The Benefits of Care Companions for Seniors Living Alone

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What is home companion care?

Home companion care is defined as a service that provides fellowship, emotional support, and socialization for older adults or people with disabilities who live alone. A companion offers company and may engage in activities with their client, such as having conversations, playing games, managing house chores, and providing transportation.[01]

“A care companion can provide the obvious daily assistance often needed by older adults, possibly preventing falls and other accidents,” says Carol Bradley Bursack, an experienced family caregiver and author of Minding Our Elders.

“Often overlooked, though, are the significant benefits of socialization. Having a companion to interact with can benefit an elder’s mental and emotional health by decreasing depression brought on by loneliness. Additionally, socialization is one of the key aspects of preserving cognitive function.”

 

Home care companion services

Home care companions tailor services to meet each client’s needs and preferences. These often include the following tasks or activities:[01]

  • Playing games or engaging in other hobbies
  • Having conversations regularly
  • Assisting with exercise, such as walks or classes
  • Running errands, like picking up groceries
  • Driving to doctor’s appointments or events
  • Providing light cleaning and meals

Comparing in-home companion care to other types of home care

In-home companion care is an important part of a senior’s care. A home care companion supports an independent senior’s mental health and overall well-being. This differs slightly from personal home care, which focuses on assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), and home health care, where a medical professional supports a senior’s health care needs.

Personal home care

Personal home care focuses on providing nonmedical services. Home care aides assist seniors with bathing, dressing, eating, and mobility. There is some crossover with personal home care and companion home care. For example, both personal care aides and home care companions may provide assistance with cleaning, cooking, and errands.

Home health care

Home health care is different from home care and companion home care because it includes medical services for a senior in their home. Home health care is typically prescribed by a doctor after a hospital stay due to an injury or illness. These services are provided by a licensed medical professional, such as a registered nurse, occupational therapist, or physical therapist.

Examples of home health services include:[02]

  • Skilled nursing care
  • Physical therapy
  • Wound care
  • Medication administration, such as injections

 

The cost of in-home companion care and how to pay

In-home companion care costs vary by state, but the national median is $30 per hour.[03]

Most families pay for home care out of pocket, but Medicaid may pay for some care services for eligible seniors. Medicare covers temporary home health care to assist with recovery from an injury or illness. However, Medicare does not typically pay for a home care companion unless it’s part of a physician-directed home health care plan.[02]

When to consider a home care companion

A home care companion may be beneficial for seniors who live alone, no longer drive, or don’t live near family and may be isolated.

Studies have shown that social isolation in seniors can lead to unhealthy habits, stress, and an increased risk of developing health conditions.[04] It may be time to consider home care for your loved one if you’re concerned and have noticed the following changes in their appearance or behavior:[05]

  • Declining hygiene practices
  • Increased alcohol consumption
  • Inability to cook or eat healthy meals
  • Depression
  • Avoidance of social activities
  • Loss of interest in favorite hobbies
  • Inability to clean or maintain their home

Where to find home companion care

Many families hire a home care companion through a home care agency or find a private caregiver through a referral service or personal recommendation. There are also local and national organizations that offer companionship programs for seniors. For example, over 90% of community Meals on Wheels programs also offer companionship opportunities.[06]

Many communities also have programs sponsored by local churches, universities, and senior centers that aim to promote social connection among seniors. Some city and state governments may offer companionship programs through offices, such as the department of aging, health services department, or senior services department.

This article originally appeared on APlaceForMom and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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