What Is Companion Care?

In this article...
  • Learn about companion care, what’s included, how this essential service can improve a loved one’s health outcomes and where to find suitable care.

More than a quarter of Americans aged 65 or over live alone, and this percentage increases as people age. For example, 42% of women aged 75 and above live on their own. 

Older people are more likely to live alone in the United States than anywhere else in the world, leaving them vulnerable to depression, social isolation and cognitive decline. 

However, companion care can help ease this mental and physical burden. Companion care means the delivery of non-medical services for seniors and people with disabilities in their own homes.  

What Is Included in Companion Care Services?

Companion care services vary depending on each client’s wants and needs. All companion caregivers provide company for their clients, and they may also deliver the following services:

  • Light housekeeping, such as tidying up, washing and ironing clothes, cleaning dishes and preparing meals
  • Encouraging gentle exercise by going on walks with clients
  • Running errands, such as grocery shopping or filling medication prescriptions
  • Planning, scheduling and providing transport for social activities and essential appointments
  • Updating family members and health professionals on client progress

What Is the Difference Between Companion Care and Personal Care?

Companion care focuses on company and emotional support, rather than physical support as personal care does. 

People offering personal care are called personal care aides or home health aides, also provide companionship and additional hands-on health services. 

Depending on state regulations, these extra services may include:

  • Helping people with mobility issues bathe, dress and use the toilet
  • Monitoring vital signs, including temperature and blood pressure
  • Ensuring people take the correct medication on time
  • Changing colostomy and catheter bags

What Is the Difference Between a Companion and a Caregiver?

A companion spends quality time developing a relationship with an individual, while a caregiver provides personal care. A companionship relationship aims to help combat loneliness and isolation long term.

As caregivers provide health services, they need formal training. Many caregivers are Certified Nursing Assistants or Home Health Aides. These qualifications are optional for companions.

Why Get Companion Care?

Companion care has many benefits for seniors and people with disabilities. People who see companions have:

  • Better health outcomes: People with companion care have better mental and physical health, including improved cognitive function and mobility.

  • Improved quality of life: People with companion care are less socially isolated, more excited about life, and better able to carry on conversations.

  • Reduced household burden: Companion care can take care of tasks that older people may find difficult, such as preparing meals and vacuuming.

  • Reduced obligations for the family: Busy family members enjoy peace of mind knowing their loved one has regular social interaction and someone to help at home.

  • Chance of living at home longer: People may delay entering a nursing home with someone else managing challenging household tasks and providing transport to essential appointments.

How Does Companion Care Work in Different Settings?

A companion makes regular visits to clients living in their own homes or aged care facilities. They usually attend at least once a week but may visit more often, depending on the client’s needs. 

Companions have flexible schedules, which they may alter to suit their client’s commitments. For example, if a client needs them for transport to an appointment, they may bring their scheduled meeting forward.

While companions usually help clients living in their own homes, they may also see clients in nursing homes. These people don’t need help with household duties, as the nursing home provides their meals and launders their clothes. However, they may benefit from the social aspect of companion care, especially if their family is busy or far away. Having a senior companion who visits regularly and interacts with them can be valuable for aged care residents.

How Do You Get Companion Care?

Companion care can be a formal program or a more informal arrangement. For example, you might organize for a friend or family member to visit regularly and offer companion care. You could also use the companion care services of a local business or independent contractor. 

Your nearest Area Agency on Aging can connect you with reputable companion care providers in your local area. If you receive help from a home care agency or hospice, they can also point you towards good companion care.

How Much Do You Pay a Companion?

The national average price for companion care is $147 per day or $4,481 per month. Costs vary depending on several factors, including:

  • The companion care provider
  • The provider’s location
  • The number of hours the companion works
  • The services the companion provides

Why Companion Care?

If you or an aging loved one needs a little extra help to stay independent at home or in good spirits, companion care could be the answer. This type of care has many benefits for the mental and physical well-being of seniors and people with disabilities. 

With companion care available through formal and informal channels, it’s easy to get started organizing these home care services.

About the Author

Zia Sherrell is a digital health journalist with over a decade of healthcare experience, a bachelor’s degree in science from the University of Leeds and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Manchester. Her work has appeared in Netdoctor, Medical News Today, Healthline, Business Insider, Cosmopolitan, Yahoo, Harper's Bazaar, Men's Health and more.

When she’s not typing madly, Zia enjoys traveling and chasing after her dogs.

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