Elder CompanionMany elderly people need help in their day-to-day lives but don’t have anyone to turn to.  Their children may live hundreds or thousands of miles away.  They may not want, or may not be able to afford, to live in a nursing home.  So you can make a living by providing help and companionship to these elderly people.

You would perform a wide variety of tasks:

  • Running errands (grocery shopping, driving to appointments, etc.)
  • Housework
  • Cooking or providing meals
  • Playing cards or games
  • Going out to parks or other fun outings
  • Keeping your companions’ families informed of their well-being
  • Any other special needs your companions need help with

The Good

You’ll be helping the elderly and making sure they have access to good meals, getting them to their doctor appointments, and enriching their lives with friendship.  It’s a noble cause and you’ll know that you’re really making a difference in someone’s lives.

The Bad

The pay is generally pretty low.  According to PayScale.com, average hourly rates are about $7-10.

Education / Skills required

You won’t need any special education for this job.  You need to have a big heart, willingness to do a variety of tasks, and patience.

Equipment / Tools required

A dependable car is all you’ll need for this job, as you will have to visit your companion(s) and run errands for them.  You may also want some board games, cards, books, movies, and other fun stuff to do with your companions.


You can run this business from your home.  Most of the time you will be traveling to visit your companions or run errands.

Startup costs

Startup costs will include your advertising and promotion expenses.  You will probably want to print fliers, create a web site, and place ads in the Yellow Pages or local newspapers.  If you stick with a simple web site, you could start this business for less than $1000.

Legal / Insurance issues

You should avoid giving any medical care or anything else that requires special training or licenses.  If you did, and your companion suffered health problems as a result, you could easily be sued.  Even things as simple as reminding your companion to take their pills could cause problems.  If you forget to remind them and they are harmed because of it, you could be held liable.

I’m no lawyer, so I recommend discussing this issue with a lawyer before going into this business.  You may need to have your clients sign some kind of release form before working with them.

How to start

Post fliers in community centers, senior centers, pharmacies, and medical equipment stores.  Place ads in church newsletters, local newspapers, and the Yellow Pages.  Build a simple web site that describes your services and include references or testimonials from satisfied clients.  Keep business cards handy.  Do everything you can to spread the word.

If you are not getting any clients, you could work for a care giving company for a while to gain some experience (see Further Reading below).  When you have some experience and satisfied clients you can then break off and be self-employed.

Potential clients

Obviously, your clients are going to be elderly people that need help or basic care.

Don’t limit your advertising to elderly circles, though.  Anyone might see your ad and think of someone they know who needs your services.


Charge an hourly fee for your services.  If any of your clients live far away, you could negotiate a fair mileage rate for your driving.

As mentioned above, the national average for this job is about $7-10 per hour.  You could possibly charge more if you are experienced or provide an excellent level of service, though.

Further reading

There are several companies around the U.S. that provide elder companion services.  If you are having trouble starting out, you could try working for one of these companies to gain some experience.

Here are a few examples:

You can also use these sites to research your competition.  You can see what services they offer and how much they charge to get an idea of how to set your own fees.