Sometimes, seniors need a little help. They might not need home care support for medical needs, but they could use someone to help them with their grocery shopping, meal planning and prep. They might need transportation so they can attend their appointments and get their errands done. And they might feel better if they had someone to talk to.
Companion care can fill those needs. A senior companion can step in when a senior doesn’t have family and friends close by, or when a partner who had helped with these tasks and activities has passed away.
What can a senior companion do?
Companions can step in anytime someone needs a little help. They can:
- Help with errands, transportation and light household tasks
- Accompany seniors to social functions or religious services
- Help seniors write letters or emails to stay in touch with family members
- Give seniors someone to talk to
“Loneliness and isolation have a direct correlation with quality of life,” said Dawn Gielau, director of the Banner Olive Branch Senior Center in Sun City, AZ. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, it comes with a 50% higher risk of premature death and can have the same health impact as smoking 15 cigarettes per day.
Companions can also stay in touch with a senior’s family members and let them know if they see any changes in their physical health or state of mind.
“If you have a loved one who has physical, emotional, or mental health limitations, a companion can provide support so they can maintain their dignity and independence within their own home,” said Gielau. “Companions can help them live a safer and more enjoyable life.”
Volunteer companions can help
You can hire a companion for your loved one, or you can connect with organizations that train volunteers to work with companions. Gielau suggests reaching out to:
- The AmericCorps Seniors Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP)
- RSVP programs in your area—search for it online and add your location
- Your local agency on aging
- Local community-based organizations—most are familiar with companion care and can connect you with an organization in your area
The bottom line
If you have a senior in your life who could use some help and company, a senior companion could help them maintain their independence and fight loneliness.
For more tips that can help the seniors in your life thrive, take a look at these articles:
- Caregiving for Your Kids and Parents—At the Same Time!
- 7 Ways to Care for Senior Loved Ones with Mental Illness
- Protecting Your Family Against Elder Care Abuse