries, wrapped up in their careers, families, and daily chores, leaving behind an empty nest where parents have to fend for themselves.

Studies show that older adults who lack companionship and feel lonely are at greater risk of developing diseases or experiencing medical incidents such as stroke, heart disease, poor immune functioning, high blood pressure, and degrading cognitive abilities such as memory loss.

If you think social media and smart gadgets can replace companionship for old folks, you couldn’t be more wrong. Skype and FaceTime do not come close to real time spent physically in the same room with a lonely, elderly person.

In fact, there is also evidence that people displaying signs of loneliness could be at risk of death or suicide.

Companionship is fundamentally essential for the elderly to prevent anxiety or depression. It also helps fill their days with cheer, as well as maintain and preserve their cognitive abilities.

Now that we know that companionship is equally important for the elderly as well as for the younger generations, the next question would be how to go about finding the best companionship for them.

Sources of companionship

For senior citizens who are independent, meeting up with other elderly persons to reminisce about “the good old days” can make a world of difference to their physical and mental wellbeing.

Sharing family problems, trading gossip, playing a game of chess or just meeting to “yum cha” for a few hours gives them a sense of purpose and camaraderie.

For senior citizens who are less independent, and are in nursing homes or in their own homes, caregivers are the most suitable to keep them company and care for them on a daily basis.

According to Pillar, a Kuala Lumpur-based platform that specialises in elderly care, a certified, trained and professional caregiver must be trustworthy, have a clean criminal and service record, be 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 essential for the elderly person. Even spending one to two hours strolling, enjoying a cup of tea, buying medicine or simply chatting, can brighten the day of an elderly person considerably.

Few people know that there are caregivers – in between a maid and a nurse – who are trained to come to your home and care for an elderly family member in the comfort of their own home, whether for a few hours, all day or every day. They can even stay in your home and look after an elderly family member if needed.

Trained caregivers

Our parents, and all the elderly really, have done a lot for us without asking for much in return.

As important members of the family, we ought to ensure there is sufficient companionship and care for them during our periods of absence.

We can do this by providing appropriate and trained caregivers, not maids, to help our elders better enjoy their “golden years”.

This article was written by Andrew Mastrandonas, Co-founder & CEO of Pillar ( and reviewed by Dr Lim Geng Yan (M.D). Pillar provides a range of elderly home caregiving services, sending trained and certified professional caregivers and nurses to clients’ homes. For more information please visit

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