Need a Job? Try Becoming a 'Granny Nanny'

Jane Wells

Published: 3/7/2013

Need a job? Take care of Grandma. Not yours. Someone else's. 

The U.S. Census Bureau reports there are 40 million Americans ages 65 or older, and nearly 10 million are at least 85 years old—the so-called "oldest old." We are living longer, and increasingly Americans have long term care insurance or some other means of paying for care in their own homes.

"The senior care industry, just for senior home care, has grown more than 40 percent in the last five years," said Julie Northcutt, CEO of Caregiverlist.com, which tracks the market. "Everything predicts care is going to continue to move to the home."

She said there are almost 11,000 senior care agencies in the U.S., with 1,000 of them created in 2012 alone.

Cydney Kaplan, a former reality television producer who has a degree in therapeutic recreation, launched Independent Living Concierge in Los Angeles last summer. She rents out her services to high-end senior citizens for $60 an hour.

"I'm a Girl Friday, a rent-a-daughter, or a granny nanny for seniors and their families," she said. "A lot of seniors have dignity issues, where they don't want to be seen with a caregiver. They want to be seen with someone that's a professional and looks like a member of the family." 

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One of her clients is 92-year-old Dorothy Sabel, who lives in an assisted living facility. The spry retired real estate agent hired Kaplan to regularly take her shopping, see a movie, or go to the salon. "You have to go out once in a while," Sabel said. "Cydney does that for me ... she does more than my relatives do for me, because they're so busy."

Jack Fackrell also saw an opportunity. He was working in sales in the trucking business when he saw a neighbor in the senior care industry. He then co-founded Alta Home care, a full service caregiver company

"A lot of the nation's wealth is tied up in the seniors," he said. Ten years later, Alta now has about 600 clients in California and Louisiana, where it just acquired a smaller company.

"This year we'll do about $15 million (in revenues)," Fackrell said.

He is hiring 15 to 20 people a week, but most applicants are rejected. "The hardest part is finding good people."

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This work can be challenging, and the pay averages $10 an hour. Fackrell said he has tried to make the business more professional. His head of human resources is a former Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff whose job is to filter out those not right for this career.

New hires in an Alta training session learn things like how to remove colostomy bags. "Watch your facial expressions," the nurse instructor told the class. "If you have this, 'Oh my God, this is disgusting' expression on your face, you're going to make the patient feel very bad about themselves."