How often can we baby boomers start a sentence these days with the phrase, “We’re at an age, now …?” Well, that’s what got Thomas Stern into the business he’s in, which combines some of the obligations of our generation, with its aspirations.
For many of us Boomers, quality of life is, in part, determined by the ability to travel. The sights and smells of new lands as well as the comfort of well-known haunts are what many of us dream of as retirement nears. However, many Boomers do not anticipate the large role that caregiving for a loved-one will play in our lives at the precise moment that we finally have time to enjoy the fruits of our labor. We spend significant time caring for a spouse or parent and might even have personal health conditions arise that hamper the ability to travel.
I cared full-time for two of my grandparents who had Alzheimer’s disease. I was in my mid-twenties at the time and I attended nursing school to improve my caregiving skills. After my grandparents passed, I earned a Master of Health Care Management degree and set about finding a way to improve the quality of life for caregivers. My efforts resulted in the foundation of AssistedVacation.com.
My first customers? Sandra and Dennis, who were enjoying early retirement after successful engineering careers. They traveled to Kenya on safari, went on an Amazon cruise, and took several trips to Europe for genealogical research. One evening, Dennis suffered a fall and a hip fracture when an automatic van door malfunctioned. Numerous medical issues followed and more than a year passed without relief. Sandra and Dennis contacted me when their children told them they were planning a family reunion at the beach. They were determined to go.
I met them at their house early in the morning and we loaded their van with an electric wheelchair, numerous oxygen tanks, and a stack of presents for their young grandkids. The drive to the shore was uneventful until a holiday traffic jam made a restroom break imperative, yet impractical. The situation was handled with muscle, a walker, a rain poncho for modesty, and a bit of grace. The excitement of holiday permeated the van along with the smell of salt at the first sight of the Atlantic.
Over the course of two weeks, I got to know Sandra and Dennis very well and my daily routine involved personal care and medication management, but also sharing stories from my life. We bonded over fresh seafood every night and with some help in the kitchen, Dennis was able to produce his patented key lime pies, which will be the benchmark from which I judge all others.
My wife Laura and I now operate the company from our home in Nice, France. When clients like Sandra and Dennis contact us, we learn exactly what type of holiday they envision, what kind of support they require, and we craft a custom vacation. We have great team members throughout North America and Europe, so we are able serve clients to and from nearly any destination. Our focus is on the quality of life of our clients, and we get as much satisfaction as they do.
Thomas Stern and his family live in Nice, France.