Mary Anne Hardy was at a crossroads in her nursing career. A health program she had been working for ended, and, not ready to retire, she was trying to figure out her next move.
At a conference, she heard about patient advocates, who help people, particularly the elderly and their adult children, navigate the increasingly complex American health care system.
“It was a light bulb,” said Ms. Hardy, 65, who became certified as an advocate and began taking clients in 2013. “I thought about my parents’ experience, and it was a motivator.”
In choosing her new vocation, Ms. Hardy, who lives in Derwood, Md., thought she could help others avoid the “nightmare” she had faced years earlier, she said. Her mother had a stroke and then bowel surgery, followed by a cascade of infections and other preventable ailments. She was transferred from facility to facility, with little communication among medical professionals or with her.
a study prepared for AARP by Oxford Economics, a forecasting firm. Besides their higher spending on health care, older people spent more on financial services, durable goods, nondurable goods and motor vehicles. The spending is projected to rise as the 50-plus group expands by 45 percent by 2050, compared with 13 percent for the younger group, the report said.
consultant on longevity marketing.
A writer, for example, could work with clients to create memoirs and legacy letters. A person with financial expertise could become a daily money manager, helping an older person pay bills and handle other paperwork. Move managers could use their organizational or design talents to help older people move to a smaller home.
Usually with short-term training or certification, a person could start a business delivering nonmedical services, like nutritional counseling or wellness coaching.
Midlife owners, particularly those in the health fields, may find themselves with a leg up when dealing with older clients. Several studies show that elderly people are more likely to take advice from peers on nutrition, fall prevention, and the management of diabetes and other chronic illnesses.
“I think my age does work to my advantage,” Ms. Hardy said. “It really makes a difference to have someone helping them through the process.” As a patient advocate, she helps clients prepare questions for providers, attends medical appointments with them and reviews their care options.
The key to building Sharon Emek’s business was her prominence as a top insurance executive in New York. In 2010, when she was 64, Ms. Emek founded Work at Home Vintage Experts, or WAHVE, which matches insurance companies with professionals over 50 who work remotely as independent contractors.
Two big changes in the industry convinced Ms. Emek that such a venture had potential. Young workers were snubbing insurance for jobs on Wall Street. And many experienced workers who weren’t ready to retire wanted flexible work arrangements, perhaps moving closer to the grandchildren, she said. Female professionals were particularly worried that they would outlive their savings.