Becoming a Senior Companion on a Stipend
Volunteering as a Paid Senior Companion: Giving Care for a Caregiver
The old question was "Who gives care to the caregiver's daughter, when the caregiver is away giving care?" The answer today might be a Senior Companion.
For qualifying Americans with special needs, the United States Government provides funds to allow qualified volunteers to receive an hourly, non-taxable stipend and transportation costs to provide much-needed assistance.
The program also serves as added income for the volunteers, in effect benefiting both the volunteer and the recipient of their services.
What a Typical Week Is Like
I work as a Senior Companion, and here is an example of what my week is like:
Monday: I will spend three hours with a senior male whose primary need is for a friend who can spend time with him and occasionally transport him to the bank, the store, a doctor's appointment, etc. We will probably play pool at a senior center and eat lunch together there. He will pay $3 for his lunch, and so will I, but my cost of $3 will be reimbursed when I submit my time sheet at the end of the month. My mileage to meet with him will be reimbursed also, as well as any mileage for short trips he needs to take to and from the senior center, store, etc.
Tuesday: I will take a senior male who has Alzheimer's to the same senior center to play bingo, have our $3 lunches, and then home. Back at home, we may play tic-tac-toe, or I will read to him from a picture book while his caregiver wife has 3 or 4 hours to do needed shopping, go to the dentist, get a pedicure, visit a friend, etc.
Wednesday: I will take a senior male for his weekly shopping trips to a nearby store and pharmacy for his groceries and medications. We will also go to the senior center for our lunches, and we will have time to visit, play a game, or on occasion go to one of his medical appointments during the four hours we meet each week.
Thursday: This will be a repeat of my time with my Alzheimer's client and respite time for his caregiver.
Friday (or one day each month): I will have in-service Senior Companion training with other volunteers in our group with lunch provided. Later in the day, I will take another senior male client and assist him with his transportation and weekly shopping, which takes just an hour to an hour and a half. If this is not the monthly training day, I will also meet and assist another client in the same way and take him to lunch and some companionship activity.
What Other Volunteers May Do
In our group, women volunteers may spend their week doing many of the same things I do, but for senior women clients. Some may also need transportation, or assistance writing letters and reading mail, or they just need time with someone who cares about their concerns and daily needs.
Requirements for Volunteers
- All Senior Companions are vetted, fingerprinted, licensed to drive their own properly insured vehicles, and meet the maximum household income requirements all volunteers must meet to participate.
- Volunteers should commit to serving a minimum of one year, though our group has many volunteers who have been serving for five, ten, or even more years.
More Senior Companions Are Needed Across the U.S.
Generally speaking, most areas of the United States need additional volunteers for fellow Americans who really would benefit from being served by their neighbors. If you have some time you can dedicate to helping others facing special needs, why not check out the Senior Companion program in your state?
If you need this kind of help for someone you know, contact your local Senior Companion program director. Find out what help is available.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.