After being raised by her grandparents and suffering the heartache of having two grandmothers with dementia, Cindy Williams, an accountant, decided it was time for a change.
“I came to a place in my life where I realized that no one cares how much plastic costs,” she said. “I wanted to make a difference.”
Williams retired her accountant’s hat and switched gears, moving into the role of administrator for a senior living community. It was in that capacity that she gained a crystal-clear picture of what her life’s work needed to be. After seeing families try unsuccessfully to navigate the labyrinth of the senior health care system and its complicated resources, she had her “ah ha” moment. What was really needed was a go-to resource for every aspect of senior living – a hands-on, how-to for everything from home health to assisted living and skilled care to hospice.
After trying to talk herself out of starting a business, the pull to do so proved to be too strong.
“I had a great career, and, as a single mother, I had every good reason to play it safe,” Williams said. “But I knew there was something else God was calling me to do.”
In March of 2017, Williams launched Simply Seniors, Inc. and hasn’t looked back. That leap of faith turned out to be life-changing, both for Williams and the people she helps. As a licensed South Carolina residential care administrator and a nationally certified dementia practitioner, Williams is a geriatric care manager who is uniquely qualified to handle any hurdle facing seniors and their families.
Counseling families regarding placement services is just one aspect of her job. Often, by the time Williams gets a call for help, the family is already in crisis.
“I was at my wits end,” said Debbie Dupree, daughter of one of Williams’ clients. “She’s amazing. She’s an advocate for the family, as well as for the patient. She understands every aspect of senior care: the terminology, the regulations, patient rights, and the services that are available. I know I made a well-informed decision because of her. She even helped me review the paperwork I was signing.”
Utilizing a holistic approach, Williams assesses the family dynamic, the medical history and the financial situation. Finding out what the client’s life was like and what their wants and needs are helps in piecing together a complicated puzzle. In addition, if there are benefits and resources available to them, Williams coordinates those services as well.
“The fact is, you don’t know what you don’t know. I’ve had experience running senior communities and have had loved ones who needed assistance. Knowing the senior living communities in the Lowcountry enables me to give my clients an insider’s guide to the industry. I know what DHEC regulations are and how facilities should run, and I know how crucial it is to know the staff and create meaningful relationships between the staff and the family,” Williams explained. “It’s so important to get help from someone who knows the business from every angle. It’s putting together the whole package and staying on top of their needs every step of the way.”
On any given day, Williams is busy conducting well visits to her clients who are at home, in assisted living, in memory care or in skilled care. Acting as a conduit between the family and the facility, she might coordinate patient care including home health, hospice, and physical, occupational and speech therapy services. With the remarkable ability to remember every prescription her client’s take, she often goes to doctor appointments with them.
“I need to be the eyes and ears for them,” she said. “At first, doctors weren’t sure about me. But now they refer patients to me.”
When the energetic family advocate hears her clients say, “Why didn’t we know about you six months ago?” she knows how her families feel about her.
“God put me in this place to be a lighthouse. This is what I’m supposed to be doing,” Williams said. “I love getting up in the morning. I love knowing that what I do makes a difference.”