Where do I find a companion for my dad?

A fellow caregiver asked...

Where do I look for someone to just come in and spend some time with my dad for maybe an hour or two a few days a week? He is 89 and lives alone, very lonely...

Expert Answer

Maria Basso Lipani writes a popular website on geriatric care topics, where she puts her expertise as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker to good use answering care planning questions. Maria is a graduate of Columbia University School of Social Work and is licensed in California and New York.

You have a few options for finding a companion for your elderly father. The first two no-cost thoughts I have are as follows:

1) Learn about any friendly visitor programs that may exist in his area. One quick way to find this information would be to speak with the social worker at the local senior center. Since you have him or her on the phone, it makes sense to ask about the programs and activities that take place there too. Having your father go out rather than having someone come in may be a nice variation from time to time and he might appreciate the social interaction with others his age.

2) Contact area churches and ask if they have volunteers who make home visits. Many churches have such programs and most don't mind if the person needing the visits isn't a parishioner although it's important to ask.

If neither of the above pans out, you could also hire someone to spend time with your father through a local home care agency. However, finding an agency that would agree to an hour or two may be challenging "“ most require a minimum of four. That said, I would still float the idea past your father and perhaps even suggest a trial run for a day or two before he makes up his mind. If he's very lonely he may welcome having someone around for the additional time.