While we may want to be there for an elderly parent, sometimes it’s just not possible. Life gets in the way, and we end up spending our time caring for kids or focusing a career. Family members oftentimes live far away, which makes caregiving on a regular basis impossible. 

Because of this, family members may opt for companion care. Companion care is different from in-home caregiving. In-home caregivers focus on providing medical care for their patients. Companion caregivers, on the other hand, focus more on providing social support.

Older woman and caregiver walking

Companion caregivers are there to help your loved one. They can take your loved one to social events around town and coordinate visits with friends. Caregivers can run errands and take seniors to doctor appointments, grocery stores and other places. They can also do things around the house like gardening, housework and small projects. They can also participate in activities that the senior enjoys, like scrapbooking, photography, puzzles, cards, watching TV and listening to music.

However, companion caregivers typically don’t have a medical background. They may be CPR certified and know how to take blood pressure. Beyond that, they’re available primarily for socializing.

Elderly people often get lonely and this can lead to depression and other health issues. By having someone to visit with your loved one when you can’t be there, everyone wins. You get peace of mind, your loved one gets someone to talk to and the caregiver gets a rewarding position.

Finding a Companion Caregiver

Before looking for a companion caregiver, it’s a good idea to first make a list of traits you are looking for, as well as a job description. Think about all the things that a qualified caregiver would need to do, like give your loved one medications, provide entertainment, provide transportation to doctor appointments, accompany him or her to social events and prepare certain foods.

You definitely want to find someone who is outgoing and enjoys being with seniors. The right person should be able to work without supervision, follow instructions and be dependable. Patience, empathy and kindness are also must-have traits for a senior companion caregiver.

Older man and home care assistant on park bench

The Interview

Once you have some applicants, look through resumes and choose several that best fit your needs. You can then interview them to learn more about their background and experiences. You can even have them meet with your loved one and spend some time with him or her to see if they would be a good fit.

When interviewing the applicants, you can ask about their experiences with seniors and how they handle stress. Ask why they are interested in the job and get references. You may also want to know what tasks they are comfortable doing. If you’re looking for someone to primarily cook meals and provide transportation, yet the applicant doesn’t have a car and can’t cook, then you’ll be in for a major disappointment.

You may also want to ask applicants about their medical background. If your loved one has a chronic condition, you’ll want to choose someone who can help your loved one in the event of an emergency.

Senior caregiver playing chess with older man

Throughout the interview, you should get a feel for the person’s communication skills. This is essential, since the person is being hired to socialize with your family member. If he or she seems shy or nervous and doesn’t seem to connect with your loved one, then it may not be a good fit. You’ll want to choose someone who feels comfortable and is able to take the lead in engaging your senior.

Finding the right person to serve as your loved one’s companion caregiver is very important. This is not a decision to be taken lightly. You are entrusting this person with the care of your family member. The right companion caregiver will connect with your loved one and eventually become part of the family.

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