Many clients ask, “How did you get started in your thirty year career?” Here is how it began:
My mother was my best friend and mentor, an angel. Every Saturday morning in the summer, we would go to the farmer’s market to pick up fresh produce, dairy products and meats from local farms. The stands were all owned and run by the Amish, Mennonite and Brethren ladies. My favorite treat was a chocolate cake ball covered with white icing and loads of coconut… yum, yum!
One day my mother, who was a college professor in my hometown of York, Pennsylvania, turned to me and said, “Don’t these ladies ages gracefully? Their families take such good care of them. Some of them are over 100 years old and still working.” That started my mother’s “wheels turning” and was the beginning of our adventure. The next month, she announced that instead of teaching psychology, she was going to be a pioneer, starting a degree program in Gerontology, the study of aging. If these cultures can take care of their seniors in a kind and respectful manner, I can teach the methods to students and change the lives of other elders. I was hanging on her coat tails because I knew it would be fun. It took her 2 1/2 years to get an accredited program listed in the class catalog. There was only one major problem…18 year olds were not interested in learning about “old people.” I ended up being her first student. We traveled worldwide to learn about the care and treatment of the aging population in other cultures.
During our international travels to observe the latest trends in how the older population is cared for, Mom mentioned the need for a senior housing referral company to navigate children through the fears of moving a loved one to a retirement community. In 2009, I founded Housing Options for Seniors, per her suggestion. She gleamed the idea of consulting, coaching, being an author for me.
While in England, my mother suggested that I investigate becoming an author, family coach, family consultant and guide for personal care home and senior housing. It took me years to start each element, but my mother would be proud.
I went on to earn my MS in Gerontology and later a certificate in the same. I have always been very grateful that Mom guided me in my life log passion to help adult children of aging parents find safety and comfort for their loved one. My mother, I inform you with much sorrow, passed away in 1990. I think of her every day and am grateful for her wisdom. She was brilliant and a pioneer in Gerontology.
Call Karen Owen-Lee, “The Senior Expert,”
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