Female personal care worker kneels down next to senior woman in wheelchair outside of her home.

Companion Care vs. Personal Care

Last updated on December 01, 2021

If you’re deciding whether non-medical home care is the best option for a loved one, you probably heard the terms “companion care” and “personal care.” These two at-home services may seem similar, and many people use the terms interchangeably, but they are different.

You’ll be able to select the right home care support for a family member or friend by understanding the benefits of each.

Companion Care for Seniors With Essential Needs

Companion care is a non-medical home care service that provides essential support for seniors and disabled adults. This type of assistance usually entails emotional and social support and can handle the following tasks and activities:

  • Companionship
    One of the most important aspects of companion care is providing your senior loved one with a friendly and familiar face to depend upon when you’re not available. Our caregivers can help them overcome social isolation and find enjoyment through meaningful interaction and engagement via favorite hobbies, exercise, pleasant conversations, meal times, and more. Companion caregivers can also schedule fun activities or social outings.
  • Light housekeeping and errands
    Many older adults without serious physical impairments may still have difficulty keeping up with housekeeping and errands. Companion caregivers can help pick up the slack and assist with light housekeeping duties or errands, such as:
  • Going to the laundromat or dry cleaner’s
  • Dusting, mopping, sweeping, and vacuuming
  • Cleaning kitchen and bathroom surfaces
  • Picking up groceries or assisting with meal preparation
  • Picking up care supplies
  • Transportation
    Older adults may have difficulty driving to and from appointments or find it challenging to navigate public transportation on their own. Companion caregivers can arrange for safe transportation to get them where they need to go safely and on time.
  • Communicating with family members and care team
    Although companion caregivers do not provide medical assistance, they can monitor your loved one’s health and well-being and inform you of any concerns to bring up at a doctor’s visit. If your loved one falls or has a medical emergency, a companion caregiver can call for immediate medical assistance.

Companion care DOES NOT include medication management or direct physical assistance with daily activities such as dressing, bathing, or toileting.

Personal Care for Seniors With More Intensive Needs

Personal care involves all the duties performed by a companion caregiver, however, it can also help seniors with “Activities of Daily Living” (ADLs), such as:

  • Grooming and personal hygiene
    Personal caregivers offer assistance with grooming and hygiene needs, such as shaving, haircare, skincare, makeup, and oral and dental care.
  • Dressing
    Older adults may have difficulty dressing on their own. Personal caregivers provide daily assistance with dressing while allowing your loved one to have control over their style.
  • Mobility and transfer assistance
    A personal caregiver is a great resource for older adults who have difficulty walking or moving about independently. They can help your senior loved one navigate rooms safely, avoid falls, and gently and securely transfer them from the couch or bed.
  • Feeding
    Personal caregivers can assist seniors who have difficulty feeding themselves and provide help with cooking and meal preparation.

Personal caregivers can also help seniors remember which medications to take at prescribed times.

Overall, personal care is best for older adults who may have cognitive or physical disabilities or have more intensive physical care requirements.

Which Type of Home Care is Right for Your Senior?

While both services help older adults to age-in-place safely and comfortably, they are not the same.

Companion care is ideal for seniors who primarily need social support and could benefit from some assistance with light housekeeping or errands. Personal care is reserved for older adults who require direct physical assistance, have significant difficulty with mobility, or have a chronic health condition, such as diabetes or dementia.

Make sure to speak with your loved one to determine what type of care they might need. Having them included when hiring a caregiver can make the transition easier.

For additional support in determining which kind of home care is right for your senior loved one, consider a Visiting Angels free home care consultation.

If you're interested in our compassionate home care services for you or a loved one, contact your nearest Visiting Angels home care agency today or call 800-365-4189.
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