DeWitt As the baby boomer generation pushes into retirement, the need for long term care has become more critical each year. An estimated 10 million Americans needed long term care in 2000, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance, and that number has continued to rise as the years progress. And Ian and Michele Webber wanted to help local families who need extra assistance caring for a parent or loved one, which is why they decided to open a Comfort Keepers franchise in 2004.
“I had never cared for my grandparents or anything like that, so I didn’t understand that there was really a need for this,” Ian said. “One of my friends started a Comfort Keepers in Arizona, and I went down to spend a week with him. While I was there, I went in as a companion for a couple days with his clients, got to know three of them and came to understand that there are people out there that really need these kinds of services.”
The Webbers’ Comfort Keepers began as a home companion service for elderly people who did not want to leave their homes to go live in a nursing home, but needed help carrying out basic tasks, like housekeeping or meal preparation, or just wanted someone to talk to.
“It’s all about independence. If you say ‘nursing home’ to a lot of these people, they think, ‘I’m old, I can’t do anything for myself and I’m going to die,’” Michele said. “But it doesn’t have to be that way. The goal of us being in someone’s home is to preserve as much of their independence, dignity and integrity as we can.”
And in 2007, they became licensed by New York state, which allowed them to expand Comfort Keepers to also provide personal, “hands-on” care to clients.