Elk Grove Mother and son open senior care business to address the county’s aging population concerns
Elk Grove businesswoman Rachael Hoskins began addressing senior hunger and isolation as a volunteer in 1994 – to fight her own ageist prejudice, she said. After her father died of lung cancer, Hoskins felt resentment, even rage, toward a group that to her appeared passive and unappreciative of life.
For nearly a decade, Hoskins walked the streets of Southern and later Northern California with her toddler son Jesse, giving out meals and resources, and learning to empathize with older adults abandoned in the streets or neglected in housing facilities.
She had just enrolled at Sacramento State in 2008 to learn more about the needs of the growing senior population, when she said life taught her a lesson instead. This week, while Hoskins prepared for the opening of her first mother-son elderly care business Hoskins Geriatric Care Management, her eyes reddened as she recalled the 30 days she and her son spent penniless and homeless that year, experiencing the helplessness that vulnerable seniors live with day to day.
The Hoskinses got back on their feet through community support and friend-referred resources. Over a decade later, their new family business will focus on providing that same service to the growing population of seniors in Sacramento County, reinforcing their dignity, independence, and quality of life.
This mother-son enterprise is a comprehensive resource for seniors in Sacramento County and beyond, providing free housing placement consultations and affordable care management services, including home safety checks, caregiver training, dementia awareness initiatives, non-medical therapy services and support group facilitation, Hoskins said.
On Tuesday, Jesse and Rachael Hoskins celebrated the beginning of this enterprise with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce. A dozen local business owners and chamber board members attended the event to express their support.
“(The business) is going to a huge benefit to the elderly community here in Elk Grove,” chamber President and CEO Angela Perry said. “I think it really is much needed and has a great place in the community,” said another attendee, local businessman and chamber ambassador Doug McDavid.
Hoskins and her son began setting up the business in October 2018, but she said the initiative originated in her volunteer work with Meals on Wheels senior nutrition programs across the state.
Long before they began thinking about a business, Hoskins was already the point person to friends and family for references concerning elderly care. “Most people refer me to anything age-related,” she said. “They just know: ‘Rachael can help!’“
The Hoskinses said they now visit their clients multiple times each week, meet the caregivers and administrators of their retirement facilities, and stay in touch with their appointed medical staff. “We make meticulous notes,” Hoskins said. “We’ll even bring our computer in so they can Skype with their family to prevent depression and isolation.”
Sacramento is not an age-friendly county yet, according to Hoskins. “There’s 10,000 people a day in our country turning 65,” she said, “and there are certain places in Sacramento County with no sidewalks, restaurants, and board and cares that are large enough to fit wheelchairs or walkers... we don’t have affordable housing (and) there are people that are just living off Social Security.”
Initiatives at the state and county level are in progress, and in Elk Grove, new senior complexes are opening almost every month, according to local businesswoman Janet Kleyn, who participated in Tuesday’s ceremony.
But Hoskins says there is still a long way to go and time is running short. By 2030, there will be more seniors than children in Sacramento County, according to state predictions. And this year’s census data confirmed the increase in senior citizens is steady, recording a rise of 36 percent since 2010.
After several years of experience knocking on retirement home doors and feeding homeless seniors, Hoskins said she sees the need now more than ever to be supportive of the hundreds of older men, women and veterans that are neglected and cast aside in Sacramento communities.
The Hoskinses said they determined to make an impact, and they ask that community members help them fight ageist stigmas and uphold the dignity of senior citizens. “Hope starts with someone saying: ‘I care and I’m going to give you some options,’” Rachael Hoskins said.