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New franchise connects retirees with seniors in need of assistance

Photo provided by staff
Thursday, May 1, 2014 - 7:00am

The elderly population in Louisiana is growing, and there is a need for more services geared towards them. Some seniors will need help, while others will need things to do after they retire.

A new company offers something for both groups.

"The concept was just fantastic," Garry Furlough recalled. "It was like, 'wow! Why didn't anybody else think of this?'"

Furlough and his wife, Melanie, discovered Seniors Helping Seniors in an airline magazine last year. Melanie Furlough is a gerontologist, so they researched the company and opened a franchise, the first in Louisiana, in February.

Seniors Helping Seniors does not provide medical care. Instead, it fills in the gaps for people in Baton Rouge, Denham Springs, Prairieville, and Gonzales who do not have a support system.

"Transportation to and from the doctor's office, taking them to the grocery store," Garry Furlough mentioned. "We have one client that we, we actually just go to the nursing home. She wants to go out and have dinner, or go to church every once in a while. We take her to do that."

The local franchise has ten employees, called providers. And just like the clients (receivers), they are also older.

"We have all types of providers," Furlough said. "I mean, some that were ex-military, law enforcement, accountants. They come from all walks of life. But they all have the same, they all share a common theme: they all care about what they're doing, they care about people."

The providers are generally in their 50's, but some are much older than that. Furlough referred to one man who works for a franchise in the northeast who is 90 years old.

"He actually drives some of his church members to church every weekend," Furlough stated. "That is his job, and he does a good job of it."

Furlough believes there can be a disconnect between caretaker and client when the caretaker does not understand what the client has been through. That is infrequently the case when the provider and client are similarly aged.

"They relate with them, and that's what Seniors Helping Seniors is all about," Furlough said, "relating with your customer, relating with that Receiver, and building a bond. It's like getting a little help from a friend."

Right now, there are approximately 50,000 people in East Baton Rouge Parish over the age of 65. That number is projected to grow to 80,000 by the year 2030.

State Rep. Joe Harrison has introduced two bills which could improve resources for the elderly in Louisiana. One would create a state Department of Elderly Affairs, and the other would increase funding for parish Councils on Aging. Both are scheduled to be heard in the House Committee on Appropriations on May 5.

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