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Starting an Eldercare Business

A growing population of older individuals combined with your skills as a caregiver could mean a new business opportunity for you.

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By 2020, it's expected that nearly seven million people in the United States will be over the age of 85. That's five times more than in 1970. This graying of the population, combined with the prevalence of two-earner households where both individuals are working killer schedules, is stoking the demand for services that our grandparents didn't need-and probably never could have imagined.

Where will all these older individuals live? Eight-five percent of them want to live at home. But to do so, many will need help with the daily tasks of living. Although many adult children would like to care for their elders, they're often residing in another city or working jobs that prevent them from taking on the triple-duty load of pursuing a career, parenting their own children and taking care of their parents.

This is where in-home nonmedical caregivers come to the rescue with hands-on help. They assist seniors with the "activities of daily living"-cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, bill paying, grooming, laundry, medication reminders, errands and shopping, as well as driving them to medical appointments. They also provide needed companionship, a feature particularly valued by widowed elders.

Interested in pursuing this career? While you certainly don't need to join a franchise to provide in-, franchises are one route to take and may be especially suitable if you want develop a larger business. The largest eldercare franchises are:

To provide this service, you'll need to be bonded$151; if you're transporting seniors in your vehicle, you'll also need liability insurance. (If you buy a franchise, you'll likely obtain your insurance and bond through the company at a group rate.) You obtain clients mostly by referral. So you need to develop relationships with hospital discharge planners, physicians, realtors, and social agencies who come into contact with the elderly.

You'll need no formal training to provide basic eldercare. What you will need is the ability to work hard, be punctual and reliable, and enjoy meeting and socializing with your older customers. And if you're interested in going beyond basic eldercare, there are other businesses emerging to serve seniors, including:

  • Geriatric care management, which requires a professional degree such as nursing, , psychology, or gerontology
  • Home health-care agencies, which provide trained and licensed medical personal to administer medications, monitor vital signs, and even lift and bath elderly patients in their homes
  • Senior relocation services, which help seniors downsize their homes and move to a smaller residence

No matter which of these entrepreneurial ventures you're interested in, you can be sure that as continue to age, the demand for eldercare services will continue to rise.

Paul and Sarah Edwards are the authors of Best Home Businesses for the 21st Centuryand 14 other books.

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