Older Workers Pummeled by Recession Are Finding Hope In The Senior Care Industry

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Nearly one of every three unemployed older workers has not seen a paycheck in more than a year, according to the Pew Economic Policy Group. Once older workers become unemployed, they are more likely than younger workers to stay unemployed for a long period of time, according to the report. There is hope for those over 55, though. The Home Instead Senior Care® network is seeing senior-care franchise opportunities open the door to much-needed help for mature workers willing to bring their experience and skills out of retirement.

Forget early retirement; older workers are finding new franchise opportunities in senior care.

I could have survived, but didn't know how long and deep this would go

During much of his young career, Joe Sanders had reaped the rewards of a savvy business head, strong work ethic and good fortune. Stints as a stock broker, a Proctor & Gamble salesman and furniture entrepreneur led to his most successful business venture when he was already approaching age 60. In 1997, he opened the Albuquerque branch of the network of locally owned Home Instead Senior Care® franchises, an organization whose CAREGivers(SM) provide non-medical in-home care to seniors. He launched the Santa Fe, New Mexico, franchise office several years later. Like most experienced franchise owners, early retirement was never in his plans, but eventually Joe did decide to head south.

When he sold his Home Instead Senior Care franchises and retired to Palm Springs, California, six years ago, Sanders held the prestigious title of owner emeritus, a designation based on production and quality service, and reserved only for the network’s all-time leading franchise owners.

Now, at age 71, Sanders is back. The downturn in the economy jeopardized his comfortable retirement and put his future at risk. After trying and failing to get a job that would supplement his retirement income, Sanders discovered a Home Instead Senior Care office for sale near his new home – in Mission Viejo serving southern Orange County. So he said goodbye to retirement and hello to a new retirement investment. But that’s not the only reason he’s returned to the business world. “I could have survived, but didn’t know how long and deep this would go,” Sanders said. “I was a little bored as well. I had worked for a great organization and my best friends are franchise owners.”

Returning to active business status has been a refreshing boost. “It’s been really fun for me and I find that I feel a lot better physically, being stimulated and challenged daily and out there talking to people. In the six years since I retired, it’s exciting for me to see the incredible changes that have occurred in the industry, this business and marketing in general. I am simply stunned by the power of the Internet.”

That doesn’t mean that re-entry into the business world didn’t generate apprehensions. “I did wonder if I’d gotten too old,” Sanders said. “But it’s been life-affirming to see this new business now on track to be as successful as my New Mexico offices. I still feel like I’ve got it.”

Seniors like Sanders, faced with a loss of savings and investments compounded by a tough labor market, are giving up retirement and looking for new ways to generate income. In this recession, the unemployment rate for people 55 and older hit 7.2 percent, the highest level ever recorded in the post-World War II era for workers in this age group, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That peak came in December of 2009 and remained at 7.0 with the Labor Department’s April report.

Once older workers lose or give up their jobs, the employment picture can become bleak. A recent study by the Pew Economic Policy Group, A Year or More: The High Cost of Long Term Unemployment, showed that nearly one of every three unemployed older workers has not seen a paycheck in more than a year. The report found that “once older workers become unemployed, they are more likely than younger workers to stay unemployed for a long period of time.”

The news is not all dismal, though. Some industries, like senior care, actually recruit older business owners and older workers. For instance, many Home Instead Senior Care business owners are seasoned professionals like Sanders who like to hire older workers as CAREGivers as well.

“Many older adults have life experience of caring for an elderly family member,” said Tim Connelly, director of Franchise Development for the Home Instead Senior Care network. “Combine that practical knowledge with strong business acumen that comes from a lifetime of work experiences and you’ve got the formula for a successful business opportunity that can thrive even in a recession.”

To learn more about senior care as a franchise business opportunity, register for the next one-hour Home Instead Senior Care Franchise Opportunities webinar, scheduled for June 16th at 1 p.m. Eastern Time.

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Erin Albers
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