Who can better understand the experiences of senior citizens than other seniors?
That is a foundation for the philosophy behind Seniors Helping Seniors in Granby. Resident Lisa Brower, 50, owns the local franchise of the national company that serves the Farmington Valley.
"You are taking a segment of the population that can appreciate what it is like to grow older," Brower said. "We understand the aches and pains and limitations that age hands us all at some point. We are able to share stories of grandchildren, local history, and similar hobbies."
The "personal touch" of the company is important to Brower, who said she answers calls, conducts preliminary assessments and interviews "potential caregivers."
This is the first business she has owned. Prior to running Seniors Helping Seniors, Brower said she was a claims adjuster for 14 years at an insurance company, "had a brief stint in real estate" and working in the cafeteria at her son's school.
"I think I have always been searching for the right career, and I have finally found it," Brower said.
Patch checked in with Brower to get the scoop on her business.
Patch: When did your business open? Is it family-run?
Lisa Brower: "I am the owner of this location, and have been since February 2009. Seniors Helping Seniors is a nationwide franchise started in 1998 in Pennsylvania by Philip and Kiran Yocum. Philip and Kiran's mission was to help those that could no longer help themselves. It was their unique approach to use fellow seniors for care giving."
Patch: What services do you offer at your company?
Brower: "We offer multi-taskers who can help with things like meal preparation, light house keeping, errands, transportation, personal care, 24/7 care, and most importantly friendly companionship."
Patch: Why do you like having your business in town?
Brower: "I love Granby. We moved here 11 years ago from Westchester County in NY for a better quality of life for our two young children. We have never looked back, it was a great decision. I love the small-town feel and friendliness. I love continuing to meet and help those in my community."
Patch: Can you give us examples of how you are helping others with your business?
Brower: "The unique approach of only using seniors to help other seniors is a double-sided benefit for the community. It allows those that are still able-bodied to make some extra money while providing the satisfaction of helping others, and obviously we provide the care that some seniors need to remain in their own homes.
"There is no greater satisfaction than helping a senior remain at home where they are comfortable, and where they want to be. For me, the most heartwarming is seeing how my helpers bond with their clients. We had one 99-year-old gentleman for three years who became like the caregiver's own father; they visited him during bouts of illness when he was hospitalized, and then stayed with him through a rather turbulent end of life situation. Afterwards they continued to help out the family on their own free time, and continue as friends to this day."
Patch: What's your main customer base?
Brower: "Seniors, most are over the age of 85 and living alone. The vast majority are women."
Patch: Why did you decide to open your business?
Brower: "I love seniors, always have and always will. I was raised by 'older' parents, and have always just been very comfortable around seniors. My mom just turned 90, and I am overwhelmed by her strength and wisdom. I know she wants nothing more than to be able to stay in her own home, and that helps me to appreciate what it takes, and how important that is to so many seniors. I often feel that seniors are not given the attention they deserve, with just a little help so many more seniors would be able to stay at home."
Patch: Do you have a business mantra you live by?
Brower: "It sounds very cliche, but 'treat others as you would like to be treated.' I always try to look at situations from both sides and make the best of it. I believe that people are good, and some just need a little more understanding than others. I always do what I say I am going to do, and I try to go a step beyond that whenever possible."
Patch: Finish the sentence. When I'm not working I'm...
Brower: "Watching my kids sporting events, at the YMCA, in the woods with my dogs, outside gardening or over at my mom's house."
Business Name: Seniors Helping Seniors
Owner: Lisa Brower
Address: Works out of home, 16 High Ridge Dr., Granby