Sometimes a little help here and there makes it possible for the elderly to remain at home rather than move into a facility.
I spoke with Mary Terwilliger, Executive Director of Living Well Companion Care, about this service line of Jewish Senior Life. Jewish Senior Life provides a continuum of services (for people of all faiths, non-faiths, all ethnicities) from rehabilitation to skilled nursing; memory care to home physician visits, and more. See https://jewishseniorlife.org/.
“We do senior living very well. But we also realize, although we have a beautiful living community, not everybody wants to move. They want to stay at home as long as they can, sometimes forever,” Terwilliger said.
That’s where Living Well Companion Care can help. It offers services based on the individual client’s needs. After a complimentary evaluation, they consider the person’s lifestyle and medical conditions to identify the non-medical assistance that would support his or her choice to live at home. They even consider personalities when matching a companion with a client.
Living Well Companion Care employees go through comprehensive screenings, including background and DMV checks, references, and drug testing. They receive excellent training, as well as training with the Alzheimer’s Association, for their certification.
“Many of our clients do suffer from some form of memory loss. These companions are pretty savvy when it comes to working with these conditions,” Terwilliger said.
The Democrat & Chronicle named Jewish Senior Life a “Top Workplace” three years in a row. Many Living Well Companion Care employees are retirees, or nursing assistants who no longer want to do hands-on care. Others are moms, and Terwilliger offers flexibility in work hours to accommodate busy families’ schedules. She said they are always hiring, even though many companions remain with the company for several years.
Because companions do not give personal care, it may be cost effective to blend services. For example, if a person needs help with bathing, one could hire an aide to provide that service, but use the companion care for other services at the lower companion rate.
Companions help with:
- Meal preparation
- Medication reminders
- Escorting to appointments. Transportation for shopping and errands
- Safety and supervision
- Pet care — they even will walk your dog.
Just knowing a loved one can receive these services at a reasonable rate (and some Long Terms Care policies may provide coverage) may reduce caregiver stress. Terwilliger understands that from her own experience. As a member of the “Sandwich Generation,” she felt pressure “sandwiched” between her work, family, and parents’ needs. By the time she finished “doing” for her parents, she had no time left to visit. After hiring help for her parents in their home, Mary finally had time to just sit and talk with them, which is what they wanted most.
Not all adult children live near their parents. “A lot of our clients have no family in the area, so we’re the people that are the eyes and ears for their children who live out of town, are working, or are busy with their families, and just can’t devote the time they want to.”
Living Well Companion Care offers respite care, even for 24 hours a day. For example, their service can provide someone to stay with a loved one during his or her first night in a nursing facility, when everything is strange and confusing — or stay with Mom or Dad when a caregiver needs to leave town. Terwilliger works with Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) because many people lose time at work due to caregiving demands. With services in place, people can continue to travel for work, knowing their loved one is safe and cared for.
Sometimes the companion may be the only reason a person gets up and dressed for the day. Without meals prepared for them by their companion, many would not get the nutrition they need to stay well. Living Well Companion Care can add months, perhaps years, to a life lived comfortably in one’s own home.
For more information, or to learn about their At Home Handyman Services, visit, https://jewishseniorlife.org/home-services/living-well-companion-care/ or call (585) 248-5021
Finding other resources
If you need to find resources to help you care for someone, click on the GRAPE logo below. Once on the GRAPE site, click on Elder Pages to find the businesses and agencies that serve the elderly in the Rochester area.