When I chose the main home page image for Caregiving Advice, I knew a few things: I wanted something symbolic and sharp, something in a bold color, something that looked clean and modern.
I also knew what I didn’t want: a picture of a caregiver holding an older adult’s hand, or a nurse guiding someone in a wheelchair or walker, or anything that felt or implied something medical or clinical.
First of all, there’s so much more to caregiving than clinical care or mobility assistance. And second, there are more caregivers of all ages supporting loved ones who may not be of a certain age (like 65 and up), and supporting them through the early stages of care through the very end of life.
But if you know me, you know that older adults have always had a special place in my life. They are still the population that I adore most and find most intriguing. They’re the people I seek out in the halls at church and in the grocery store aisles. They’re the reason I chose certain jobs, the reason I love movies like Waking Ned Devine.
However, in the last 6 years of being a parent to a child with special needs, I’ve learned about caregiving on the other end of the spectrum. I’ve connected with many parent caregivers. I’ve listened to the stories of spouses who unexpectedly became caregivers at a younger age. I’ve met many millennials caring for parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and siblings.
There’s so much more to caregiving than clinical care or mobility assistance.Michelle Seitzer
Through these experiences, I’ve learned that — though circumstances and diagnoses and environments may differ greatly — what all caregivers need are essentially the same things: conversation, connection, and compassion. They need someone to talk to, someone who “gets it,” someone who will show them the kindness they often don’t show themselves. Those qualities — whether they’ve come from a family member, friend, stranger, health care provider, or some other person who crosses my path — are what I seek out in building my own caregiving village. Conversation, connection, and compassion have been the most meaningful, most edifying aspects of my caregiving journey — on the good days, and on the kind of days when all I can do is curl up on the couch, depleted, defeated, or discouraged.
- Sitting with them on the couch in their TV room watching the cars go by through the sheer curtains while the evening news played.
- Sitting with our extended family on the couches in the living room while my grandfather read the Christmas story from the Bible every Christmas Eve.
- Sitting with Grandma on the couch in the basement and looking through old pictures while Grandpa was busy with a project in his workshop, followed by the scent and trail of sawdust.
- Sitting on the couch with my mom talking to Grandpa’s 24/7 caregiver while Grandma sat by quietly, not knowing quite what to say.
I thought of the words “Sit & stay awhile,” which I had placed there with the purpose of invitation, welcome, and comfort — for people of all ages to come to the site and read our caregiver stories, find resources, connect to customized advice for their caregiving stage, and discover innovative caregiving companies.
And then I remembered: when I came to visit as an adult, well past my grandparents’ most active years, they’d invite me to “sit & stay awhile.” And whether it was 5 minutes or 2 hours or something in between, they enjoyed my company and I theirs.
I miss that. I miss the stories we’d share on the couch, or the funny arguments we’d have (Grandpa liked a particular political pundit that I did not). I even miss the moments of silence between us.
I’d give anything to plop down on the couch with them.
I’m so glad I chose that image and those words for my site, even if I didn’t originally intend them as a nod to my beloved grandparents. I was always welcome in their home, always comfortable there. I hope when you visit Caregiving Advice, you feel welcome and comfortable too. Come, sit & stay awhile!
Want to start a conversation? Make a connection? Get compassionate caregiving advice? Reach out here.