With 25 years of experience working with Alzheimer’s and dementia populations, Krystal Ryan has seen a the pain of families as they take their loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia into assistant living facilities. Krystal recognized a need to have one last family reunion, and this was what inspired her to create her company, Helping Hands Traveling Companion.
“What I saw was a need. I saw that there were seniors that were moving into assisted living facilities and I would hear family members say, ‘I wish I could have taken mom or dad on a family trip or on a vacation before we moved them here, but we couldn’t due to the nature of their disease,’” explained Krystal. As Alzheimer’s and dementia are rapidly progressive diseases, family members who are not equipped to be caregivers are not only struggle with giving their loved ones the care they need, but also struggle with navigating airport security as they try to follow the cues and commands from TSA.
Armed with this information, Krystal decided to ask one of her clients if they would be willing to take a trip with their loved one if she would accompany them and they said absolutely. “I took them on their last family trip before moving him into his long-term care facility and it worked awesome. I provided all of his personal care, I provided all of his redirecting.” While there are many agencies available to help seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia, these agencies are focused more on helping at home and providing resources to take the individual to their doctor’s appointments. There are currenting no businesses that aid families in taking their loved ones on one last family trip.
This is what was the driving force for Krystal to start her own business. Since this type of business idea is in new territory , Krystal has experienced a few challenges. “The business and the idea, it was already in my heart,” explained Krystal. “It was there, but I would sabotage myself. I would say, ‘no one is going to use this or how am I going to get clients’ and I would work myself up to talk myself out starting the business”. Aside from facing self-sabotage as a challenge, Krystal also was worried about how she was going to find the time to run a business as a single mother of two kids, one in college and one in high school.
Despite her fears, Krystal pursued the idea of starting her business and she found herself at Mi Casa Resource Center this past spring. She enrolled in Mi Casa’s 15-week course, Business Success, that teaches entrepreneurs how to create and implement a business plan. “It was the best experience ever. From night one when I walked into the class, I was so excited,” Krystal stated about her experience at Mi Casa. The Mi Casa Business Consultant and Instructor was one of the people that contributed to Krystal’s positive experience from the start. “They were very encouraging from the beginning, listening very well to your idea. Telling you in the beginning, you know if this is your business, believe in yourself.” One of the moments Krystal looked forward to the most in class was “Positive Ups”, where participants would share anything positive that happened to them in their lives, which set the tone for the class. Additionally, something that Krystal loved from the class was the relationships participants built with each other, where they shared ideas and interacted with other Mi Casa instructors and classes. “It’s actually a class where your instructors, all of them, hold your hand, they give you advice and then they help you along the way no matter what.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Business Success was transitioned to an online setting. History was made as Mi Casa offered it’s first-ever online class and graduation celebration. During the graduation, Business Success participants presented their complete business business plan. “It gave me confidence. Once I actually saw my business plan and my slideshow presentation. It gave me that confidence of knowing that, ‘this is your baby, you have built this and look at what you came out with.’”
While Krystal’s traveling component of her business has been put on hold until next year, she continues to build a strong foundation for her business. She has trips with clients scheduled for 2021 and will spend the rest of 2020 creating a websitefor her business. As for what advice she would give aspiring entrepreneurs, she says, “I wish someone would have told me to have faith in your dreams, because if it’s already in your mind it’s already yours, you just need to bring it forth.”