Taking care of a loved one requires one to possess solid time management techniques, know how to deal with different types of people, effectively cope with stress, and be able to handle the unexpected.
Incidentally, these are also essential skills for would-be entrepreneurs.
Perhaps that’s why people caring for aging or ill family members sometimes find re-birth in the world of business.
These passionate phoenixes have transformed themselves, using their experiences to fan the flames of new ventures aimed at helping the legions of family caregivers.
Giving Alzheimer’s a voice
Lori La Bey describes how caring for her aging parents led to the idea that gradually ignited her entrepreneurial spirit.
Soon after taking on the responsibilities of caring for her parents, who were diagnosed with two separate ailments in rapid succession—brain cancer for her father and dementia for her mother—La Bey fell into the common caregiver patterns of perfectionism, guilt and self-imposed separation from the rest of the world. “I felt so isolated, thinking I was supposed to know all the answers,” she says.
It was these emotions that compelled La Bey to create “Alzheimer’s Speaks,” a company dedicated to changing the way people view dementia care.
Under the overarching umbrella of Alzheimer’s Speaks, La Bey conducts speaking and training seminars geared towards teaching caregivers and seniors struggling with dementia.
She’s also created a website meant to serve as an aid for these caregivers, connecting them with educational resources like, “Dementia Chat”—a bi-monthly webinar series that interviews people with early-stage memory loss to help caregivers get a better sense of what these individuals are going through. ( Alzheimer’s patients share their experiences dealing with the disease.)
La Bey’s ultimate goal is to get more people talking about dementia. She feels that open discussion and candid dialogue are the keys to removing the stigma of dementia and improving the culture of elder care.
Caregiving and starting a business have taught La Bey many things. But ultimately, one lesson stands out more than any other: “Perfection doesn’t matter, and it doesn’t exist,” she says. More than anything else, this revelation allowed La Bey to let go, learn from her mistakes, and live to fight (and care) another day.
Continue reading to meet Jenn and Cindy, two women putting the joy back into caregiving…