They say that mine is the “Sandwich Generation”—caught between raising children and helping parents as they age. Personally, an orange peel feels more appropriate: squeezed to a pulp with nothing more to give. This is said with love, gratitude and, yes, exhaustion.
Where there is a crater-sized need, there is opportunity. As chief visionary of a company trying to address the jobs crisis, I will name two.
Medical Coach– This is my new term for the person who guides you through the labyrinth that is our healthcare system, making sense of it so that you and your loved ones can make educated decisions. Perhaps it is a retired nurse, an unemployed pharmacist or someone (like me) who was quite ill as a teenager and later worked for years in the healthcare sector. The central role of this hired hand is to take notes, create medication charts from discharge forms, advise when asked and recognize that the patient and his family “drive the bus”– a phrase I often use as I guide the care of my father-in-law. This is an invaluable role when done well, particularly for those of my generation who are trying to manage the care of their parents from afar.
Driver– Not the one in the golf bag, but the trusted individual that gets you to Doctor Fixit and back home again. Nearly half of lifetime healthcare expenditures occur during the senior years (65+). For those who reach age 85, more than one-third of their lifetime expenditures will accrue in their remaining years. Trust me when I say that this equates to a lot of doctor’s visits, tests, follow-ups and emergency trips to the hospital!
This past week was to be my first in 15 years without children and was interrupted by the critical needs of my father-in-law, who has advanced prostate cancer and heart disease. No sooner had we dropped off child #2 at camp than we got “the call” and raced to an UrgiCare facility. From there it was a two-hour trip to New York City to Sloan Kettering, followed by a week of numerous calls, emails, phone conversations and TLC. “Warhorse” may be a terrific play, but it would have to wait.
We would have welcomed relief from a driver who could accompany my mother-in-law to the hospital. A driver would also have been a great help when her recently replaced knees screamed with pain, necessitating another visit to the doctor. Alas, the one driver whom we had called upon on a couple of occasions was overbooked for the day taking other clients to doctor’s appointments.
Michael Shuman’s book, Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street and Achieve Real Prosperity, says that 50% of our economy is local. Someone in Wisconsin cannot help me with these problems. Mine is a local problem that demands a local solution. To cultivate a business, one need only look at a radius in which they can drive a gallon's worth of gas.
If you have a background in healthcare, a loving heart, an ability to communicate effectively and/or a well maintained car and a clean driving record, there is money to be made. Join forces locally—finding this kind of niche market is the way to prosperity.
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