Hot Biz How-To: elder care/senior services
Senior citizens are the fastest-growing population in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center. By 2050, one in five Americans will be 65 or older, compared with 13 percent today. Elder care is one of the top 10 booming industries, according to a 2009 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. By 2018, the industry will employ more than 1 million nurses, home-health aides, physical therapists and other workers, compared with 585,000 in 2008.
We interviewed these local entrepreneurs about the business of aging:
- Attorney Angela Manz opened her Virginia Beach law firm in 2008 to focus on elder law, including estate planning, wills, trusts, veterans’ benefits and Medicaid issues.
- Lisa DeMascio founded Out and About in 2011. She coordinates outings, activities and errands for seniors in Virginia Beach and Norfolk.
- Shonda Washington has owned an Accessible Home Health Care franchise in Suffolk since 2006.
- Elder-law attorney Ann Golski founded her Norfolk firm in 2009 with husband Kenneth Golski.
Why did you choose this field?
Manz: I was raised in a large part by my grandparents and helped care for my great-grandmother until she moved to a nursing home. It was a very difficult time for us, and we didn’t have anyone to help us through it. I wanted to practice elder law so that other seniors facing these same issues would have a place to turn for help.
DeMascio: I spent six years working for a hospice provider where every day you’re dealing with end-of-life issues. I wanted to spend time with these folks earlier in their life’s journey.
Washington: I worked as a nurse at the NavalMedicalCenterin Portsmouth. Also, I’ve helped take care of members of my church that have been ill. Before I retired from the Navy, I started looking around for investments and decided to purchase this franchise.
Golski: It’s a growing need, and we have a personal interest. My mother passed away from Parkinson’s, and my husband’s mother has Alzheimer’s. We understand the needs of seniors and the generation that’s taking care of them.
How has your business grown?
Manz: When I started my practice, I had very few clients and, of course, very little revenue. I now have two paralegals and have served more than 700 clients in the area.
DeMascio: Well, it took six months to just get everyone to understand the type of client I served and what I was providing. At first I was getting referrals for people that weren’t really able to get up and around. Now I have nine weekly clients, and I’m doing things in between, too.
Washington: It actually has grown in leaps and bounds. We went from almost nothing to $800,000 in the first three years.
Golski: The referrals are increasing each month; the clients calls increase each month. It’s just been blossoming since we started.
Describe an industry-specific challenge.
Manz: How quickly the laws can change. Sometimes it may seem as though the rules can change overnight. What I have learned is to reach out to other attorneys and work together.
DeMascio: Seniors do not self-report, so assessing their needs is always the challenge: “What’s the true need here?”
Washington: Financing can be a challenge. You can outgrow your resources. When you do business with long-term-care companies, they have 30-day payouts, sometimes 60 days. But I still have to pay my employees every two weeks. Another thing is you have to make sure you find good, quality people.
Golski: Dealing with clients who lack capacity, and treating them with the dignity and respect they deserve. We put a lot of things in writing – it’s easier for clients to understand when they can read it, and it can remind them if they’ve forgotten.
“Hot Biz How-To” offers insights from local entrepreneurs in the hottest industries for small businesses.