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Companion Care

Ken Teegardin Written by Ken Teegardin
SeniorLiving.Org Expert on Chief Editor | Caregiver

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.

Companion Care

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 assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Companion care also falls under the titles personal care assistants” and homemaker services.”

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.

Want to know other ways you can keep your brain sharp? Read our article Sudoku and Crossword Puzzles.”

Other services include:

  • Medication reminders
  • Assistance with daily routines such as getting out of bed and getting in and out of the car.
  • Performing light housekeeping duties
  • Preparing and cooking meals
  • Transportation assistance to the grocery store, doctor's appointments, and errands.
  • Help with planning, scheduling and keeping appointments.
  • Encouraging and planning social activities. This can include local sightseeing trips, movies, shopping, visits to family and friends, and anything that keeps the client busy and enjoying life.
  • Exercising to keep a healthy body, mind and spirit. This can include walks in the neighborhood, swimming at the local pool, and anything that keeps them active.
  • Entertaining with hobbies, games, etc.
  • Interacting with family members to keep them abreast of their loved one's condition.
  • Some providers may have dementia care training and experience to help those seniors who are showing signs of the disease.

Who Provides Companion Services?

  • Certified Home Care Agencies and Hospice Agencies provide medical and nonmedical 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.

Choosing Companion Care Services
As you begin to narrow down your choice of companion care providers, consider these questions.

  • Does the agency offer additional services like home health if my loved one's condition dictates?
  • Is the agency recommended by a hospital, social worker, doctor or similar professional?
  • Does the agency perform background checks on the staff?
  • Does the employee have professional recommendations they can provide?
  • Does the employee have any special certifications or skills (e.g. dementia care, nutrition, etc.)?
  • Does the agency provide free in-home safety evaluations?
  • Does the agency provide 24-hour/7 days a week service?
  • How does the agency supervise the caregiver?
  • How the agency develops the client's care plan?
  • Is family involved with the care process?
  • Is the client involved with their care process and plan?
  • If the caregiver is unable to work on a given day, who is their replacement? How much notice are you given?
  • Will the caregiver be the same person every time?
  • What is the average time a caregiver stays with the agency?
  • What are the payment options? Is there a payment plan?
  • Are there additional fees, deposits, etc. not included in the quoted cost?
  • Do holidays and weekends cost extra?

Companion Care Costs
Costs will vary according to the level of care provided and the training of the caregiver. Other factors may include the local market and reputation of the provider.

According to a Genworth Financial Cost of Care Survey, the national average for licensed companion care services is $18 an hour and most services require a 4 hour minimum.

The study defines this care as "Homemaker Services, which is a service makes it possible for people to live in their own homes or to return to their homes by helping complete household tasks that they can't manage alone. Homemaker services aides may clean houses, cook meals or run errands.”

Medicare does not pay for companion care. Most recipients of companion care or their families pay using their own money. Some long-term care (LTC) insurance may cover companion care services.

In addition, some states offer a home allowance based on the financial needs of their residents. Your Area Agency on Aging  is a good starting point to find out what's out there where you live.

Summary

Companion care can enable seniors to remain more independent and keep them from going to that next more costly step: assisted living or a nursing home facility. Is companion care right for your loved one? Find out by reading Why And When To Use Home Care For Seniors”. For seniors that need a higher level of care, read our articles on:

  • Congregational Living
  • Active Senior Living
  • 55 Plus Communities
  • Independent Living

Regardless of what type of care you need, our senior care directory can help you find the best option.

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