Alexander Moore Of Yümicare On 5 Things You Should Do To Optimize Wellness After Retirement
An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Begin and end your day with a purposeful routine. Routines help give people a sense of stability and structure, which becomes more important during retirement.
As a part of my series about the “5 Things You Should Do to Optimize Your Wellness After Retirement” I had the pleasure of interviewing Alexander Moore.
Alexander (Alex) Moore is the CEO & Co-Founder of Yümicare (you-me care), a Jacksonville-based digital marketplace which specializes in helping seniors and their families find trained local caregivers. He has 20+ years of healthcare system experience, working for local organizations like Florida Blue health solutions, Guidewell Connect and Brooks Rehabilitation. Alex received his master’s degree from the University of North Florida in healthcare administration & management, and he’s a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS). He has also volunteered with the Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development (SHSMD) for over eight years.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
According to AARP, 80% of people prefer to avoid facilities and age comfortably in their home. But every day in the U.S. 10,000 people turn 65, which will more than double over the next several decades to top 88M people and represent over 20% of the population by 2050. More people than ever will need help in their home.
I witnessed this struggle firsthand when I saw my parents trying to find a private caregiver for my 95 year old grandmother a few years ago. They couldn’t find a caregiving option they were happy with so brought her to live with them. So, the idea for Yümicare was born. I wanted to create a platform that could offer a truly differentiated experience for both caregivers and families.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
We recently learned one of our customers, Dores, saw her neurology / memory scores improve after spending time with her caregiver, Alfreda. Importantly, Yümicare caregivers are trained to prioritize independence and help seniors do tasks together if they can vs. for them, which can help with cognitive function. You can see Dores and Alfreda’s story here.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
Years ago I reached out to a friend who did a lot of work for physician lobbying. I was interested in learning more about Direct Primary Care. He was gracious enough to introduce me to a prominent name in the DPC field. We arranged to have a call on a Saturday morning. The only problem was, it was the same Saturday that my wife was running her very first half marathon. I was in charge of watching the children while she ran the race. In all of the chaos I missed the call. It was not a good feeling. Since that time no matter who it is, I always try to be on time. It’s a matter of respect.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are so many people who have helped me become who I am today, but the person who stands out the most is my wife. She’s one of those people who truly does it all. She’s at the top of her game in her career, makes our house a home, and ensures that we have stability in our lives. If you look at how much work goes into a startup, her career, and raising our two children — our lives should be chaotic, but she truly brings balance to our home. She supports me, inspires me, and is always there to provide an objective opinion on things. I absolutely would not be as successful as I am today without her.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
I’m an avid runner, and some days it’s hard to find the motivation to get out and hit the streets. But if you’re committed, you do it anyway. you just take one foot and put it in front of the other.
Similar to running a startup, it’s not about how fast you go or how you feel, but about putting work in consistently. Doing something challenging takes time and persistence, and it becomes infinitely worth it if you keep going despite the hardship, and eventually you will get there. It’s a marathon.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Give your employees flexibility if you can, and it will help retention.
For example, at Yümicare we offer caregivers a gig-based community that allows them to book appointments in close proximity and on their own time. Traditional caregivers are contracted out to seniors for a minimum of about 8 hours, and some caregivers have to drive long distances to and from appointments. But we try to make smart matches between our caregivers and seniors so it’s convenient for both parties. We also match our clients and caregivers so they can build a relationship and be paired on a routine basis vs. the traditional model where a senior may be paired with a different caregiver each time.
Our caregivers also earn 60% more than market doing what they love and get paid immediately vs. the traditional model of every two weeks.
The industry standard caregiver retention rate is 31%, but Yümicare’s is 77% and growing. It seems we’re doing something right!
From your point of view or experience, what are a few of the reasons that retirement can reduce one’s health?
Retirement is a total shift in mindset. People go from working 40+ hours a week and raising a family to a lack of daily structure and the sense that friends and family members are “moving on” without them almost overnight. A few reasons why people struggle during retirement:
- Loneliness. According to the CDC, 1 in 4 seniors over the age of 65 are considered to be socially isolated, a term coined before that of COVID-era social distancing. Social isolation (just as with social distancing) increases the risk of disordered sleep, intrusive thoughts, and a variety of other mental and physical conditions.
- The word, retirement. I know this might sound confusing at first, but many people miss the “hustle and bustle” and sense of accomplishment that comes with working in a traditional work environment. Retirement often means elderly people find themselves living an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, which can double the risk of cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and diabetes.
- Depression. About 1 in 4 retirees are depressed, according to a 2020 study by PMC. The lack of structure people face during retirement can lead to intense feelings of resentment, hopelessness, and confusion as seniors struggle to navigate new lifestyles, friends, and families.
Can you share with our readers 5 things that one should do to optimize mental or physical wellness after retirement? Please share a story or an example for each.
There are so many ways to create a fun and purposeful retirement. To optimize mental and physical health during retirement, I recommend you:
- Make a plan. Set goals on what you want out of retirement and how you want to maximize your golden years. Having a good attitude about what it means to grow older can unlock your potential to grow and learn during the latter part of your life. Becca Levy, a professor at the Yale School of Public Health, even found that a good attitude about aging could extend one’s lifespan by 7.5 years.
- Begin and end your day with a purposeful routine. Routines help give people a sense of stability and structure, which becomes more important during retirement.
- Plan for 7–8 hours of sleep. Sleep is very important, and it can be easy during retirement to fall into the trap of staying up late because you don’t have work in the morning. However, a disruptive sleep schedule can lead to insomnia and a host of downstream health issues.
- Make a plan to do things with other people several times a week. Humans are inherently social creatures, and socialization has innumerable benefits from increased cognitive skills to a greater sense of well-being. As we age, mobility, transportation, and health issues can impact our ability to socialize. Using third-party apps like FaceTime and Zoom or planning in-person events ahead of time can help combat these barriers to social interaction.
- Exercise daily. According to the CDC, adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week, and those aged 65 years or older should also introduce activities to improve balance. By doing so, you can help reduce chronic conditions such as arthritis and improve flexibility and joint mobility.
In your experience, what are 3 or 4 things that people wish someone told them before they retired?
We often don’t recognize that retirement lasts for around 20 years on average. These are transformative years where we can learn new things, try different hobbies, and enrich relationships with family and friends. Before going into retirement, I wish people knew:
- Retirement isn’t the end. Due to medical technology and increased quality of living, the life expectancy at 65 is now 19.6 years, according to the CDC. Retirement can feel like the end of a career journey for many, and it’s daunting to enter a new phase of life without direction, routine, or the traditional “9–5” feel. So, it’s important to view retirement as the start of a new chapter — instead of the close of another. These are years that you can accomplish so much in, and it’s important to view them as such.
- It is okay to ask for help. The concept of getting support from others often comes with a negative connotation. But it’s easy to forget we are all interdependent, and we all need support. Accepting assistance as we age presents challenges for both the aging person and their support system. According to Dr. Bill Thomas, a physician, professor, entrepreneur, playwright, and performer whose work explores the terrain of human aging, it’s time to shift the mindset from a deteriorating and declining view to one of support and reverence for an aging population.
- Find support that fits your unique needs. Caregiving is not a one size fits all solution. While some retirees might need caregivers to help buy groceries, others might want a companion or someone to help them with daily exercises. At Yümicare, we match caregivers with retirees based on their unique needs. An Aging in Place Specialist helps you build a detailed profile, then the Yümicare algorithm matches you to a caregiver by proximity, availability, specialization and psychosocial characteristics.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
I love adventure stories, especially ones from the mid to early 1900s Explorers Club. Thor Heyerdahl, Sir Edmund Hillary, and Ernest Shackleton had a huge influence on me growing up. The courage it took for them to explore the unknown is unimaginable.
Thor Heyerdahl was a member of a small WWI veterans group who built a raft and sailed from the South American coast all the way to Tahiti with nothing more than a radio and a video camera. Sir Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first duo to summit Everest in 1953. However, my favorite adventure story was always that of Ernest Shackleton. Shackleton’s account of his ill-fated Antarctic expedition details true leadership and grit after he was forced to lead his crew through a 600-mile trek to safe land after his ship was crushed by ice. Shackleton was able to generate hope when there should have been none.
I use lessons from these stories — around courage, resilience and resourcefulness — every day of my life.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would love to see more families and seniors find safety, security, and general help through our platform. I know first-hand how difficult it can be to watch a loved one get older and start to struggle. My mission is to help as many people as possible with our services and hopefully grow to different parts of the country where we can do even more good.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
I avoided reading Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People for the longest time. Before I picked it up, it seemed like a trite book filled with cute witticisms. But I finally did give it a try, and it really changed me. The quote that stands out to me the most is, “be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise, and people will cherish your words and repeat them for a lifetime.” Carnegie knew that abilities and motivation “wither” under criticism and blossom under praise. I took that to heart and keep it with me every day, utilizing positive reinforcement and uplifting messages with my team.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
I would get a kick out of eating lunch with Chris Voss, author of Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended. I found his book to be so relevant in every aspect of my life. From parenting, to marriage, to owning my own business — it’s all a negotiation.
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Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!