Elder care companions can offer assistance to older individuals who still live independently, but may need some help in performing everyday tasks. Although elder care companions are considered to be a part of the healthcare industry, they are not necessarily responsible for any medical or clinical tasks with their patients. Some elder care companions may be licensed nurses, which mean that they can assist with therapy and medications, although this tends to fall into the category of home healthcare services.
One of the greatest health benefits that elder care companions do offer is in providing emotional, social, and mental support for patients. In many cases, this form of stimulation has shown highly positive results for people who are experiencing cognitive decline or depression. The presence of an elder care companion not only gives aid in accomplishing tangible tasks, but can also provide motivation and inspiration to remain involved and connected with daily living.
Elder care companions will be scheduled to make routine visits with their patient. This can range from once or twice a week to every day, depending upon the needs of the situation. By helping patients with a variety of activities, elder care companions are able to improve quality of life and maintain dignity for patients who wish to continue with independent living. Companions are also able to act as a mediator with family members, friends, and even other supporting health staff, in that they can voice patient concerns and also relay observations about the condition.
In most cases, elder care companions will fill a supportive role for household chores, personal tasks, and social considerations. This can include many of the following actions:
The amount of involvement that an elder care companion has can greatly depend upon the functionality of the patient. In many cases, simply having a companion present to monitor activities can be preventive for injuries and falls, and can also offer immediate access to medical care should an incident occur. Some of the greatest benefits of an elder care companion are in the realm of social engagement, as this provides the emotional care that can sometimes be lacking in situations of independent living.
The use of elder care companions is rapidly increasing, especially as a cost effective alternative to regular home medical care. This also means that there are a number of agencies and private service providers who can facilitate finding an appropriate elder care companion. A number of agencies will screen and provide volunteers for elder care companionship, and these services may be without charge. Healthcare social workers are often able to accommodate families who are searching for an elder care companion, and can set up a schedule for volunteers.
Along with volunteer groups, there are also federal programs for elder care companions and private groups that offer service. These may include a small fee, although government assistance agencies will often accept some form of insurance coverage.
Although a certified elder care companion can give families greater peace of mind, many non-certified companions can also be ideal. If the companion is an individual who is a close family friend, then the choice to use someone who is not licensed can be just as valid as seeking out a certified agency.
It should be understood that the use of elder care companions is a growing field in ancillary healthcare, and regulations to provide service can vary by state. Certified companions can find employment with municipal health departments and government agencies, and can also go through further educational requirements to specialize in specific conditions such as Alzheimer’s, dementias, and special needs. The choice of a licensed or non-licensed companion can also come down to the individual needs of the patient and the family. Overall, the greatest qualifications that should be sought in an elder care companion are compassion, sympathy, and the ability to engage the patient.