The Heart of Caregiving: When Life Throws You Unexpected Changes

Each member of Sound Generations’ Caregiver Support Program is or has been a caregiver to an older adult or adult child, creating a valuable shared experience among Advocates and those who seek their assistance. In this ongoing series—The Heart of Caregiving—our staff, volunteers and others share their personal caregiving stories and the insights learned along the way. The following story comes from staff member Daria Sawochka.

There was a scene in one Downton Abbey episode when Lord Grantham, lying in bed next to his wife, with a flickering candle on his bedside table, was lamenting the notion of “electricity” coming into his home and he wondered out loud why things in life had to change so much and so quickly. And would this electricity thing really catch on? It got me thinking.

Regardless of when we were born, which era or generation we call our own, which style of music speaks to us, we all get used to things being a certain way. The older we get, the more likely we are to have experienced something the same way for a longer period of time. And when those ways come to an end, when progress steps in to mix things up, we may have differing levels of initial acceptance. Often, we may straddle the gap of doing things the familiar way while also being intrigued with the promise the new way offers.

In one’s lifetime, we will see a great deal of changes, some welcomed, many not. But life seems to continue to expand regardless of our readiness. And when we meet someone a little older who at first glance appears reluctant to move forward, adapt, or change, it would be wise to keep this in mind. This person may have a long history of things being a certain way. They grew used to one way of doing things.  Then we arrive, with a heart full of good intentions, intersecting their life in this present moment with offerings of better days ahead.

You can see this with caregiving. Friends and families establish routines, ways of being and relating to one another. Then comes a diagnosis, a fall, or a knee that simply will not bend one more time. It can be like an unwanted guest arriving, disguised as an inability to do what we once could without a second thought. Now what?

When meeting with caregivers throughout King County, first we listen. We listen for signs of what has been and what has been lost. We learn about loneliness and the preciousness of time together. Then we craft individual plans to address what is needed. We offer connections to other caregivers through classes, support groups and various community resources. We can help steer and navigate through the rough and tumble seas of uncertainty. We help caregivers create plans for the parts that are in their control and contingencies for the “what if” parts.

If you or someone you know could benefit from this kind of conversation, this type of planning, give Sound Generations a call at 206.448.3110. You can also email Trained staff will guide you forward to the Caregiver Support Program. We are stronger together.