As we age, circumstances that limit our ability to get together with friends, travel, or drive a car often results in losing touch. For many seniors, companionship care fills a gap created by growing older.
What is the role of a senior companion?
Companions help homebound adults by assisting with a range of activities such as shopping, chores, interacting with doctors, or just making a friendly visit.
These non-medical services help make a senior’s life more manageable. Senior companions are essential “eyes and ears” to family members and supporting agencies involved with the senior. Most importantly, they act as a friend who listens and cares.
Senior companions can offer assistance in various ways:
Light housekeeping and small repairs (fixing a light bulb)
Assist with pet care
Help write letters
Help fill out forms and applications
Find transportation to medical appointments
Help with planning and keeping appointments
Keep a watchful eye and assist with safety
Assist with daily routines such as getting out of bed and getting in and out of the car
Help pick out clothing
Contact with the outside world
Engage in meaningful conversation and reminiscence
Help with planning and transportation to social outings
Take incoming phone calls
Participate in recreational activities – playing cards, board games, scrapbooking
Take walks or exercise together
Interact with family members to keep them abreast of their loved one’s condition.
Be mindful that a senior companion is not meant to replace family, home health care workers, or maintenance professionals. Senior companions should not be used as emergency contacts, acting as a legal representative, or to borrow money.
Who provides companion services?
The Senior Companion Program, a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, brings together volunteers age 55 and over with adults in their community who have difficulty with the simple tasks of day-to-day living. Today, approximately 12,000 Senior Companions are serving 37,000 individuals in communities across the United States. Services are provided at no charge.
To read a real-life story about Roger Barth, who helps out and has become a friend, through this service, go to the AARP website, here.
Other ways to find a senior companion include:
Certified Home Care Agencies and Hospice Agencies provide senior companion services. These agencies are strictly regulated by the federal government.
Non-certified (and non-licensed) agencies provide nonmedical home services.
Independent contractors are self-employed and are hired directly by the family. These caregivers are usually not licensed.