[FEATURE] Mary Hamway, Director of Elder Care Concierge, talks governing, Queen Elizabeth and caring for aging loved ones

By Callan Smith | Rose Law Group Reporter

This week we spoke with Mary Hamway, via email, for our series on the talented people who make up Rose Law Group. Mary is the Director of Elder Care Concierge, our affiliate.

As a former Councilwoman and Vice Mayor for the Town of Paradise Valley, can you tell us about that experience? How about a success and a challenge that you faced during your time?

I served the Town for over ten years and it was one of the greatest honors of my life. It was an exciting time when I was elected in 2004 because resort redevelopment and home construction were booming. It was like taking a crash course in land use, construction, public policy, zoning and finance. Then the recession hit and tourism, real estate sales, and construction projects just dried up. To offset this loss of revenue, the town cut expenses by almost 30%. Those were challenging times for everyone, but watching how other levels of government, such as school districts and the state and federal governments balance their budgets and the ripple effect it had on our community, made me want to be more politically engaged.

We hear you worked with both the Columbia and Challenger space shuttles, that must have been amazing! Can you tell us what it was like working with NASA and those programs? What was your most memorable moment? 

This was in the early 80’s and I was working for Rockwell International in Dallas, heading up a team of system programmers. The contract Rockwell had was to build the pay-load doors for the two shuttles and the B1-bomber. It was a joint project between Rockwell, IBM and NASA and we were one of the first IT centers that used remote computing… the mainframe was in Dallas and the manufacturing plant was in Tulsa. We did everything over two T1 lines, and at that time it was groundbreaking and very leading-edge. My most memorable moment was when I got to pretend to be the Queen of England for about 10 minutes. I was working in Downy California when HRH Queen Elizabeth, who was in California for a publicity tour, wanted to see the Space Shuttle flight simulator. The Secret Service arrived in force to secure the building, but they needed a body double, the same height as the queen, to walk and stand in a few strategic places, and since we are both 5’4”, and I was probably the only woman in the building, I got the job.

As a caregiver and advocate for your grandmother, how has that prepared you for your current role as Director of Elder Care Concierge?

Being my grandmother’s advocate was a rewarding but challenging experience. At the age of 98, my grandmother, due to dementia, was put in a skilled nursing facility in Texas. After my mother died, I became her primary advocate, so I know first-hand how hard it is to oversee and manage care from a distance. What I learned from this experience is that every family takes a unique journey when it comes to caring for aging loved ones. There are no cookie-cutter solutions and the process of managing end-of-life care is complex. Through this service, I have the opportunity to use my personal experience, knowledge and resources to develop customized solutions, tailored to the specific needs of our clients.

What is the elder care concierge?

Elder Care Concierge is a service designed to help busy families and older adults navigate the complex world of senior living and senior care options. For a flat fee, ECC will work with adult children who want the best for the aging parents but don’t have the time or knowledge to know where to turn. ECC provides customized solutions based on specific needs which can include transitioning to senior housing, ensuring all legal documents are in place, understanding insurance options, developing procedures and processes for aging in place or whatever unique needs our clients might have. Our goal is to work directly with adult children and older adults to find the best solution so that everyone can thrive to their maximum potential. ECC is here to help whether the adult children live locally or in another state. Managing care from a distance brings new challenges and it can be a comfort to have an expert looking after the older parents to ensure they are getting the best care.

We’ve heard your serve on the Governor’s Advisory Council on Aging. What types of issues are being discussed? How does the work you’re doing affect Arizona and the elderly? 

The Governor’s Advisory Council on Aging is a volunteer 15-member council that advises the Governor, Legislature and State Departments on aging-related issues. Elder Abuse, Alzheimer’s awareness, caregiver concerns and opportunities and aging in the community are just some of current topics being addressed. We work with communities, agencies and older adults to champion positive aging-related policy, track state and federal legislation and collaborate with partners to improve the lives of older adults.

We hear you’re very involved with community service. Can you tell us about the work you’re doing currently?

I currently serve on the Board of Trustees for the Arizona Theatre Company, and I represent cities and towns on the Arizona Power Plant and Line Siting Committee. Two very different groups but I love the diversity.