how I got started | I worked as a credit analyst in banking
before I left to do one-on-one computer consulting.
One client - a very sharp elderly man--initially asked me to help him
learn Quicken to track his philanthropic contributions. It soon became
clear that he really preferred having someone actually do the work for
him. I started coming once a week to help straighten out his records. As
he aged, his paperwork grew and his capacity to handle it diminished.
He hired me on a regular basis to keep track of everything. Then he
began to recommend me to other friends, who were generally wealthy
seniors, had lots of disposable income, and were struggling to organize
all the chores that go with being a senior. I'm now very knowledgeable
about Medicare, secondary insurance, medical record keeping and all
kinds of related areas. As word spread about my availability, the number
of clients and the scope of work I was doing for them expanded. Now, my
responsibilities seem to evolve on a daily basis.
why this job?| I love working with older people. My clients are
delightful, eclectic people who've lived fascinating lives. They're
still vital, vibrant and intellectually curious. One was an attorney who
argued his case before the Supreme Court. Their minds still work as
quickly as ever, but their bodies don't always keep up.
why I love this job!| This job is about daily acts of kindness. I
can make a difference in peoples' lives simply by reducing the
unbelievable stress that paperwork causes. My clients are incredibly
grateful for the help, and they are generous in referring me to others.
Plus, its so lovely to be a sole proprietor. As a mother of three kids,
it makes my life far more manageable and allows me to be available when
I'm needed. For example, when there was a blackout and my family was
stuck in a hotel a few days, I was easily able to reschedule
appointments. It was no problem.
my typical day| I usually see two clients in the morning,
spending a few hours sorting through their mail, separating the junk
from the bills, tracking their expenditures. Many of them are very
philanthropic. They tend to donate to whatever cause asks for money, and
they often give more than once because they forget about previous
contributions. One client wrote a check each time he got a request,
doubling and tripling donations to the same charity. I helped him create
a spreadsheet to track his contributions and regain control. I
carefully go through their checking accounts, credit card bills,
donations - everything.
Most clients prefer having me come once or twice a week. Occasionally I
have a one-off client, like the university professor who hires me every
six to eight weeks when his desk becomes overwhelming. I regularly
organize his projects, set up filing systems, pull out, check and pay
the unpaid bills and stay on top of things.
I try to keep the late afternoons free to be available to my three kids.
Because I set all my appointments myself, its easy to do that.
what they are | Going to a doctor can generate seven or eight
sets of bills. Since my clients are terrified of leaving a bad credit
score behind for their children or relatives, they tend to pay every
bill immediately. That can leave them open to potential abuse.
Sometimes, they mistakenly cover a medical expense that is reimbursable
by Medicare. I double-check and get a refund if there's an extra
payment, or I examine the secondary insurance. If there's an extra bill,
I call the doctor and get a refund. For people who automatically - and,
sometimes, unthinkingly - pay bills in full, I act as a buffer between
their money and those who might be too quick to send those bills.
Some of my biggest challenges involve the seniors' families; sharing
information and coordinating schedules. When you do this kind of work,
you walk into family history that existed long before you arrived.
Thankfully, when someone is not a relative, occasional crankiness or
difficulty doesn't matter. You can see the behavior as wacky or
amusing, not as a personal threat. And when an older person loses her
temper, you understand what it is really about; frustration with a
slower body or brain, not a personal attack.
all about growth | There are times when I feel like part of the
family. I know that my presence makes a difference. For example, I was
helping a couple where the husband was struggling but the wife was
younger and more vibrant. Suddenly, she became sick and died within four
months. I gently guided the family through the funeral process, and
helped with all the events and paperwork connected with it. I learned so
much in the process, from finding ways to transfer airlines miles to
getting and distributing the right official documents to the right
people. It saved the family time and anguish.