Caregivers Need Care, Too

The vision of Sound Generations has always emphasized not only a society where older adults can thrive, but also where those who care for them can be equally supported. This part of supportive aging is sometimes left unacknowledged, but we recognize that caregivers need care, too. 

The Caregiver Support team is made up of dedicated specialists who have been, or are currently caregivers themselves. They understand deeply how easy it is to put aside their own needs to care for someone else for so long, unintentionally allowing their own wellbeing to decline. 

Caregiving is often an expectation in families. Grown children caring for their aging parents, and folks caring for a partner. Caregivers do what they do because, well, they care. They want to help those that they love. But they don’t have to do it alone, and they deserve their own time to rest, and to thrive, so that they can continue providing essential care. 

As a more specified service, our Veteran Caregiver Support program continues to grow. This year, the program secured funds to offer veteran caregivers a $500 monthly stipend toward respite care that they can utilize in whatever way it is needed depending the the type and level of care needed by the veteran care recipient. Having anywhere from 4-16 hours covered by additional support means that veteran caregivers can have more of their own time to do the things they need or want to do, while knowing that their care recipient is in good hands. The respite care funding is secured through 2023, and has already shown to be lifechanging for the caregivers it benefits at Sound Generations. 

Medicare Open Enrollment Begins October 15th!

Retiring soon? New to Medicare? Questions about your current Medicare plan?

Health Plan Open Enrollment Begins on October 15th, 2022!

Sound Generations welcomes David Washington, our new independent broker with WeCare Medicare, our health plan support program. David has been in the insurance industry for over 15 years and enjoys making navigating Medicare options an easy and painless decision for people’s health and their wallet.

David will be hosting several Medicare 101 Seminars and be available for one-on-one appointments at several Senior Living and Centers at various facilities throughout the Puget Sound during the Annual Enrollment Period which runs October 15th through December 7th. He can also be reached at 206-727-6234 or wecare@soundgenerations.org.

“The WeCare Medicare insurance broker was very knowledgeable and was able to direct me to a plan with more benefits and less out-of-pocket expense.”

WeCare Medicare Client

Supporting Older Adults During and After the Pandemic

imager of younger woman with older adult mother walking outside in the fall, both wearing masks

As vaccines and booster shots continue rolling out, the community is readjusting to a new post-pandemic life. Working entirely from home, engaging with others digitally more often than in person, and navigating supportive community resources while still staying socially distant are all among some of the new facets of daily life. Sometimes they present new opportunities, while other times they create new obstacles for barriers. After the last two years of these global major shifts, it seems likely that many of these changes will remain as part of the “new normal.” Recognizing the significant impact on older adults and adults with disabilities is essential to ensuring we are doing all we can to prevent anyone from being left behind.

The COVID-19 pandemic pushed the corporate world to shift into partial or full remote work environments. This shift was an adjustment for all, and in some cases, it made work more accessible for adults who might have been struggling to find balance with other outside responsibilities. However, for many working older adults, a transition to digital workspaces presents additional challenges. Adapting to technologies that remote work demands are an obstacle for many older adults. Combine that with the need for reliable internet access at home, it becomes apparent that older adults might find themselves ill-equipped to keep up professionally.

Image of older adult getting tech support from Sound Generations program staff

Seattle is already notorious for its high housing costs, and the pandemic did not slow that down. The market saw homebuyers offering tens of thousands of dollars over asking prices and engaging in heated bidding wars. While 2020 saw a decline in rental rates for apartments, those rates have since started climbing again and are expected to continue. Affordable apartments are few and far between across King County, and this puts many older adults at risk of being unable to obtain or maintain stable housing.

While we have been excited to emerge from the long-term isolation and reform strong community connections, it is also more important now than ever to recognize how the lasting effects of adjusting to the pandemic might create more challenges for older adults and adults with disabilities.  Help us ensure stability for our aging neighbors.

Aging in Place Your Way

asian woman and mother or grandmother enjoying each other's company with smiles

What is aging in place?

The idea of aging in place refers to the desire of many older adults to live out later years in the comfort and familiarity of their own home, without needing to sacrifice their quality of life.

Naturally, aging presents a lot of new obstacles that might not have previously been challenges, such as using the stairs or doing certain routine household tasks. This is when it can be helpful for some to have a little extra support in the form of a caregiver or access to a supportive community. Making some simple adjustments to help make getting around the house a little easier, and bringing in the resource of friendship and socialization at senior centers with peers, activities, and support groups can be a good step toward aging in place positively.

Here are some simple ways to ensure that you or a loved one continue to age in place safely.

Installing railings & grab bars. As mobility and balance changes with aging, having easy-to-grab railings and bars in bathrooms, on stairs, and in other areas of the home can provide easy assistance for an older adult living at home alone.

Making a transportation plan. Sometimes older adults are no longer able to comfortably drive themselves to get from place to place. Having alternative plans like using public transportation or a personalized shuttle service can help aging in place easier by ensuring that you can always get where you need to go.

Having a supported caregiver around to help. Having another person around to help with daily activities like chores, meals, or personal hygiene tasks can be a comfort for someone living alone. Sometimes family members step in to provide this assistance, but we recognize that caregivers often need their own care and support too.

Aging in place your way provides the chance to maintain a comfortable and fulfilling life at home. Sound Generations programs in Minor Home Repair, Transportation Services, and Caregiver Support, are here to help older adults and those who love them in the transition of aging positively in place, whatever that may look like for them.

Celebrating Our Superstar Volunteers

celebrating our superstar volunteers

April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month, and Sound Generations would like to give a super special shoutout to all the well-rounded and passionate volunteers that have dedicated countless hours in service — bringing smiles and warm greetings at senior centers, Community Dining kitchens, older adults driven to vital appointments or given freshly prepared and delivered meals. These are just a few ways our rock star volunteers have shown up to support our mission of furthering healthy aging in King County! Throughout 2021, Sound Generations saw over 1,000+ volunteers come together in challenging circumstances to uplift those around them through direct service.

Sound Generations volunteers are thoughtful individuals who are always excited to engage with the aging community through shared stories, building friendships and maintaining long-lasting connections along the way.

Take it from superstar volunteer, John Cluff, a receptionist and Board member at Senior Center of West Seattle, who shared this fascinating and insightful quote about what inspires him to volunteer:

“I’ve been thinking. If I really wanted to touch the past, I could have gone to the coast and touched a log on the beach. If I want to touch the present, I merely pet my dog. But what I really wanted to do, especially during the pandemic, is reach out and touch the future (make a difference) so I volunteered, and I am glad I did!”

John Cluff

Thank you for sharing, John, and we hope that your desire to reach out and touch the future inspires others! Check out John’s Senior Center of West Seattle Featured Volunteer Highlight to read more about this amazing individual.

You too can join the volunteer family! As part of our Volunteer Appreciation Month celebration, we will be launching Volunteer Xtravaganza – a virtual celebration of volunteerism through our soundgenerations.org/volunteer website! On this newly built page to celebrate our volunteers, you will find exciting new features such as volunteer shout-outs, featured volunteer opportunity of the month, as well as ways to stay in the loop across the organization.

For any questions about Volunteer Xtravaganza, please contact Dom at doma@soundgenerations.org.

Q&A: Meet Sound Generations’ Star Social Workers

March is Social Work Month

March is Social Work Month, a time to recognize the individuals who dedicate their professional lives to advocating for others. Sound Generations is fortunate to have many compassionate, dedicated social workers on staff working to support older adults and those who care for them every single day. We are taking this opportunity to highlight the essential work that they do, as well as learn more about each of their unique journeys and passions that drive them in their roles with Sound Generations.

People choose to become social workers for lots of different reasons, sometimes very personal ones. Can you share your own motivation for choosing to pursue this career, and what you hope to accomplish in the future?

“People in difficult circumstances have been taking steps to care for themselves and others in their families, their neighborhoods, and their larger communities, regardless of the involvement of social workers. On an individual level, I want to be part of supporting those resilient efforts and getting barriers out of the way for people to live a fuller life. On a collective level, I want to be part of transforming the historic wrongs and ongoing social injustices that perpetuate scarcity conditions. There should be fewer obstacles for people to overcome to live by their means. This matters to me because it is about living a fuller life with everyone and sharing that as much as possible. I can’t imagine a life without people caring for each other, even if just sharing the recognition that things are not alright, but they could be. I don’t have to be a social worker to be part of that, but I chose the profession to be a means to do more with what I have been given.”

– Jms Stuivenga, LSWAIC / GRAT Clinician

Person with glasses and longer hair smiling in camera (JMS Stuivenga)

What is something you wish more people knew or understood about social work, or about being a social worker?

woman with short hair wearing orange turtleneck, smiling (Nikki Bagli)

“Social work has a particular focus on equity and inclusion. Social workers consider people in their environment and the interplay between our internal worlds and external systems of privilege and oppression.”

-Nikki Bagli, Caregiver Counselor & Clinical Consultant

How has your experience working at Sound Generations been different from other social work roles you have held previously?

“The biggest difference between this current social work position and others I have held, is that few situations are really a crisis.  I used to work in a hospital where most interactions were a result of a medical crisis.   Now, I work primarily with seniors who are mostly independent and functioning pretty well on their own in the community.   I find the slower pace at the center and in this community refreshing.  It allows me time to really develop relationships with people and see them on a repeated basis, and I thoroughly enjoy this aspect of the work I am doing now.  Sound Generations celebrates Aging…and I like that a lot!”

– Kelly Fujiwara, MA, MSW, Social Worker/Resource Navigator, Sno-Valley Senior Center

Woman with glasses and long brown hair wearing sweater (Kelly Fujiwara)

What is something about your job that you look forward to every day?

“I look forward to assisting older adults to problem-solve and to address and hopefully resolve issues that are affecting their quality of life. I also appreciate the ongoing learning and the variety of challenges that I’m faced with every day.”

-Jill Bieler, Social Worker at Shoreline Lake Forest Park Senior Center

It’s no question that social workers experience a tremendous amount of emotional exhaustion just by the nature of the work that they do. What is something you do to take care of yourself outside of work? Where do you find joy?

Smiling woman with curly blue hair pushed to one side (Sabrina Jones)

“I have been a social worker for more than a decade, and one of my greatest challenges is finding the balance between caring for work and caring for myself. My passion of systems change is also big in my personal life. I spend a lot of time encouraging voter participation, engaging elected officials, following community development and challenges, and staying tuned into current events. In our current climate, this is incredibly trying. However, my passion for being a part of creating a healthier world prevents me from completely checking out. So, a lot of self-care is about finding a balance. I try to alternate reading fiction with nonfiction, policy books. I take walks through Seattle’s neighborhoods, finding joy in small things like creative yard art and gorgeous sunsets. I love taking mundane photos with my FujiFilm instax camera.”

-Sabrina Jones, Director of Assistance Services

If you could give any piece of advice to those considering pursuing their own social work career, what would it be?

Go for it! One of the beauties of a social work career is that there are so many ways of being a social worker: working with children or adults, in health care settings, home health and hospice, or as an administrator.”

-Toni Ameslav, MSW, Social Worker at Senior Center of West Seattle 

Woman with curly grey hair smiling in black sweater (Toni Ameslav)

Follow us on Facebook & Instagram, where we’ll be sharing more Social Worker highlights all month long!

Banana Cream Pie

Homemade Tasty Banana Cream Pie on a white wooden background, top view. Flat lay, overhead, from above.

Ingredients

For the filling:

  • 2 cups whole milk (or sub 2%)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon or scotch (optional, but recommend)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoon salted butter, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 2-3 large ripe bananas, sliced

For the peanut butter cookie crust:

  • 20-25 nutter butters
  • ¼ cup melted butter

For the topping:

  • 16 ounces (1 pint) heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

To garnish:

  • Dark chocolate for chocolate curls

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray or melted butter. This creates such a gorgeous pie but you can also use a regular deep dish pie pan to make this pie too!
  2. Start by making the crust: Place cookies into the bowl of a food processor and pulse for 1-2 minutes or until cookies are finely crushed. Add in melted butter and process again until well combined.
  3. Dump the mixture into the prepared pie pan and press into the bottom and side evenly. It should come up at least an inch to an inch and a half on the sides. Sometimes I find it helpful to use a small measuring cup to help set the crust firmly and get the crumbs up the side of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes then remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. FYI: The crust will need to be somewhat cool to the touch before you can add the filling.
  4. To make the filling: In a large saucepan, mix the yolks, sugar, cornstarch and salt until well combined and thick. It may take some time to get it all combined but the mixture should be silky smooth once you’re done.
  5. Next, add milk to a small pot and bring to a slight simmer. Do not boil the milk. You just want it to start to slightly bubble and simmer along the edges. Remove from heat once simmering and immediately whisk in ⅓ cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture, keep whisking as we don’t want the eggs to curdle! You’ll need to be quick. Slowly whisk in the rest of the hot milk and continue to whisk.
  6. After all the milk is whisked into the pan with the egg mixture, immediately place the pan over medium heat and continue to whisk, ensuring that you get the sides and edges of the pan. Once the mixture starts to get warm and slightly boils, it may thicken VERY quickly so you must pay attention closely. Once the mixture thickens to be custard-like or almost like a thick peanut butter (which shouldn’t take that long), you can immediately remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, bourbon and butter; stirring until well combined.
  7. Next add banana slices all over the bottom of the pie crust so that they are touching. Pour the filling into the cooled cookie pie crust and smooth the top. Cover with plastic wrap so that it touches the filling and refrigerate for 2-4 hours or until cold.
  8. Once pie and filling are cold and you are ready to serve, make the whipped cream topping: Add heavy whipped cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract to the bowl of an electric mixer (or use a hand mixer!); beat on high until cream reaches stiff peaks. Taste and add additional sugar if necessary and mix once more.
  9. Evenly spread whipped cream over pie filling, then garnish with dark chocolate shavings or dust pie with a little cocoa powder. Serves 9-12, depending on how large you cut the slices. Pie will stay fresh for a few days if properly covered and stored in the fridge.

Original recipe from Ambitious Kitchen.