Tuesday, October 06, 2015 • 07:46

Providing care and jobs for North County Seniors

Seniors Helping Seniors is a group that sets up vital seniors with seniors in need to create long-lasting friendships.
May 07, 2014
About five years ago, Kathryn Johnston was looking for something purposeful and passionate to do with her life. One day, a friend called suggesting she get involved with Seniors Helping Seniors. Johnston took her friend's advice and went through the process to determine if this was the right business opportunity.

On Jan. 1, 2013, Johnston opened the first Seniors Helping Seniors franchise in San Diego County. She is the proprietor of an in-home service provider that offers a unique approach to home care.

"We are different," said Johnston. "We're the only company that hires just seniors. I think seniors understand other seniors so they're more compassionate because they can relate. We're trying to build relationships.'

The objective of the company is active seniors who want to help others are matched with seniors needing assistance. Both provider and receiver benefit. Seniors needing care receive non-medical assistance from someone they can trust and relate to. Seniors providing the care supplement their retirement income and are rewarded by helping peers. The interaction of provider with receiver often leads to forming lasting relationships.

"I've always known that I want our lives to have purpose and a commitment to helping others. I want to use my God-given talent and energy to foster relationships with seniors, our most essential and vital community members," said Johnston.

The in-home services provided are companionship, personal grooming, meal preparation, shopping, transportation, light housekeeping, and doctor's visits. In addition, overnight stays and 24-hour care is offered as well as non-medical, post hospital recuperative care, respite care, and dementia/Alzheimer's care. Home maintenance and small repairs are services provided as well as light yard work and pet walking.

Two personal experiences led Johnston to her compassionate commitment of caring lovingly for others. She became the primary caregiver for her best friend Cyndy during the last four months of a twelve-year struggle with breast cancer. Shortly afterwards, Johnston cared for her mother during advanced stages of Alzheimer's disease.

"Between my mom and my best friend, something was telling me I was going to do this," Johnston said.

During these two personal experiences, she recalled the importance of caring for loved ones during difficult hardships.

"The value of personal, loving care is priceless," said Johnston.

The company is comprised of 45 employees. Clients vary with transitions and changes.

"Someone could have a fall and need us, and then they get better," said Johnston. "As people hear about us, we get more calls. We only hire seniors to care for other seniors, which builds a friendship because seniors relate to other seniors."

Johnston's in-home care business provides services to the entire North San Diego County. She has a skill for providing those seniors who would be a good match for others, connecting people together to form a close bond.

"When I go out on a receive call, I instantly know who to put them with because I know my employees really well," she said. "I know that if I make this connection, they're going to build a friendship. It's not going to feel like a caregiver is coming. It's going to feel like a friend is stopping by."

Phil and Kiran Yocum are the founders of the organization. Kiran grew up in India where Mother Theresa visited her Catholic school for 14 years. From India, Kiran moved to Berks County, Pennsylvania. For eight years, the Yocums were involved in the non-profit business of putting groups together. Then in 1988, the franchise was started which now consists of 200 franchises throughout the US.

The Yocums' mission is to help seniors live vital, independent lives through compassion and caring. They believe in caring for those who are unable to care for themselves.

"Providing care with compassion, understanding, and love is at the heart of Seniors Helping Seniors," said Johnston. For more information please visit www.shssandiego.com or call (760) 591-7474.

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