Beth on the cover of the Atlanta Business Chronicle

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After winning this year’s Georgia Small Business Person of the Year award, the Atlanta Business Chronicle featured the following spotlight on our CEO, Beth Cayce. Read it on ABC’s site or below.

Winning Combination

by Tonya Layman, Atlanta Business Chronicle

As a teen, Beth Cayce saw how taking care of elderly loved ones took a toll on her mother. Later in life, as Cayce was developing a career in health care, she reflected on those family struggles and decided to develop a business that could help caregivers take care of their loved ones with better knowledge and support.

“It always bugged me how hard it was on my mom to take care of my aging grandparents and I always had the thought and plan to one day help people like my mom recognize how to get help,” she said. “You never know how the burden of caregiving shortens your life. I want others to know it is OK to ask for help and honestly asking for help makes them better caregivers.”

Today she provides that help. In 1998, she created Roswell-based CaraVita Home Care. As founder and CEO, this geriatric specialist and licensed physical therapist (PT) provides professional in-home care services for metro Atlanta with the goal of keeping clients independent in their homes for as long as possible.

“I developed this company out of a personal quest to make a difference for those families caring for elderly loved ones,” Cayce said.

Her team, with a combined experience of more than 75 years in health-care management, is composed of geriatric care managers, licensed registered nurses and PTs, and professional office personnel. They work with clients to design customized care plans that enrich lives and keep loved ones aging gracefully in place, Cayce said.

“Your care plan is designed, implemented and managed by a team of senior health-care professionals with a rich knowledge base and diverse skill set,” she said.

They provide their services wherever their clients live, whether it be a private home, an independent living center or an assisted living center, and services are provided based on need, from a couple of hours a week to give primary caregivers a break to daily care.

CaraVita’s business model is heavily focused on education.

“We coach all of our caregivers and families in terms of what it will be like on the journey of caring for a loved one as they age in place. We customize our services to our families and provide them education of what they can do when we are not there,” Cayce said.

The Small Business Administration, Georgia District Office, recently presented Cayce with the Georgia Small Business Person of the Year 2013 award.

“The competition was keen, across a varied and wide array of businesses but the common denominator for all submissions is the entrepreneurial spirit to continue to grow the economy for a better tomorrow,” said Terri Denison, SBA Georgia District Office director. “CaraVita addresses the increasing need among aging baby boomers and provides support services, such as the Caregivers Academy. Beth has instilled a value-added commitment to her business model while helping those that are faced with their greatest challenges.”

The Caregivers Academy is offered to family members at no cost so they can learn the skills necessary to provide care for loved ones.

Last fall, the company was licensed by the state of Georgia to maintain an on-site certified nursing assistant school.

CaraVita offers the area’s only “smart house,” showcasing a home equipped with a number of technologies and equipment that allow seniors to remain independent longer.

“It is the environment, as well as having personal assistance, that keeps people safer in their home and improves their quality and length of life. By supporting continued independence, with Smart House technology, seniors receive automated care, monitoring and assistance maintaining a happy, healthy life at home,” Cayce said, adding the house is open to the public and many area officials and emergency service leaders have toured it to expand their knowledge bases.

CaraVita has grown from annual sales of $40,000 to 2.87 million. The company began with three full0time employees and 10 independent contractors and now has nearly 200 employees. As baby boomers enter their golden years, the company is poised for more growth.

“We are facing a silver tsunami,” Cayce said. “There is a growing epidemic of Alzheimer’s and dementia upon us as we age as well.”

In the United States, an estimated 5.4 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease, including at least 800,000 who live alone. Unless something is done to change the trajectory of the disease, as many as 16 million Americans will have Alzheimer’s by 2050. The cost of caring for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias was about $200 billion in 2012 and is projected to increase to $1.1 trillion per year, in today’s dollars, by mid-century, Cayce said.

“Georgia alone with have a 45 percent increase by 2025,” she said. “We are not equipped as a community unless we are better educated and given quality care resources for this tsunami. My vision is to help our community embrace aging in place rather than dread the effects of aging.”

According to an Atlanta Regional Commission report, “The Graying of Atlanta” in 2010, baby boomers, those age 45-64, made up 25 percent of the 20-county region that surrounds the metro Atlanta area. The region’s older adult population, those 65 and older, doubled between 1970 and 200 and will double again between 2000 and 2015. By 2030, one in five metro Atlanta residents will be over age 60.

According to the 2010 Census, there were more than 1.3 million baby boomers in the region, an increase of almost 50 percent since 2000. The 65-and-older age group was the second-fastest-growing segment, increasing by 45 percent since 2000.

“With advancing age comes a greater likelihood that an older adult will have chronic illnesses, impaired mobility and limited ability to perform the normal activities of daily living, such as bathing and dressing oneself,” said Yvonne Eaves, associate professor at the WellStar School of Nursing at Kennesaw State University. “For these reasons, older adults become dependent on family and formal caregivers for care.

“Compounding these health and care issues are shorter lengths of hospital stays. Thus, after hospitalization for an acute illness or exacerbation of a chronic illness, older adults often transition into home health care.”

The latest statistics from the National Association for Home Care and Hospice show that 68.7 percent of home health care recipients are over age 65, and that Medicare is the largest single payer of home care services.

A recent AARP research survey found that 90 percent of adults over age 65 desired to remain in their homes for as long as possible, and 60 percent believed that they would always live in their current residences.

“Obviously, the desire to age in place is stronger than the preference for institutionalization as only 2-percent of older adults age 65 to 84 live in nursing homes. Thus, the demands for in-home services will most likely drive continued growth in the home health care industry for years, if not decades to come,” Eaves said.

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