Companion care is an increasingly popular type of care for seniors. While most people recognize the benefits of having companions, they often omit to make their expectations clear and are left frustrated. Here are 5 tips to get the most out of a companion for your aging parent.
1. Identify your primary needs
Companion care goes beyond “hanging out” with a senior. Good companions understand the importance of positive conversation and engaging activities. Each senior is different, therefore their relationship with the companion will be different.
- Do you want your loved one to spend the whole time alone with the companion, or do you want the companion to support your loved one during group activities?
- Should the companionship stay within the home, or would you prefer them going out in the community?
- Would you like the Ohana team member to assist with some chores as part of their time?
Identifying your needs will guide the relationship and increase the value of your companion.
2. Make a list of different activities your loved one enjoys doing, or used to take part in.
This will help guide the companion, and Ohana can also train a companion on how to play certain games to support the senior’s independence. It’s preferable you supply the equipment required and either let the companion know where it is stored, or leave it in a spot that is visible. Seniors also like to keep habits alive: let the companion know if they typically get their coffee at certain spots or like to take part in an activity in a community center on certain days. While companions may have outing suggestions, they ultimately are there to support the lifestyle of their clients.
3. Schedule a companion at a time that suits your needs best
There are a lot of factors that can impact the quality of the outcome of companion care. Addressing the sleep/nap schedule, the physical pain, the variation in cognitive abilities, and more can be challenging. You also must keep in mind what your end goal is: stimulation for the senior, peace of mind while the primary caregiver is away, redirection so the primary caregiver can tend to tasks, etc. Ohana can help you navigate these through pointed questions. Always keep in mind that needs can change, and you can always request a different schedule!
4. Share your expectations with both the Company and the companion
Letting the Company know about your expectations is a great way to increase the companion’s accountability. Expectations vary greatly from one family to another, it’s best to communicate them with all parties involved. These can range from a cell phone policy, to a structured schedule, to forbidden activities (such as TV), to how the companion lets you know how the day went, etc. Ohana uses the Best Friends™ Approach from the Alzheimer’s Society, and the personalization of service is key to ensure seniors get the best care.
5. Close your eyes!
Imagine what your ideal companion looks like. Is it a male or female? Outspoken and bubbly, or reserved and great listener? Have a car? Younger or older? Have a specific skill? While we can’t guarantee we will find someone that checks off all the boxes, it is helpful to know what you are looking for and what relationship you envision. Hiring a companion is a big decision and Ohana wants to support you in the process. If you want to discuss your options or aren’t sure where to start, give us a call and it will be our pleasure to address any concerns.
If you follow these 5 tips, it will help get you the most out of a companion for your aging parent.