Phoenix Seniors Get Help From “The Neighbor Ladies”

Phoenix Seniors Get Help From “The Neighbor Ladies”

Posted on April 5, 2014 by ElderCare Resources Phoenix in Blog, Caregiver Education, Education, Home Care Non-Medical, Independent Living

The Neighbor Ladies aid Ahwatukee seniors

By: Coty Dolores Miranda

Valerie Sanders of Ahwatukee remembers while growing up in Michigan how neighbors were quick to help each other.

“There was always a neighbor to call. There were people you could rely on if you needed help,” Sanders said.

After moving to Ahwatukee in 1998, Sanders noticed that many seniors in the village had no family nearby for support and assistance, whether in-home care or a ride to a doctor appointment.

So, Sanders, a University of Michigan graduate with a degree in marketing, started her own business assisting seniors, the Neighbor Lady. As word got around, she was flooded with requests.

In 2009, after interviewing like-minded Ahwatukee women, she expanded the business, renaming it the Neighbor Ladies. With more than a dozen screened caregivers on board, the Neighbor Ladies provide in-home, non-medical assistance, from a three-hour minimum to overnight or extended stays, serving Southeast Valley communities.

“We’re very connected to our communities,” she said.

Needs are determined during a free, in-home assessment, and include companionship, light housekeeping, meal preparation, transportation and, most important to spouses or “sandwich generation” adult children who are primary caregivers, time off for themselves.

The Neighbor Ladies are featured at the free 2014 Senior Advocacy Group of Ahwatukee symposium, “Navigating Beyond Retirement: A Community Event for Seniors, Adult Children & Caregivers,” 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Saturday, March 29, at Mountain View Lutheran Church.

We asked Sanders to tell us more.

Question: What was it about caregiving that got you into this business? For example, did you have a relative requiring care?

Answer: My maternal grandmother was the inspiration for starting the Neighbor Ladies. She was the consummate caregiver, both personally and professionally. She had Alzheimer’s for 11 years. I wanted to have our family care for her at home but I was overruled. I always regretted not being able to keep her at home.

I also read a little book called, “Living a Life That Matters,” by a popular rabbi. He writes about how to align your values with your life work. The book made me realize I could live a seamless life combining my values and a desire to succeed financially.

Q: What are the goals for your business? Do you see expanding perhaps to a franchise?

A: My only goal is to serve our clients well. I once browsed through a book on getting referrals. The first line was, “The way to get referrals is to be referable.” So simple but so wise. So, that’s what we do, just a great job every time. I do have family and friends in other parts of the country who’ve expressed a desire to bring the Neighbor Ladies to their town. I’d only consider franchising with someone that I know very well and trust implicitly.

Q: What is unique about your business?

A: We’re unique because we truly are neighbors with our clients. Our caregivers aren’t driving all over the Valley to care for clients, usually just down the road or across the street. We don’t request a deposit or contract. We operate on the honor system and that has never failed us.

Q: Our Boomers are aging. How should their children, the “sandwich generation,” be planning?

A: They should talk to their parents to find out how they would like to spend their final years. Discuss various “what if” situations and plan with the parents while they are able to contribute to the conversation.

Q: What’s the best business advice you’ve received?

A: My mother always told me that your reputation and credit are hard to establish and easy to destroy, so, take good care of both. That’s pretty good advice for a business or life in general.

The Neighbor Ladies – Owner: Valerie Sanders – Information: 480-577-6933

Published: AZCentral