Senior care business flourishing despite COVID-19 changes

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Seniors Helping Seniors is an interesting business model started by a woman who worked with Mother Teresa: The company hires seniors who need work to help seniors who don't or can't work.

But a business that sends people into the homes of senior citizens was bound to have a hiccup at the beginning of the pandemic.

"A lot of people got very frightened because they didn't want anybody in their home. Our business dropped off 20-30 percent at the start," Eric Oltman, the owner of a local Seniors Helping Seniors franchise, told ABC 11.

Oltman, of Cary, is quick to point out that once COVID-19 protections like masking, social distancing, hand washing and health checks became more common, many realized they needed home visitation services for older family members more than ever.

That was especially true for front line workers like doctors and nurses who faced daily exposure and were reluctant to then visit older family members.

They increasingly began turning to Seniors Helping Seniors according to Oltman who said, "They have us do the visitations, make sure that their parents are eating well, having someone to talk to, getting things done around the house."

David Campbell of Cary notes he uses Seniors Helping Seniors because of his memory issues. "There are things that I can do by myself, but it's just easier if I get some help."

Campbell's wife spends a lot of time away from home taking care of her elderly mother in northern Virginia.

So he gets regular visits from Seniors Helping Seniors.

Thanks to Campbell and others, the company's business started picking up in the summer of 2020.

And it included new clients directly affected by COVID-19.

"All of a sudden, people started checking out of the hospital and checking out of rehab centers and it started to grow," Oltman said.

Then, not only did the business recover, but it grew. Oltman said his business grew 20 percent in 2020.

Now that workers can get vaccinated, he thinks business could grow even more in 2021.

Those workers feel more liberated said Oltman noting, "They're willing to go into more places than originally they were willing to go."

For clients like David Campbell, having someone to help with memory care means his wife doesn't have to worry about him while she's away.

That reassurance takes the pressure off him.

"It's nice to have people involved who can help remind me to do things," Campbell said.

With more seniors needing help because of the pandemic Seniors Helping Seniors hopes to continue its Carolina Comeback well into 2021.
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