CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Now six days into his four-month journey to bring awareness to the issues seniors face throughout the country, a San Antonio man is hoping his trek will not only raise money for senior assistance, but inspire others to join the field.
That journey is part of his company’s “Close the Gap in Senior Care” movement.
“We’re focusing first and foremost on the gap that we see in senior safety and fall prevention,” said Jeff Salter, founder and CEO of Caring Senior Service, a franchise of locations around the country that work to provide seniors with assistance in everyday tasks at their homes.
The company was founded in 1991 with their first location in Odessa. Today, it has a total of 45 locations. Of the 14 in Texas — one of which is in Corpus Christi.
“I actually didn’t come into caregiving as a person who had a personal experience, but I did have exposure to the need of seniors and I knew that I could solve some problems for people that I knew,” Salter said. “I was able to help coordinate caregivers to the seniors and before I knew it — more and more people were requesting my help and a business was born.”
Coming out of McAllen, Salter’s 9,000-mile venture made it’s second stop in Corpus Christi. An expo highlighting the event was held outside at the Art Center. He said the name “Close the Gap” is important.
“When you’re cycling in a race, you want to work together as a pack, stay as a group, and if you close the gap between riders, you can go faster, you can go farther with less energy,” he said. “What we’re trying to do, is pull together all of our communities to recognize the needs of seniors and help us each work together to close that gaps that we all see.”
Salter has been using an electric bicycle. He said that speaks to the message he’s working to promote.
“With the electric motor, I’m able to have a little bit of help going up hills, can go a little bit faster then I would with peddling on a regular bike, and it really symbolizes what we do as a company — with a little bit of help, a senior can remain at home and independent,” Salter said. “It doesn’t always mean help from Caring Senior Service, doesn’t mean help from a senior care business, but it can be something like installing a grab bar, a little bit of help with family — a number things that people can do. Small things that someone can do to allow someone to stay at home and remain independent.”
The back of the trailer connected to Salter’s bike has a grab bar connected to it — a device normally found in bathrooms to prevent seniors from falling. He said throughout his venture, he will also be raising money for their Grab the Bars initiative.
“Really, we’re just trying to help people that can’t put a grab bar into their home do so. For every $250 we raise, we’re going to be able to install 2 grab bars in a seniors bathroom because in fact, bathrooms are the number one place people fall when they do have an injury,” he said. “People can go to GrabTheBars.com to learn more about our donation options.”
That initiative has the goal of raising $100,000. Salter said once his journey concludes in August, a system will be implemented to provide seniors with grab bars for free.
Salter adds that he hopes others will follow his footsteps when it comes to caring for seniors.
"I’m hoping to inspire people, because I want to see people that become caregivers as a career, because to care for America's seniors, we just need more people in the caregiving profession — not just people that come in and then go out and do a part-time, we need full-time dedicated people doing that," he said. "And I’m hoping that people will be inspired to start a senior care business, in some way, shape or form that helps our senior communities. Because we just need all of us working together to help close those gaps, to be thinking about the problems, and coming up with solutions."
Salter said he will be biking to Victoria this evening. You can track his progress here.