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Pam (Melheim) Foti ’89 (right) works with a client.

Alumni Profile/Foti Finds Home Remedies for Elderly

Pam (Melheim) Foti ’89 says her liberal arts education at St. Norbert made her a lifelong learner and her Catholic education gave her a servant’s heart. And it’s a good thing for the more than 500 families that Vesta Senior Network has helped over the past six years.

Foti and Jenny Wagner started Vesta Senior Network in January 2013 to help guide older adults and their families in finding long-term care solutions.

“What we love about what we do is we truly help people in a time of need,” says Foti. “You can hear in our first conversation over the phone the stress starting to leave the person. In the end, they feel educated and confident.”

Foti helps families find memory-care placement or an assisted-living community. When starting Vesta, she thought she would be working primarily with older adults, but has learned that their families are often eager to be involved in the process. “We were naïve to the fact that no one wants to leave their home,” she explains. “We are fiercely independent as Americans. ‘We can take care of ourselves.’ Most often we are working with the adult children.”

The care needs that Foti’s clients have often vary and can change over time, but she and her colleagues at Vesta Senior Network continue to look for long-term care solutions that fit each person’s needs.

“We work hard to try to find someone’s last home. You don’t want an older adult who may be mentally and physically frail to have to move multiple times,” she says.

Foti became an expert in elder care in part through 17 years in pharmaceutical sales: “I learned a lot about the care needs for older adults and the diseases that affect you as you age.”

Vesta, based in Wauwatosa, Wis., has developed a network of professionals, including elder-law attorneys, realtors and move managers, and has built relationships with numerous care communities. Foti often tours facilities with families. She once worked as assistant director of admission at St. Norbert and compares the search for an assisted-living community to the college selection process.

“I applied for a number of colleges,” she explains. “When I walked onto the St. Norbert campus, I felt it in my gut. The process is similar [for long-term care]. You know when it feels right."

Care costs
One in six Americans assists with the care of an elderly family member or friend, according to a Gallup survey, and 70 percent of working caregivers suffer work-related difficulties due to their dual role. MetLife Mature Market Alliance for Caregiving reports that companies lose between $17 billion and $33 billion annually due to lost productivity by employees who are also caregivers.

“The impact that an employee with a parent who needs care has on the employer is tremendous,” says Foti. “They are key employees. They are people with knowledge, in leadership roles. It has an impact on the employer and the national economy.”

Vesta Senior Network provides consulting services for employees; as co-owner, Foti has facilitated lunch-and-learn sessions at a variety of businesses.

“We can help employees navigate senior-living options, understand what’s out there and serve as a resource for them,” Foti says.

March 17, 2019