Updated February 6, 2023 – Aging is a part of life. However, there is a shortage of personal caregivers, so there’s an opportunity for you to make money with this job. Not to mention, becoming a companion for the elderly is an honorable and rewarding profession.
To become a companion for the elderly, you typically need a high school diploma or equivalent. Some institutions may require you to complete formal training through a caregiver training program, although some offer on the job training. You’ll also need to pass certain background checks.
It’s never too late to start a new career or change paths in your current one.
If you want to become a companion for the elderly, then this blog post is for you. We’ve got some great tips on how you can get started and increase your chances of success.
What Is A Companion For The Elderly?
The goal of companion care for the elderly is to provide personal, social and emotional support for an older person.
Companionship is vital to the health and well-being of senior citizens who can experience social isolation due to loss of mobility.
Without social interaction, quality of life can suffer, leading to feelings of loneliness and higher rates of depression which can affect the elder’s physical health as much as their mental health.
Senior companions take care of a range of essential daily tasks and activities that an elderly person may find challenging to perform independently. For example, they may help with light housekeeping like laundry or meal preparation.
They may help the senior run errands, go to the grocery store, help with pet care or provide transportation. Companions can also provide support with grooming, dressing or bathing.
A companion for the elderly does not perform medical tasks that would require licensure in some states or certifications like CPR training.
For example, companions can help with medication reminders, but they do not typically administer medications to an older adult unless they are a family member who has received proper instruction on how to go about it.
What Is The Difference Between A Companion And A Caregiver?
The terms companion and caregiver are often used interchangeably nowadays. But there is a significant difference between these two titles, especially regarding employment opportunities and the type of care involved.
A companion aide may have other duties, like basic housekeeping or grocery shopping, but companion care focuses mostly on spending time with older adults who need support in their own homes.
On the other hand, a caregiver’s job mainly involves the responsibilities a companion has plus additional medical home care services, such as:
- Administering medication
- Providing personal care like bathing, dressing taking care of their skin and hair
- Assisting with wheelchairs
- Help with toileting
- Changing catheters and colostomy bags
- Basic medical services, like measuring temperature, respiration, blood pressure, pulse, intake, and fluid output.
Another difference is that, to be a professional caregiver with an agency, completion of a caregiver training program is required.
You would likely even need to go through something similar to become a volunteer senior companion.
In general, an elderly companion is considered a caregiver with limited responsibilities. However, a caregiver isn’t necessarily a companion.
Find out the differences between a caregiver and a CNA.
What Are The Duties Of A Companion?
The role of a senior companion is to provide support and assistance to elderly patients.
Home companion care means you’re expected to help with all daily activities and provide emotional support to the senior, in the client’s home.
In addition, you’re required to:
- Assist with personal care such as bathing and dressing
- Preparing meals for patients who can’t prepare their own food or feeding them if they’re unable to feed themselves
- Helping with walking or transfers from one place to another, such as a wheelchair or bed-bound patient
- Help seniors engage in social activities and events
- Engage clients by conversing with them, playing games, watching TV or reading
- Take a genuine interest in each client’s life and well-being. Help clients address their personal, physical or emotional needs. Make sure you’re not only willing to listen but genuinely present when they want to talk about a particular topic or share memories from the past.
- Keep accurate records of your daily activities with seniors, including meal times, medication schedules, personal hygiene, and anything else that’s important.
- Driving seniors to planned outings and events
- Handling errands on their behalf or with them, such as grocery shopping, banking, or getting medical appointments.
- Provide emotional support for seniors who are coping or healing from illness or injury.
How Do You Become A Certified Companion?
So, you’re convinced that you have what it takes to become a certified companion for the elderly. What will it take to make your dream a reality?
The good news is that most institutions only require a high school diploma or equivalent and a willingness to learn. However, some companies do prefer that candidates have a college degree in the form of a nursing degree or other medical degree.
Additional skills like CPR, emergency care, and basic first aid are a plus since most seniors require these services.
Most employers need individuals who have excellent communication skills, can demonstrate patience, and are reliable.
In addition, having a valid driver’s license is a must since many seniors require assistance in getting from one place to another.
The average income for companions varies widely depending on which region of the United States you reside in.
Other factors also affect the income of a paid companion, such as service location, experience level, education background, additional training, etc.
That said, according to Zippia, the average pay rate is pegged at around $25,000 – 30,000 per year.
However, you can improve your earning rate by:
- Competing training programs that certify you in certain areas of senior care: Improving your education level, particularly with some college credits under your belt, can improve earning rates by as much as 25%.
- Joining caregiver’s associations and other groups for caregivers to improve your competitive edge.
- Gaining certifications such as CPR certification, First Aid Certification, etc., provide better pay rates than unqualified workers.
- Improving your experience by volunteering or working part-time in a senior care environment.
- Comparing hiring professionals before applying for jobs. Salaries vary from one employer to another, therefore, search for the one that pays the best.
Being a companion for the elderly can be physically and emotionally demanding. However, it is also rewarding work that enables older adults to live happier lives while bringing comfort, peace of mind, and companionship into their world.
Being there for a senior in times of need gives you a unique opportunity to make a profound difference in a senior’s life. Therefore, if this is a career path that you would like to pursue, then becoming a certified companion is the best way to get started.
We hope the tips we’ve shared in this article will make the process smoother for you!
Frequently Asked Questions About Companions For The Elderly
Does Medicare cover a companion?
Medicare may cover some aspects of home care, such as physical or occupational therapy or part time skilled nursing care. But, those aren’t really the same as companion care, which focuses more on personal services, such as helping with getting dressed or transportation.
The Medicare website specifically says they will not cover, “Homemaker services (like shopping, cleaning, and laundry) that aren’t related to your care plan.“
The Medicare website also notes that they will not pay for “Custodial or personal care that helps you with daily living activities (like bathing, dressing, or using the bathroom), when this is the only care you need.”
Does Medicaid pay for companion care?
According to A Place For Mom, Medicaid may pay for some in home services, such as meal preparation, housekeeping, assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), and transportation.
Please be aware, though, that the services covered by Medicaid vary from state to state, so it is best to check with your local Medicare agency to find out what services you might be eligible to receive.