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Seniors Helping Seniors combines care with compassion

December 14, 2018

Rita Bruce said she decided to seek out a different at-home senior care service after observing video of caregivers’ neglectful behaviors toward her mother-in-law, Jean Bruce, and late father, Robert Bruce.

Rita Bruce cited multiple incidences caregivers refusing to socialize and roughly handling her father while he was bedridden.

“You knew they needed a job,” Rita Bruce said. “They were younger, they didn’t have patience with older people and had not grown old themselves. As we age, we understand our own difficulties of things we have going on.”

Bruce came across an alternative senior at-home care service that pairs clients with a caregiver closer in age to aid with the senior’s daily activities like housekeeping, meal preparation and pet care, while also providing companionship.

Mary Moore became a franchisee of the service, called Seniors Helping Seniors, and launched a location in northwest Houston.

Prior to starting her business, she worked in the at-home care industry part-time after her family moved to Houston from Cape Town, South Africa.

“The process of immigration when you do it legally is quite complicated, so I couldn’t work so I left my career and everything behind,” Moore said. “I started doing it twice a week for three hours. I would cook, do their laundry, change their linen. I was what they needed.”

After a trip back to South Africa to aid her parents-in-law, Moore realized how much help they needed although she and her husband, co-owner Bruce Moore, were not living there. While flying home, Moore found an advertisement for Seniors Helping Seniors.

Seniors Helping Seniors was founded by Kiran Yocom, who was disappointed by the senior care in the United States after moving from India. Moore researched the origins of the business and began her own franchise in 2017.

Caretakers who are seniors themselves may be better equipped to relate to clients through experience due to the closeness in age, Moore said. The caregivers do not perform medical services, do not receive benefits and work part-time.

“It’s giving back,” she said. “It has no benefits and it pays part-time. That’s why the senior model is perfect. These are people who want to supplement an income they have already from retirement.”

Both Jean Bruce and Rita Bruce agreed Seniors Helping Seniors was greater quality than most of their previous caregivers. Seniors Helping Seniors caregivers cook and clean for Jean Bruce as well as feed her cat and help her bathe. At times, the caregivers will watch sports and television with her, Jean Bruce said.

Caregivers JoAnne Moudik and Melinda Gover said Jean Bruce is more of a friend to them than a client.

“I thoroughly enjoy it,” Gover said. “I just think of her as my friend now. I always thought I’d like to this when I had the time, and I have the time now. It’s fun for me.”

Moudik, a retired nurse, said she joined Seniors Helping Seniors before knowing she would be paid for her service. Although Moudik has experience as a nurse, Moore said caregivers do not need prior experience in a similar field.

As the business expands, Moore hopes to reach families in need of help for their elders and seniors looking to make a difference in the life of a peer.

“You come with life experience, you come with management of hazards like family and work,” she said. “You don’t have to teach them work ethic, you don’t have to teach them to not sit on their phones while working. They’re doing it because they want to do it, not because they have to.”

chevall.pryce@chron.com

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