Jan 12, 2012, 6:58 AM
Post #1 of 1
New businesses help seniors maintain independence longer
One of the truly wonderful things about free enterprise is that it rewards those who fill a need. For years there has been a need to provide home care for seniors that arenít ready for or do not have access to a long term care facility. Having experienced the vagaries of long term care in my own family and in a single payer healthcare system no less, I have come to readily appreciate the availability of private support and nursing staff.
With the population now rapidly aging, governments are at a loss as to how to meet the needs of its ever-growing number geriatric citizens. In most cases the responsibility for caring for frail elders falls squarely onto family members, typically middle aged women who take care of parents or in-laws, while also still parenting teens. Hence the term ďsandwich generation,Ē as these individuals are sandwiched between the needs of their children and those of aging parents.
However, providing care to a frail parent on an ongoing basis can be overly demanding, as many who find themselves in that position also have careers and not necessarily for self aggrandizement, but out of genuine financial need. Enter the homecare industry.
In prior decades homecare businesses tended to be few and far between, as there just wasnít a sufficient population base to create a market for such endeavors and letís face it, people didnít live as long. Now that medical breakthroughs, improvements in nutrition and healthier lifestyles are extending the lifespan of our population, such businesses can thrive because this phenomenon brings with it a fairly large demographic cohort that trends older and more affluent. And while indeed individuals are tending to live longer and healthier lives, many do not escape the ravages associated with aging. Hence there is an increased need for providers of care that includes everything from companion services, to assistance with errands and shopping, right through to highly specialized in-home nursing careóall for a fee, of course.
One such company is Visiting Angels Living Assistance Services. Founded in 1988, the company has grown from a modest concern to a nationwide network of franchised offices that provide care in 400 markets. Another such Company is BrightStar Homecare, which provides a similar range of services and has 250 franchise locations across the U.S. BrightStar also offers in-home childcare that includes sitter services and ranges all the way through personalized pediatric nursing help. BrightStar has recently decided to roll out its franchises internationally, with initiatives in Canada, Britain and Australia. Of course, for every large homecare corporation, there are literally hundreds of small organizations providing a similar range of services, some for profit and some that are community-based and not-for-profit.
In my opinion, this is the dawning of a new age, as governments are hard-pressed to meet the financial needs of its day to day operations and demand for long-term health services for seniors increases. We can be sure that even under the most generous single-payer system there arenít enough dollars available to fill the void. The only rational solution then is the one we are seeing now in development. The need will be filled by the private sector either through volunteerism or through fees designed to generate profits and at best government involvement will be to provide uniform regulations for the industry.
Klaus Rohrich is President and Creative Director of Taylor/Rohrich Associates Inc., a marketing and advertising firm that specializes in niche marketing retirement real estate developments