Resource Center / Health and Lifestyle / How to be a Companion for the Elderly

How to be a Companion for the Elderly

Discover the best ways to become a companion to the elderly. Seniorly can help explain what a companion is and what a companion can do for seniors.

By Lydia Bruno · Updated Aug 08, 2022
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What is elderly companion care?

Senior citizen companionship is a unique form of long-term care, focused on providing the elderly with emotional support and friendship on a regular basis. This allows the senior to maintain their independence during everyday tasks and foster their own form of autonomy while still receiving some help.  Senior companions can be an attractive option for older adults who want or need some help around their own homes but still prefer not having 24/7 assistance from professionals.

It's popular among older adults to have an elderly companion because they want to age in place at home while remaining independent or socially active. It can also help them meet their daily needs for practical assistance like medication reminders or housekeeping services when a family member is not available. 

Loneliness is a danger to our health and well-being. Even healthy seniors can benefit from a companion. Family caregivers are an important part of a senior’s life, but when family members can’t be there the companions can provide company, social interaction, conversations, or activities that will help reduce feelings of isolation which in turn wards off depression and loneliness. Senior companions can be there to help and give family members peace of mind that their loved one is being cared for. 

Elderly companions are an important part of our society. They spend their days helping those who can't help themselves and provide emotional support, companionship, and help to improve the senior’s quality of life and connect the senior with the rest of society.

What types of companion care are available?

  • In-home companion care - Different companions may come in during different shifts allowing the senior to age in place. Services can be provided day or night 24 hours a day.
  • Live-in companion care - The companion for live-in care can allow for full-time one-on-one attention. This helps seniors age in place. Services can be provided day or night 24 hours a day.
  • Religious-based companion care - Companions can be found through various religious groups or religious communities. If a senior is part of a community they can begin to search there for companions.
  • Hospice companion care - Volunteers who drop by to provide companionship and a friendly face. Hospice typically provides volunteers to those seniors that are in need of comfort and care.

How companion care can help seniors 

A senior companion can provide several other services for seniors such as: 

  • Transportation. A senior companion can offer rides to doctor appointments, grocery shopping, run errands, and religious services just to name a few. These rides allow seniors to stay connected with their community as well as to shop and run the errands they need to have run.
  • Assistance with non-medical activities of daily living (ADLs). A senior companion can help with sitting, standing, laying down, or walking.
  • Help with hygiene. At times seniors may need help bathing and cleaning themselves. A companion can step in and give them the support they need.
  • Medication reminders.
  • Exercising and staying active.
  • Making appointments and providing correspondence.
  • Pet care.
  • Interacting with family members to ensure good communication.
  • Helping to plan social activities.
  • Watch entertainment, play games, and do fun activities.
  • Sorting mail and paying bills.
  • Scheduling and maintaining a calendar.
  • Meal preparation and cooking.
  • Grocery store shopping.
  • Light housekeeping and household tasks.
  • Friendship and companionship.

What are the requirements to become an elderly companion?

In order to become an elderly companion caregiver, you will at minimum need a high school diploma or equivalent. Training programs are offered by the Red Cross and other organizations. In order to be a companion to seniors, you need to study the basics of senior care and home care to fulfill the responsibilities of this job. Additional training can also be helpful such as CPR certification and basic first aid. 

A valid driver’s license and reliable transportation is also required as you may be taking your senior to and from appointments. 

If you have previous experience with working with seniors this is most helpful in becoming a companion. Working with the elderly can sometimes be a challenge so it is good to know how to work calmly and professionally with seniors.

Characteristics of an elderly companion caregiver

The job description of a senior companion starts with a very patient, kind person to be able to work with the elderly. You must be dependable and trustworthy with your care. Being a companion is a big responsibility that can’t be taken lightly. 

Having good communication skills will take you a long way in this role. Being able to understand the needs of the seniors and to be able to communicate back is a must.

A companion must also be capable of homemaker services. Most seniors will need help with day-to-day activities that include light housekeeping, home care services, and cleaning.   

Becoming a personal care assistant is a unique opportunity to help people and make their lives more fulfilling. The physical tasks that need completing vary depending on the job, but you should be able to lift up or assist clients so they can ambulate easily.

How to find an elderly companion care provider

If you're looking for a senior companion, there are many sources that offer them. Some of those options can be free depending on your needs and requirements. Start by defining what type of care will best suit your loved one’s current needs and situation. Matching your loved one with the perfect companion will be much easier with their needs taken into consideration. Then you can research whether there are any local organizations that will send volunteers to your loved one’s home to help them.

Home care companies are the best place to start looking for elderly companion care. Some companies are licensed and some are not. Investigate each company and do background checks on employees before you employ a companion. 

Some home care companies charge by the hour or by the visit. There are also some companies that have companions for free. You can find a compatible companion through:

  • Your local senior center.
  • Your church.
  • Companion care services such as Papa.  This senior companion program is an organization that matches up pals with seniors for assistance and companionship. Papa not only has an in-person companion program but also a virtual program by phone.
  • Community service organizations.
  • Americorps seniors volunteers. This nonprofit organization matches seniors with companions.
  • Senior Corps program.This organization is a network of federally-supported programs that helps people age 55 and older find service opportunities in their home communities. This includes becoming a volunteer or becoming a senior companion.
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written by:
Lydia Bruno

Lydia Bruno

Copywriter for Seniorly, with 5+ years experience in professional caregiving and senior housing
View other articles written by Lydia

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