Living alone is a reality for many seniors. For some, the isolation can lead to depression and increase the risk of dementia. Companion care provides seniors with a friend and companion to share activities, conversation, recreation, and other daily activities.
|More Assisted Living Resources|
Intro To All Forms Of Senior Living
What Is Assisted Living?
How to Select A Nursing Home
Is Home Care Right For Me?
Companion care can also provide a range of other duties and responsibilities that make the lives of seniors easier.
The Risks of Living Alone
- Seniors who live alone face double the risk of serious heart disease compared to those who live with a partner, said a Danish university study. Some of the risk factors included obesity, smoking, high cholesterol and fewer doctor visits.
- A London study of over 1,500 seniors found that those living alone were more likely have "poor vision, worse memory and mood, lower physical activity, poorer diet" and multiple falls.
- A University of Chicago study found that lonely people "report higher levels of perceived stress," have higher "levels of circulating stress hormones and levels of blood pressure," and "wake up more at night and spend less time in bed actually than do the non-lonely."
Most companion care agencies provide a range of services that start with basic companionship and include a variety of care and household assistance.
- Assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) including grooming, dressing/undressing, toileting, bathing, and eating
- Assistance with transportation to shopping, doctor's appointments, restaurants, and other activities
- Light house-keeping duties such as vacuuming, dusting, cleaning, etc.
- Meal preparation and cooking with the nutritional needs of the senior in mind
- Medication management or assisting with administering and refilling prescriptions
- Memory care for those with Alzheimer's/Dementia
- Sharing recreation including walks, hikes, tennis, swimming, strength training, and even physical therapy
- Assistance when there is a crisis
- Counseling and support
- Pet care including feeding, walking, clean up and Vet visits
- Act as a liaison with families who live away
- Organizational help
Most companion care is provided by private agencies listed under various services such as "home care", "hospice agencies", "senior in-home care", "living assistance services", "personal services", and "eldercare" in addition to companion care.
These companies are usually strictly regulated by the federal government because they provide certain levels of medical care.
Then there are non-licensed agencies that do not provide medical care.
Other providers include independent contractors who may or may not be licensed.
The national average for licensed companion care services is $18 an hour and most services require a 4-hour minimum, according to a Genworth Financial "Cost of Long-Term Care Survey."
This figure will vary depending on the services provided and the expertise of the caregiver. In general, the more hours a caregiver is needed, the lower per hour rate.
Medicare will not pay for companion care though some long-term care insurance will.
The benefits of companion care depend on the type of care you're receiving, how often and for how long. Take one activity: eating.
Eating. Eating alone often means we don't eat as well because we generally eat foods that are easier to prepare. These kinds of meals are usually not as healthy.
Eating less than nutritious meals can lead to all kinds of physical problems: weakened immune system, loss of muscle and bone health, weight loss (or gain), high cholesterol high blood pressure, the list goes on. In addition, can lead to or exacerbate depression.
Having a companion to prepare healthy meals and to share these meals with can reduce some of these complications, especially if it's consistent and regular.
Exercising. Do you exercise regularly now? If not, what if you had someone who would walk with you for 30 minutes or an hour each day—hold your feet to the fire? This service alone could reduce your risk for stroke, heart disease, kidney failure, dementia, and falls. A small price to pay for such big potential benefits.
As you search for companion care providers, make a list of questions/considerations that are important and relevant to your situation. Here are a few to get you started:
- To find providers, ask your hospital, doctor or friends for recommendations
- Is the agency one that your loved one can grow with as their needs dictates?
- Does the agency perform background checks on staff?
- Always meet with the potential caregiver first in the home where care will be given.
- Ask them about their care/companion philosophy
- Can they meet your loved one's specific needs (transportation, recreation, ADLs, etc.)?
- How is the caregiver supervised?
- Can the family be involved with the companion care?
- Will the companion be the same every time?
- What is the hourly rate and what does that include?
- What does the agency consider extras (cost)?
Search assistedseniorliving.net for the nearest companion care agency. More questions? Fill out the fields at the top for a prompt response from one of our staff.