Sheila Ohstrom poses with one of her clients, Dorothy, who is 95 years old.
continued Ohstrom said that at first, some people need to time to adjust to her employees’ presence in their homes. But as time goes by, a friendship is almost always formed.
“It’s a hard adjustment at first for seniors to have people come into their homes that aren’t usually there,” she said. “But after a while, they become more comfortable and ask us to do anything and everything. We are their companion and their advocate in every way we can be.”
Ohstrom said the fact that all of her employees have a college degree is one thing that sets her apart from other home care providers. She started with just one employee three years ago and that number has since grown to 15.
While nursing homes are a good option for some people, Ohstrom said that many prefer to stay in their own homes as long as possible. As people continue to live longer, space in nursing homes is becoming less available. She said SHCS is vital to helping to give some seniors, who would otherwise have to live in a nursing home, an alternative.
Ohstrom is active in the Alzheimer’s community and speaks to many local groups to educate them about Alzheimer’s and safety in the home. She’s on the board of directors at the Fayetteville senior center and volunteers at the Manlius center. Ohstrom said SHCS started out strong on the East side because that’s where her connections are, but has since spread to as far as Baldwinsville, Liverpool and Clay. SHCS now provides services to anyone who lives in the greater Syracuse area, from Skaneateles to Cazenovia.
Ohstrom said the two most important things a senior can do to preserve their health are exercise and socialize- they’re both important for keeping the mind sharp.
“Socialization and exercise help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, cancer and dementia,” Ohstrom said. “They’re the two biggest things seniors can do to ward off disease and sickness. When seniors are out an about, even if they don’t talk to anyone, they’re still engaging in the people and the atmosphere.”