No place like it: Biz helps families cope

When Jeanne McCusker learned her mother had Lou Gehrig's disease, the degenerative disease that had taken McCusker's grandmother's life years earlier, she and her family rallied to help her mother continue living at home. The experience shaped her future.

"It puts you in a different place to help people," she says.

After her mother died in 2001 at age 55, McCusker, a medical sales rep, decided to change careers. In November 2003, she started Home Instead Senior Care, a nonmedical home care business that sends support into homes where families are caring for aging or infirm relatives.

Just four months later, McCusker, 36, has expanded to more than 30 caregivers and says she's always hiring more.

Those caregivers are not medically trained, but are thoroughly screened, she says.

For about $15 per hour (paid out of pocket since insurance doesn't cover the service), Home Instead caregivers come to the home and perform a variety of household tasks, take clients to appointments, and generally keep them comfortable.

"It's akin to having family members there," says McCusker.

Jeanne McCusker says her business offers support to the entire family.