For many seniors, the presence of a companion several hours a day in their home can mean the return of freedom and greater independence.

“A companion to a frail senior, or someone with early Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, can mean all the difference in the world,” said Diane Keefe, a geriatric care manager who recently joined Pear Tree Home Care a non-medical home care agency servicing the St. Louis County, MO area. “Providing a companion gives homebound people back their freedom and gives them hope.”

Firms like Pear Tree Home Care – a member of Companion Connection Senior Care, a national organization that strives to maintain high standards of quality care for the non-medical care agencies that comprise its network – provide clients help with their Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). This includes supervision with dressing, bathing and grooming, as well as meal preparation, light housekeeping, and transportation to and from doctors’ offices. Perhaps, most of all, seniors benefit from the companionship itself, a necessity for the many whose social world has grown smaller.

Unlike home health aides, companions do not provide hands-on care, such as for individuals who are bedridden, but can offer medicine reminders. The cost, however, is far less for hourly or live-in care, and often more appropriate for people who are generally healthy.

The service provided by the relative handful of specialty home care agencies in this area like Pear Tree Home Care are in great demand – and will only grow in the years ahead. According to the National Academy on Aging Society, there are an estimated 8.5 million people over age 70 in America with limitations in walking, dressing, bathing, shopping, paying bills and preparing meals. Estimates are that the number will grow to 21 million in the next quarter century.

Providing services like this present an important benefit to what sociologists refer to as the “sandwich generation,” those baby boomers who find themselves caring for both their children and their elderly parents.

As people grow older, they become more susceptible to the frailties of old age and those activities that were once so simple, become increasingly more difficult.

“For many of these people, their only option would be to have family members look after them – or be institutionalized,” said Diane. “Many people either don’t have family members to care for them, or are reluctant to shift the burden of care upon their children. Plus, they don’t want to leave their homes to live in a senior facility, except as a last resort and with dementia, their ability to adapt to new situations is impaired and makes their adjustment to a facility more difficult. We provide a third, very viable option – a companion who gives them the help they need, and the social outlet. Even just several hours a day can make a huge difference. Many of our clients say that it’s these hours of the day, or these days of the week, that they look forward to most.”

For more information about Pear Tree Home Care, call 314-942-9411.

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