By Peggy Chapman
Northwest Asian Weekly
Dwayne Clark, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Aegis Living, a leader in senior housing, credits his mother for his success and his devotion to helping seniors. Raised by his single mom, Clark states that “she was the driving force in my life. She made me believe you could be whatever you want to be.”
With more than 25 years serving seniors, Clark is an expert on aging issues. He has been involved in the development, construction and/or management of over 200 senior housing projects.
Clark has a blog about his mother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s (http://mymothermyson.com/). Not only does it offer personal narrative on the traumatic effects of the disease, but it is an excellent resource for his insights on aging. Along with his blog Dwayne has written two additional books about his mom and her journey with Alzheimer’s, My Mother, My Son and Saturdays with G.G.
So what has Clark noticed about aging and the Asian American community?
Surprisingly, he states that Chinese Americans are actually healthier compared to Caucasian seniors. Chinese American seniors have approximately 1-2 falls per month while Caucasian seniors have approximately 30-40 falls a month. Falls are a concern and a big health risk for seniors, since when there is no movement, there is more of a chance of developing pneumonia. So what can explain this large discrepancy? A lot of Asian American seniors practice activities like Qi Gong and Tai Chi, which help the core and balance, thus less falls.
Clark also states he has noticed Asian Americans tend to be mentally active, which can help ward off dementia-related issues, which tend to approach around 85 years. He notes that Asian American seniors participate in brain workouts.
These include activities like mahjong, practicing calligraphy…even being a part of the cultural community helps the brain stay active.
As for the business model Clark has developed, his success is impressive. According to the Aegis website Clark “grew Aegis Living from a dream to a company that has over $1 billion in real estate assets, over $150 million in operating revenue, nearly 2,200 employees and is one of the most sought after operators in the country.” King 5 (Seattle television station) rated Aegis as the best company to work for in the sector.
Along with his other books, he also authored “Help Wanted: Recruiting, Hiring and Retaining Exceptional Staff,” which reflects his work principles and his continued business success.
Clark was named Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2007. He was also honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from Senior Services. There is a program at Bastyr University named the “Dwayne J. Clark Healthy Aging Program” –Clark was granted the Bastyr University Mission Award. Aegis Living was also named Best Retirement Facility by 425 magazine three years in a row.
What is next for Aegis? There will be $50 million in development and the company will be hiring approximately 700-plus new staff.
Clark’s dedication to his mother, seniors’ issues, and his staff is certainly visionary. (end)
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Peggy Chapman can be reached at email@example.com.