Part of the Encore Story Project Series
Written by Tory Wilgar, Encore Story Reporter
Arlene Grosso, Age 70!
…And she did!
In 2015, Arlene’s mom passed away at the age of 100 years. For 2 ½ years Arlene had been travelling back and forth from St. Pete to Chicago while her mom’s dementia consistently got worse. Sometimes she would stay for a month. She really wasn’t able to continue working because she wouldn’t have made a very good employee. Even though she was a realtor at the time, it wouldn’t have been fair to her clients to pass them off to other people.
She didn’t do much of anything except look after her mother.
When the end was near for her mom, Arlene knew she had to start thinking about how she was going to recoup all the savings she’d gone through.
“Encore and AARP Programs really brought me to a place where I believed I could start my own business.”
Through an internet search, she discovered the Encore Career Program, “How to make a Living and Difference in the Second Half of Life.” It was exactly what Arlene was looking for. Before the program commenced there were a bunch of vendors available whose services complimented the Encore program. AARP was offering a “Life Re-Imagined Program”. Marci was so energetic about the program, Arlene registered on the spot. It sounded like the perfect environment, a classroom without distractions.
“Through the Life Re-Imagined program I was able to focus on the things I loved to do throughout my life, but was no longer doing.”
Thanks to the in-depth program, she was able to identify her true passion for construction and link it with purpose, helping elderly people stay in their homes as long as possible. This opportunity crystalized by reflecting on her mom’s “not so great” experience.
When her mother was moved from her Assisted Living Center to the Health Center, her condition rapidly declined.
“If she (my mom) had been left in the environment she was most comfortable; she would have been happier and her disease wouldn’t have made her so anxious.”
When Arlene started to investigate Home Health Care Agencies, she couldn’t find anyone who was providing both equipment installation (vehicle lifts, platform lifts, etc.) and construction (building ramps, widening doorways…). She wondered, could she create this herself?
Arlene signed up for the AARP Caregiver Accelerator Course to help pre-determine whether she had a viable idea. This course was invaluable, offering the tools and support she needed to sit down and write a plan.
“I met people that had a big impact on my life.”
At age 70, Arlene and her daughter, Denise, went through the CAPS (Certified Aging in Place) certification courses through the NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) to get their professional designations. They completed certification classes for several manufacturers of Mobility & Accessibility Equipment to become Certified Dealers of equipment.
“The most vulnerable group of people are those with physical challenges, people that are aging.”
In February 2016, she and her daughter formed a corporation; Mother Daughter Enterprises of Florida provides access and design concepts to facilitate the graceful aging of the senior population in their own homes. Within 5 years, Arlene hopes to franchise the business and move it across the nation. In her “free time” you can find Arlene volunteering for AARP.
“Don’t get discouraged and don’t listen to other people. Listen to your heart and do what it tells you to do. ”