In three years of providing in-home care for seniors and hospice patients Valerie Sanders said she’s amazed how many seniors need care and how many care takers don’t know where to turn for help.
“When I was growing up there was always a neighbor to call,” Sanders said. “There was a person you could rely on if you weren’t going to be home right away and the kids were getting off the bus, or if you needed someone to watch mom for a bit.”
When Sanders began looking for a way to make a difference in her own life and leave her job as a financial planner she began to notice the disconnect. Many people move to Arizona and don’t have family nearby. So she started The Neighbor Lady. She offered herself to help care for seniors living at home near the end of their life. Once she began to take on a few clients her business began to grow.
“What we’ve tried to do in the community is have all our clients here and all of our ladies are from here,” Sanders said. “We really are connected to our community. When I go out to meet someone for the first time, within three sentences we know someone. Our kids went to school together or something and there’s a connection right away. The concept was to create that caring neighborly atmosphere in a world where our neighbors aren’t necessarily close like they used to be.”
Now called The Neighbor Ladies, Sanders’ group provides in-home non-medical care. They do light housekeeping, meal preparation, medication reminders, safety supervision, transportation, companionship, grooming and family respite. Sanders said because her employees work in the same neighborhood they live they’re able to form bonds that last sometimes even past the loved one’s death.
“There have been several clients where we’ve been there when they took their last breath and that’s special,” she said. “That’s a bond you’ll never forget. People appreciate the care and also the professionalism. They probably won’t ever go through that again, but we’ve done it over and over. There’s also a process to go through and we can ease their concerns over what to do next.”
Sanders said she’s unsure if the need is getting greater or if because she does provide care for a living, she’s just noticing it more. What she does see is people struggling and there are many local companies who can provide help.
“People get to a breaking point,” she said. “It’s not just the physical demands, which are great, but you’re watching someone you love dearly pass away. In a lot of cases it’s the spouse who may be 80 years old themselves. By the time they call for help their own health is compromised. There are people who can relieve some of the burden. There are people who aren’t fearful or turned off by what they might see. It may not be pretty but there are people who are familiar and comfortable with that and can slip in quietly and hold your hand through it.”
For more information on The Neighbor Ladies, visit www.theneighborlady.com or call (480) 577-6933.
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