Volunteer Highlight – Bill Cohen, Cohen Caregiving Support Consultants, LLC

Photo Credit: Marcia Solberg

How did you decide to pursue the career that you are working in today?
It was a chain of unfortunate but also serendipitous events. My late mother lost her home in Hurricane Katrina, and her health, creativity and, ultimately, her life due to Alzheimer’s. After her passing, I was at first a support group leader and volunteer. However, I became aware of the caregiving consultant approach. I decided, after diligent research and networking, that this was a way to turn my personal loss and pain into my passion. This began my transition from retirement from a 25-year public sector tenure to an “encore career” helping families whose loved ones are living with dementia.

What is the most important thing you want people to know about your business?
Family caregivers, particularly those dealing with a long-term, progressive illness such as Alzheimer’s, are feeling overwhelmed, isolated, and exhausted. They are often in denial about their situation, and uninformed about their options and the available resources. I help guide and provide referrals to help them save time and money, and to reduce their stress.

What is an important lesson you have learned?
Although there are common aspects to the various forms of dementia including the most prevalent and debilitating type, Alzheimer’s, each case, each situation, and each family are unique with different needs, challenges and dynamics. One size does not fit all and each family must be individually advised for their unique situation.

Who has inspired you in your life (either professionally or personally)?
My mother, Sheila, herself. Besides being a loving and supportive mother, she was a bright, creative woman who was responsible for my own nurturing and caring characteristics. Mom was equally adept at producing a detailed, complex, and beautiful work of art, and at using a computer, specifically a Mac. Back in the 1980s when she was in her 60s, she was a rare woman at the time: professional artist and teacher, and computer and financial geek.

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop?
I am a believer in lifelong learning. I earned an international MBA in 2000, including studying Mandarin, took courses in caregiving in recent years, and attend professional meetings and seminars on a regular basis. Currently, my wife and I are learning Italian for our upcoming trip!

What would people be surprised to learn about you?
My first major career was for 14 years as a banquet manager and I met my wife, Lorelei (Lori), at a five-star hotel in New Orleans’ French Quarter where we both worked 40 years ago. We were married 38 years ago on Longboat Key, Florida.

What about your business keeps you up at night?
To be honest, not much. Although I empathize with, worry about and have compassion for families going through what I did with my mother, I know I am giving sound, objective advice and guidance from personal experience to each person to help them on their own journey with their loved one.

What have you accomplished that you are proud of?
A few years ago, I was simultaneously trying to cope with my mother’s worsening condition, and issues related to the loss of her home and life on the Gulf Coast, and with an equally stressful situation in my previous work. Those both were resolved and I was able to regain my mental and physical health, “retire” on a positive note and on my own terms, and become an encorepreneur helping people in my mom’s honor and memory.

What do you perceive as the benefits you receive from Chamber membership?
#1 are the wonderful personal and professional relationships that I have gained and nurtured since I joined. I shudder to think of all the friendly, proficient business owners, service providers and chamber staff I would have missed meeting and collaborating with if I had not taken this step. The events, the discounts and deals, and the opportunities to contribute to our community are fantastic, but our fellow members are what makes participation in Tualatin Chamber worthwhile and beneficial. It is and will remain my only “traditional” chamber membership.

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