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What Is Companion Care for Seniors?

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    What is companion care for seniors, and do your aging loved ones need it? While AARP surveys state that 90% of retirees prefer to age in place, note that seniors also require ongoing support. Older adults with limited mobility and dexterity can no longer perform daily household tasks like grocery shopping, meal preparation, and light housekeeping duties by themselves.

    Although, many seniors tend to reject help from their family and friends. Nobody wants to feel like a burden. Now, if your senior loved one needs daily assistance but does not want to rely on their families for help, you can sign them up for home care services. A professional companion can help your relative maintain a good quality of life as they age.

    What Does Companion Care Mean?

    Companion care has an all-encompassing coverage available to most older adults. They primarily include individualized, personal care programs focused on housekeeping, hygiene, and academic needs. You can ask your assistant to cook for you, give you glasses of water, or even play activities with you to pass the time.

    What Is the Difference Between a Companion and a Caregiver?

    Both caregivers and companions provide at-home assistance. However, the latter does not undergo formal education, so they cannot personally care for patients with specific illnesses or diseases. In most cases, they can only administer emergency treatments.

    Most agencies require companion care specialists to have the following requirements:

    • High school diploma (or higher)
    • Clean, updated driver's license
    • Fluency in the client's native language
    • First-aid emergency training

    For those who have specific diseases or complications, ask your family physician for recommendations. They could connect you to the best personal care service providers based on your condition.

    What Are the Duties of a Companion?

    Companions assist seniors and patients with standard housekeeping and personal care needs. However, since they did not undergo specialized training, we strongly discourage relying on them for serious consultations and checkups. You will still need a medical professional.

    Generally, you can rely on companions to:

    • Take on basic housekeeping activities such as washing the dishes, sweeping the floors, grocery shopping, doing the laundry
    • Accompanying clients to various destinations and locations (e.g., clinic, postal office, library)
    • Resolving minor requests like reaching for a glass of water, organizing bills and rent, or even reaching out to old friends
    • Provide casual, informal emotional support during high-stress moments

    Why Is Home Care Better Than a Nursing Home?

    Do you find yourself on the fence between nursing homes and companion care? Understanding the different features, benefits, and advantages should help you and your aging relative reach a grounded decision.

    Home care services hold several advantages over senior care facilities, including:

    Independence

    Contrary to popular belief, retirees fear the loss of independence more than they fear death. Sadly, many older adults feel that retiring in nursing homes strips them of their privacy and independence.

    Convenience

    Individualized care boosts comfort and security. With a care companion around, your senior loved one can delegate tasks and activities like going to the grocery store, setting medication reminders, and light housekeeping. You shouldn't force older adults to keep moving around.

    Personalized Care

    Your loved one would benefit best from personalized, one-on-one companion care services rather than the generic, cookie-cutter programs that nursing homes offer. For example, let's say your relative suffers from memory loss. Exclusive companions who provide specialized dementia care would serve the patient better than a team of randomized caregivers.

    Plus, live-in companion care professionals can wholly understand your relative's specific preferences. Remember: seniors generally have limited patience, so you need calm caregivers who can remain composed and even-tempered in challenging, demanding situations.

    Cost-Efficiency

    Home care services often provide better value than nursing homes. Nursing homes have all-in-one packages, but most older adults in these facilities can no longer maximize the in-house facilities. As a result, you'll end up paying for amenities your loved one does not even need. With caregivers, on the other hand, you only pay for the exact services your relative needs.

    How Much Should You Pay a Companion?

    Senior companion care service providers often charge between $10 to $20 per hour. Personal care companions hired through agencies and firms generally charge premium fees, while individuals whom you sourced yourself might have less expensive rates.

    Although, we strongly discourage blindly going for the cheaper option. Keep in mind that your loved one will likely need their senior companion for the rest of their life, so try to prioritize quality and reliability over affordability.

    When Should You Start Looking For Companion Care?

    You can start looking for senior companion care any time your relative wants. Remember that these versatile professionals offer care services to a wide range of clients, from mobility-impaired seniors to disabled younger or older adults.

    Senior Strong shares that older adults who live alone should take preventive measures to reduce the risk of fatal injuries and attacks. Check out our guide on using medical alert systems for emergency assistance.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Who qualifies as a caregiver?

    A caregiver is someone aged 18 or over who provides care for another. They may be responsible for the direct care, protection and supervision of children in a childcare home or tend to the needs of elderly people or disabled individuals.

    Does insurance pay for companion care?

    Individuals with long-term care insurance can use benefits to pay for home care. For those without long-term care (LTC) coverage who need the services, they typically are not eligible to purchase an insurance plan or if permitted, it would be too expensive due to premiums.

    Does Medicare pay for companion care?

    Medicare will not cover the costs for instances where a family member only needs assistance with homemaker, companion care, or personal services.

    How do you become a paid companion for the elderly?

    In order to become an elderly companion, you will need a high school diploma or equivalent. Most companies require that the applicant participate in their own training program and be CPR certified before they can take on this role.

    How many hours should a live-in caregiver work?

    The term "live-in" is often used to refer to a person who provides caregiving services during the day and sleeps at their client's home. The caregiver works between four and five days each week, providing 24-hour care during this time, and is given an 8-hour period to sleep at night.

    No two seniors share the exact home care service needs, so take your time in choosing between companion caregivers. Do not blindly hire home health aides your friends or family endorse. Overall, you need a reliable, highly trained companion caregiver who will go above and beyond to ensure the safety and well-being of your senior loved one.

    Also, do extensive background checks on your prospective caregiver to weed out suspicious individuals. Some crooks operate under the guise of a home care companion. As an added precaution, you can even install CCTV cameras inside your senior loved one's home. That way, you can monitor your personal care companion at any time.

    Senior Strong emphasizes that there are several ways to enjoy your retirement years. You shouldn't limit yourself to one or two choices. Check out the best retirement plans for seniors.

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    After years of living under the care of your parents and other family members, the time will arrive for you to reciprocate. At Senior Strong, you can show your loved ones just how much you value them.
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