Cleaning Old Peoples’ Feces – A Growth Industry!

Fresh out of high school I had many goals. Like most goals mine posed some challenges, with a lack of money being centre stage.

How to fund tertiary studies, eat, live and pay for it all?

I had ventured to a foreign land which enabled me to earn higher wages, but once off the plane, cold hard reality set in. I had what amounted to about 2 weeks living costs and no plan B. I felt like Greece!

Long story short I took a job looking after people, most old, some disabled and some both old and disabled. People who for whatever reason could no longer look after themselves. They needed care, and staying in their own homes was a much better solution than the alternatives.

The Job Description

The job required me to be on call 24 hours a day, and I got a weekend off once a month. I administered suppositories, cleaned soiled clothing, washed people, cleaned bed sores, cooked meals, sat patiently for hours listening to some, while others had lost their speech (its called dysphasia) so it was my turn to talk to them. I would wake through the night every few hours to turn others in their sleep (bed sores are painful and ugly).

It would have sounded like bonded slavery to most 18-year-old kids, certainly most of my former high school friends would rather have contracted syphilis than cook, feed, and clean an old woman who couldn’t remember your name each day, and who regularly soiled her clothes.

Benefits

Me… I was grateful. I’d managed to eliminate my essential living costs as food and shelter were provided. I had insufficient time off to fritter my earnings away at pubs and I could peacefully study at nights and often during part of the day (older people sleep a lot). I saved about 90% of my earnings after paying university fees and built myself a small capital base in under 1 year.

In addition to the financial benefits, I learned a lot of things in that job, compassion, humility, dealing with anger, despair, loneliness, pain, death and loss. I don’t think I could have had a better education fresh out of my schooling cubicle.

Oh Jeez Chris, what does this have to do with capitalism already?

What We Can Learn From This

In October 2007 the first American baby boomer received her social security check. There are 80 Million right behind her. Britain, Europe, Australia, Japan, they’ve all got tens of millions retiring right now. The effects of this massive demographic wave are beginning to be felt and the implications are many.

Aged care is one sector that will undoubtedly benefit from this shift. There are many ways to position yourself from this trickle that will turn into a flood. Rest homes, incontinence pads, healthcare providers, lawn bowls, funeral parlors, coffins. I’m sure you can think of a few yourself.

If we look back at history we are often surprised by the wonderful technologies that have eventuated out of a crisis.

Later this week I’ll highlight some areas that I’ve been looking at which are relevant to this discussion. In the meantime I’d be interested to know readers thoughts on how to profit from this demographic reality.

– Chris

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young” – Henry Ford

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jill
jill
10 years ago

Well put. My parents are in assisted living but fall through the cracks–many of the things they need are not provided like the listening/talking or just someone who keeps track of whether they are drinking enough water. For this reason and others, I’m looking into places in Mexico and Ecuador where they can get that 24 hour personal touch that families used to provide. It’s a growth industry that is just getting started that answers two trends–the boomers and the arbitrage of pricing. The place in Ecuador will be populated with English speakers. It opens in March. I’ll be checking it out shortly. It’s also an investment because you buy your own condo and can sell or rent using their management.

Jeff B
Jeff B
10 years ago

Chris,

Great post. I’ve been investing in companies levered to this trend for a few years. If you’re interested in candidate investments, feel free to check out Liberator Medical Holdings on the OTC market in the US. While they definitely operate in a very unsexy business (they provide catheters to customers in the US, and bill Medicare), they are putting in place a profitable recurring revenue stream, and providing a valuable service to their clients. The company is also currently trading at an attractive price and shouldn’t need to raise additional equity anytime in the near future.

Anyways, just thought I’d pass along an idea in the spirit of the post. I definitely enjoy the blog!

Jeff

Joy
Joy
10 years ago

A very apt quote by Henry Ford. Not only do people stay younger by constantly learning, they love to feel useful.
I attended our volunteers Christmas luncheon today and 46% of the 180 volunteers are over 55 years of age. Some well into their 70’s.
These are people doing Meals on Wheels, Home visits, running Seniors for Leisure Line Dancing & Tai Chi classes.
So if opportunities could be created to find reasons to ‘give’ and feel useful – perhaps working with businesses or organisations and creating some kind of profit – win win situation. Thanks for the post, it sure does make one think!