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Life is sweet at home

Alternative Senior Care provides compassionate care, peace of mind for those who want to stay at home

Alternative Senior Care was born in 2005 in Cindy Karasch’s home. With a history of working and caring for people, Cindy followed her passion to work with the senior population and develop a business that cares for seniors in their own homes. Today Cindy and her husband, Mike, own Alternative Senior Care and fulfill its mission, “Guided by faith, we are called to provide compassionate care and peace of mind to all who desire to live at home.”

Cindy began her journey of caring for others as a young adult, working as a CNA (certified nursing assistant) at a nursing home. Her career path was further etched out when she earned an associate’s degree as a certified occupational therapist assistant (COTA) and a bachelor’s degree in management of human services. After working with special needs children for several years Cindy was redirected on the path to her first passion, working with the senior population. It was time for her to follow her heart.

Both Cindy and Mike have parents who are living at home, yet need extra care to keep that independent home lifestyle.

“The key is to live at home and to be in familiar surroundings,” explained Cindy. That is what Alternative Senior Care provides. In her past work environments Cindy had seen many people released from a nursing home or rehab center and sent home. She wondered about their safety. Her first and foremost concern was their ability to care for themselves in their own home and surroundings.

Cindy began Alternative Senior Care as a “nonmedical home care” company. Prior to opening she joined a membership organization and attended their training to familiarize herself with the business and best practices. She initially hired seven personal assistants to help her care for five people in their community.  Today, nine years later, Alternative Senior Care is a licensed medical home care provider (licensed in 2014) with a registered nurse on staff, providing in-home care including nursing services. Alternative Senior Care offers three levels of care: skilled nursing services, personal cares and homemaking.

Cindy’s husband Mike joined her in the business in 2009, and together they personally interview and hire each personal assistant that provides care to seniors who live in their own homes.

“We understand that our personal assistants are the heart and soul of our company,” says Mike.

“If we don’t make good hiring decisions, we simply don’t have a company,” he added.  Today, Alternative Senior Care has more than 80 personal assistants taking care of about 175 individuals in a five-county area, including Douglas, Pope, Stearns, Todd and Morrison, and some visits in neighboring counties. Personal assistants are “well-trained, highly qualified and carefully selected individuals who are thoroughly screened, bonded and insured,” explained Cindy. Most importantly, personal assistants are “completely trustworthy and extraordinarily caring of others.” Prior to hiring, Cindy and Mike ask themselves – “Would I allow this person to take care of my own parent?”

Caregivers are cut from a different cloth. Not everyone is meant to be a caregiver, and they are relatively easy to spot.  Many caregivers are semi-retired from their first career, have worked in the caregiver field previously, or have reached a point where they want to make a difference in someone else’s life.

“They have established a great work ethic; they have life experience of their own; they ‘have an old soul,’” said Mike, who is the community relations coordinator for Alternative Senior Care.

Training for personal assistants starts with an initial eight-hour course, which includes testing at the end of the day. Assistants are trained in the areas of professionalism, understanding aging, transportation, communication, chronic medical conditions, infection control, nutritional needs and much more. For nurse-delegated tasks, the RN trains each assistant and tests for competency under her licensure. In an effort to provide the best care possible, each assistant is expected to complete at least eight additional hours of training every year. They offer support and training that goes beyond what is required.

Cindy conducts the initial assessment process for the seniors who receive services and care from Alternative Senior Care. The services that are offered are unique to the needs of each individual.

Services include skilled nurse visits, caring companionship, meal planning and preparation, respite and hospice care, medication management and reminders, bathing and dressing, light housekeeping and laundry, running errands and providing information and referral services.

“We live what we do,” says Cindy. Between the two of them, Cindy and Mike have three parents in their 80s who live independently in their own homes.  As family caregivers themselves, they understand and identify with the personal struggles that family members face when caring for their loved ones. Mike added, “Cindy has a way of sitting down, talking to, connecting with, and comforting seniors.”  Cindy does most all of the initial assessment visits. Depending on individual care plans, Alternative Senior Care personal assistants provide care anywhere from a few hours here and there all the way up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Cindy added, “It’s hard for anyone to admit they might need help. We want each individual to achieve their ultimate goal, and that is to stay at home. We want to help them in every way we can. Our mission statement truly reflects who we are, what we believe and why we come to work every day.”

Alternative Senior Care is located in Sauk Centre at 601 Sinclair Lewis Ave., Suite B. The administrative staff includes Mike and Cindy along with three office assistants and the registered nurse. They are active in community service and continually network with others who serve the senior population and can confidently refer to other service providers. “Because of our experience, we have a broad knowledge base to draw from and will assist you any way we can,” explained Mike.

As family caregivers for their own parents, Cindy and Mike are able to walk other family caregivers through the unknown journey ahead. They are of the baby-boomer generation, taking care of parents, and addressing business issues that come along with changing demographics. “We’re trying to stay in step and adjust our business model to meet the needs of this new generation of seniors,” they explained.

Alternative Senior Care will meet with you for a free no-obligation assessment and visit with you and your family to jointly determine the scope of care you or your loved one may need. During that meeting, services provided by Alternative Senior Care are explained and reviewed, and most importantly, they listen carefully to your needs and assist you in choosing the solution that is right for you, because “Life is sweet at home.”

Call today for a free assessment: toll free at 866-352-3350; Alexandria: 320-763-7627 and Sauk Centre: 320-352-3350. Visit the website: or stop in the office located at 601 Sinclair Lewis Ave., Suite B, Sauk Centre, MN 56378.

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