Meet Becky Feola, Former Cowgirl, Young Widow, Founder of Phoenix’s Assisted Living Advantage, About-to-be-Published Author — and NABBW’s New Assisted Living and Caregiving Associate

by Anne Holmes on July 29, 2013

We’re delighted to present Becky Feola, NABBW’s new Associate for Assisted Living and Caregiving. While extremely capable in these areas, Becky is also a budding author who has been bold enough to reinvent herself several times despite the fact that she’s  still only in her early fifties.

She is the founder of Assisted Living Advantage, located in Phoenix, Arizona, a company dedicated to helping people locate care facilities for their loved ones. She  started this company in 2009, after working for four years as director of the non-profit NJF Center for Caregivers, Inc.

Becky has personally been through the process of relocating a loved one to assisted living more than once.  After her husband was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, she became his primary caregiver. She immersed herself in research, learning all that she could concerning the disease, the legalities of being an informal caregiver and guardian, the insurance companies, social services, and the legal system.

She spent eleven years providing care for him, but says that as his last days approached, she realized it was most important for her to spend her last days with him as his wife, not his caregiver. Of course, this  necessitated hiring competent professionals to oversee his care — a major decision she does not in any way regret.

As a result of this personal experience, Becky knows how hard it can be to find the perfect care facility on your own. There are so many decisions to be made with regard to issues like licensing, levels of care, and appropriate pricing. That’s why she views her professional role as that of a “matchmaker.” Her firm’s role, she says, is to provide service with compassion and respect, while creating the perfect match where her clients’ loved ones will move only one time, to a new home where they will thrive as much as possible during their remainder years. 

As for Becky’s newest role as author: She is currently writing both fiction and non-fiction works. Her book on assisted living, titled Navigating The Crisis – Assisted Living Answers, is due out yet this year.In addition, as she discusses below, Becky is planning a series of novels, all with the theme of paranormal experiences. Ghost stories, she says.

We can’t wait to read and review her books. But you can see her NABBW columns anytime on the front page of Here’s her latest post. Meanwhile, we convinced this daughter of the West to answer our favorite questions. Here’s what she told us:

Using one paragraph, tell us a bit about yourself?

Car ShowI am 53 years old and live in Scottsdale, Arizona.  I am the founder of Assisted Living Advantage, which provides evaluations, counseling, education and placement services for those in need of assisted living.

In 2005, I was widowed at the young age of 45 after providing intensive care for my husband who had Huntington’s disease.  I was his only caregiver for eleven years until he passed away at the age of 49.

 Tell us about your family; married, divorced, children, grands, boomerangs or parents living with you, etc.

I have been blessed with another chance at love and have been involved with a wonderful man since 2007.  His two children (ages 21 and 17) consider me their stepmother and I love them all dearly.

My mother at the age of 85 is still living independently within a half hour of my home.

I have a younger brother and a sister-in-law who just had their first child at the age of 41, so I now have a nephew to spoil.

What is your favorite childhood memory that is reminiscent of growing up in the 50s, 60s or 70s?

I was born in 1960 and can remember the innocence and freedom that young children still had at that time.  My father was a professional cowboy.  I grew up on ranches in Colorado, Arizona and Wyoming.

In fact, we lived so far out in the country that I had to attend a small country school for the 8-10 children from neighboring ranches that were of all 12 grades taught by one teacher.  I didn’t attend a public school until I was in 6th grade.

I can remember walking a couple of miles through the fields and cows to the highway where my teacher would pick me up and drive me the rest of the way.  On some occasions, we would all ride our horses to school!

The thing that really stands out to me is that it was a time when I could take off on my own first thing in the morning with a packed lunch and my horse and roam the countryside for hours on end without adult supervision.  My parents didn’t have to worry about me.  These experiences instilled in me a sense of adventure, independence and the ability to entertain myself with the simple pleasures in life.

What qualities do you have that speak of our generation of women?

I think that Baby Boomer women possess a sense of youth and vitality that other generations lacked.

I know, for myself, that my chronological age means nothing compared to how I feel inside.  I take care of myself mentally, physically and emotionally and it shows.  I look and feel years younger than women my age did generations earlier.

Also, I possess a great entrepreneurial spirit and never see things as an obstacle, but rather a challenge to learn and grow.  I’ve started two businesses and am entertaining a third along with the process of writing two books at the same time.

Finally, women of our generation are savvier when it comes to finances.  I handle all the finances in our family and have been the larger breadwinner for years now.

What inspires you?

What inspires me the most is when I see myself or others who are facing a terrible or difficult situation consciously choose to seek out the positive life lesson, grow and then reach out to help others rather than fold under the pressure, grief or pain.

I think of people such as Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou and so many others who went through so much and turned their lives around to inspire others.  I want to be remembered that way even if it’s only my family that will remember me…Oprah

What brings you the most pleasure in midlife?

What is bringing me the most pleasure in midlife is quite a surprise to me.  I am finding that I want to simplify my life and to really focus on what is a quality experience for me.  I am spending more and more time downsizing my life so that I can work less and enjoy the little things like writing, spoiling my nephew, cuddling with my pets.

Also, I have learned that I am very comfortable with the aging process and that there are benefits to growing older, such as not caring so much about what others think. 

Do you have any interesting hobbies?

I have always held a fascination with life after death and ghosts.  In fact, I have several family members, including myself, who have a connection with those who have passed on…

So, with that lifelong interest, I am working on my first novel – a ghost story.  I plan on writing novels based on places I’ve stayed that were haunted, people I’ve encountered that were dead, etc.

So all my books, even though they will be fiction, will have an element of a real life experience to them.

Do you have a favorite book or movie? If so, tell us why it’s your favorite.

small doveMy favorite book is Lonesome Dove.  It transports me back to my days living on the ranches.  I think I have read it nine times now.  I also like The Horse Whisperer very much for the same reason.

My favorite movie is Last of the Mohicans.  Action, romance and that score…absolutely beautiful.

Do you travel and if so, who are your favorite travel partners and where do you like to go?

I have not had the opportunity to travel much but it is an important thing for me to do in the future.  I have been to different parts of Mexico and I have been in every state in the US including Hawaii.

My dream trip will be a 2-3 months stay in Italy, traveling when I want and visiting and staying wherever my heart leads me.

I love to travel with my fiancé, Rick.  We are very compatible and patient with each other.  He’s very accommodating of my need to pack everything I own – just in case!

Do you practice preventive medicine? Please elaborate

I do all the recommended preventive measures such as yearly check-ups, mammograms, etc.  I do not like to take medications and want to do everything possible to avoid ending up like so many of my clients who are taking dozens of pills each and every day.

I try to eat a very highly nutritious diet.

I don’t really like to exercise unless it’s fun.  I hike/walk and play golf.  I am a firm believer in being outside in nature on a regular basis.

I also meditate on a daily basis.

What do you stress about?

I don’t really stress much any more.  I have lived through being a caregiver and watching my husband die at a very young age.  I consider myself lucky to be alive and have things that maybe I should stress about, but it’s all very minor compared to what I’ve been through.

I keep a gratitude journal and write in it everyday.  It’s hard to stress when you’re being grateful!

 Is it important for you to retain your youthful looks, and if so, to what degree are you willing to go?

Of course I would like to retain my looks and I think I’ve been very fortunate.  I’m always being told that I look 5-10 years younger than I am and I think it’s my genes.

However, I do try to stay current and not date myself with clothing or hair that would age me.  I think if it feels good wear it and don’t worry if it’s age appropriate, just be classy about it.

For me personally, I will not have plastic surgery or inject foreign substances in to my body.  If somebody else want to do so, then they should, but it’s just not for me.

Have you re-invented yourself, and if so, how?


I first reinvented myself in 2005 after my husband passed away.  I had retired in 1997 when he really started to decline and I knew I needed to be with him 24/7.  After his death, I knew I would need to start working again, but I had been out of the work force for long enough that I either needed more education or needed to start my own business.

Within several months, I started a non-profit that would take what I had learned about caregiving, navigating the legal, insurance and medical worlds and all there is to know about assisted living and reach out to families in need.  Then, in 2009 I started Assisted Living Advantage to focus strictly on assisted living.

Currently, I am moving into the literary world.  I am writing a book on assisted living as a resource to those in need and I am beginning my series of ghost stories.

One day, I hope to be living in a little cottage by the ocean in Carmel, CA.  I picture myself with long flowing grey hair, wearing a colorful bohemian caftan and tons of jewelry.  I will drink fine wine, stare at the ocean and write, write, write!

Do you plan to retire?

Not really.  With my dream of becoming a famous, published author, I will probably write until the day I die. 

Are you doing anything to GO Green?

I drive a small car that gets amazing mileage and I’m hoping to have a hybrid one day soon.  I try to conserve on water and electricity as much as possible.  I work from a home office to avoid driving as much as possible.

I drink filtered water when I can to avoid bottled water.  I’m a vegetarian and buy locally to support our local markets.

I try to reuse anything I can and to not purchase things that will just end up in a landfill…

Can you pinpoint major turning points in your life that led to your life’s work/play at midlife?

Absolutely.  As I’ve mentioned before growing up on ranches significantly impacted me as did caring for my ailing husband.  Those are probably two of the most defining points in my life.

Do you still have unfulfilled dreams, and are you doing anything to accomplish them?

My writing.  I have written ever since I was a child and have always shared with those I love.  My best friend throughout high school is now a principal in a high school and she laminated many of the things I’ve written and uses them in their English classes.  My college professors would always ask me to continue my short stories because they wanted to read more!

So, this is the year that I’m taking it to a higher level.  I will be a published author within the next year…

How do you make a difference in the lives of others, your community, your world?

I think I make a difference by sharing my own story and showing others that you can live through tremendous difficulty with dignity and then move forward knowing that you did the right thing.  I am very passionate about educating the public on knowing what their options are and preparing a plan of action so that they can be proactive about their lives rather than reactive. 

Who has had the biggest influence on your life and why?

The biggest influence in my life was my late husband, Neil.  When I met Neil and learned that he had Huntington’s disease, I could have walked away.  We weren’t married yet and he was prepared for me to leave him.  But, I couldn’t.  I already felt married in my heart and I knew that I had to do this.  I couldn’t abandon him.

It was not always easy and at times I regretted what I had gotten myself in to, but now I can see the growth as a human I went through.  I am also extremely grateful for the spiritual awakening and growth I experienced during that time.

The experience changed me to the core and made me a better person.  I found a sense of peace with myself and the world that I don’t think would have if I had I not got through my time with Neil.

If you were to have a personal mission statement, what would it be? Feel free to be as serious or fun as you choose.

Becky Feola’s mission is to seek joy and find her inner child each and every day.  She will reach out and touch someone on a daily basis and make sure that they know that they matter and that they make a difference in the world.  She will spread comfort, love and happiness to all she encounters.  She will be grateful for her life and the beauty of the world she lives in.


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