Companion care is primarily emotional support and companionship for seniors who are generally healthy and who want to remain independent at home. However, it can also include a range of non-medical services that help make a senior’s life more manageable. These services can include light housekeeping, assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), medication reminders and more. Though companion care focuses on those seniors in their homes, it can be provided to those in nursing homes and assisted senior living facilities. Companion care also falls under the titles of personal care assistants and homemaker services.
What is Companion Care?
The role of companion care changes based on seniors and their needs. It is a service that can be applied at home, home hospice, or in an assisted living situations. In general terms, companion care spans both the social and physical care of a senior or couple. The goal of companion care as a service is to:
Provide emotional support
Improve the quality of life of the senior
Provide companionship for the senior
Companion care can also include physical care such as grocery shopping, house cleaning, and chores that support or that maintain the independence of a senior or couple. Companion care should enable the senior to enjoy life.
Who Are Senior Companions
Senior companions are people, some of whom are paid and some are volunteers, who provide a needed and consistent presence in a senior’s life. The role of a senior companion is to maintain the link between the senior and the rest of society. They work in such a way as to provide emotional companionship and in some cases, they provide physical care while lifting the burdens that come with getting older, loss of mobility, and mental decline. Senior companions need not be medically trained or certified and their role can be as simple as taking a senior grocery shopping or to a doctor’s appointment. It can also be simply sitting down with a senior on a regular basis and enjoying a conversation.
What are the Benefits of Senior Companionship?
The biggest benefit of senior companionship is that it improves the quality of life of seniors. Companionship goes beyond just caregiving and is a symbiotic relationship that enables the senior to thrive. On a social level having friends and companions enables people to talk about challenges, express grief, and to find resources to solve problems. On a personal level, a quality companion is someone that the senior not only looks forward to visiting with, doing things with but also is someone on which they can rely. Older people worry about many of their challenges that you and I might be very small such as going to the grocery store or transportation to and from doctors’ appointments. Companionship helps to remove the worry and burden so that seniors can focus on living a quality life.
What Types of Companion Care are There?
Live-in companion care – Live-in companion care is usually provided by a home care service. It involves 24-hour shifts by one or more person. This type of service is ideal for keeping a senior in their home as long as possible and usually involves many types of services from meal preparation and house cleaning to grooming, bathing, and transportation to appointments.
In-home companion care – This type of service typically involves shorter visits with specific goals such as meal prep, assistance with bathing, or transportation to an appointment or for grocery shopping. There are also well-person checks that occur when friends, family, or other members of the community stop in on a regular basis. Such support can come from a local church, neighbors, or from a paid service.
Companion hospice care – Hospice provides companion care through a variety of means. A hospice has volunteers who stop by to visit and to help. A hospice volunteer might run errands for the senior or help them to appointments. Hospice also provides Home Health Aids for personal needs and respite visits. Hospice is a dynamic organization and other senior companions include social workers, clergy, and nurses.
Religious-based companion care, which is often available through many religious groups such as Christian companion care, Catholic companion care, etc. If the senior has been part of a religious community, begin the search within that group. Familiar faces make great companions. If not, most religious groups are happy to help and many non-denominational religious groups are available too.
Companion Care Services
At its core, companion care is just as the name implies—companionship and someone to share experiences and personal stories with. This personal link can be crucial for seniors who live alone and may be isolated from others.
Seniors who engage in conversation and play games (bridge, scrabble, etc.) with a companion are keeping an edge on their mental acuity. Studies show that these kinds of stimulation can help delay the effects of dementia or Alzheimers.