Dogs, Home Care and Transportation

800px-White_dogs_on_hind_legsby Janet Simpson Benvenuti

August brings a sense of urgency to enjoy the last month of summer as the fall calendar overflows with activity. If you have completed your summer reading list, I recommend A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home, by Sue Halpern, a beautifully-written story about a mother transitioning to the empty nest who decides that her unruly dog should become certified as a therapy dog at the local nursing home. Unlike most books about elders that tend to be depressing, this one is a joyful reminder of the resilience of the old, the kindness of our four-legged companions, and the humanity we all feel as life’s major transitions touch us in our middle years.

Two disruptive transitions in our parents’ or grandparents’ lives occur when they need home care or transportation. Because services are patchwork of local and national resources, I met with several business leaders this summer including:

• Tom Furber, the new VP at Care.com. You may know that Care.com is an on-line resource for babysitters, house cleaners, pet sitters, and home care services. Tom is working on enhancing the latter and we strategized about ways to truly help families sort through and select the right home care provider. Watch for changes on their website and new television ads that to date have focused only on child care services.

• Mature Caregivers launched by Tim Driver, founder of RetirementJobs.com, is a new resource for families. While running his successful employment service, Tim noticed the opportunity to provide jobs for people 50+ as companions for seniors. Just a year underway, Mature Caregivers provides care services in Boston and Chicago, with plans for national expansion.

• Jean Patel Bushnell leads the Boston chapter of the Independent Transportation Network, a non-profit organization founded 20 years ago by Katherine Freund after her toddler was struck and nearly killed by a car driven by an 84-year old. ITN provides rides door-to-door, round the clock, including weekends, with some unique twists. Drivers can accumulate credit for their own future transportation needs, scholarships fund low-income riders, and a gift certificate program lets adult children support their parents’ rides.

You may find these resources useful.

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