From the community: Sophia Kennedy

From the community: Sophia Kennedy

“Either it got done by me or it didn’t happen. You just do what is necessary. It becomes second nature.”

One of the best things about working with a team so focused on the community is that you get to hear about experiences firsthand. From sharing caregiving stories to sharing recipes, being able to connect with caregivers is important to us, not just to build better medical software, but to better understand the challenges of caregiving.

Having a diverse community gives us diverse insights in return. Different perspectives help us create a much more well-rounded software that helps a wider range of caregivers and therapists.

Our design strategist Athena Trames recently got the opportunity to speak with her grandmother about her experience taking care of her late husband. Her heartwarming answers are a great example of what it’s like to experience being a new caregiver.

Read through our interview with Sophia Kennedy to see how she made an important impact on her family.

What were the biggest surprises when first learning how to be a caregiver?

“For me, there were no “surprises” in caregiving. The demands of caregiving just kept coming. My husband was an important facet of this situation. I had to fight feelings of guilt that I didn’t recognize him having a big headache. Neither did he. So the surprise, if you will, was just the diagnosis at the ER: so my husband had a stroke and it wasn’t going away. We had to deal with it in the days, months and years ahead.”

How do you balance being a caregiver with your normal life? (being a mother/wife/friend, self-care, work, hobbies, etc.) 

“The most urgent circumstance gets front seat attention. My husband first, then my duties as a granny, nanny, my household duties, my husband’s doctor appointments, grocery shopping, cooking, etc. My love of yoga eventually faded into the background. I squeezed in time to read by having a book in the car while the girls were in soccer practice.

Eventually, in the last two years of my husband’s life, I was overloaded physically and emotionally. I was burning out. Too much going out and not enough coming in. This is hindsight. I would and did give all I had with loyalty and loving respect.

It changed everything.

What is the most rewarding part of being a caregiver?

“Remind yourself that you either volunteered, had no other choice, or were hired on. You’re there to make a difference in someone’s life. They were God’s child first. Remember they are important to someone and not just a day/night job.”

What was the most challenging?

“Many times you feel that one day is much like the other. But in the patient’s hours and days, you may be the only input of raised hope. You have to know that you are not short-changing them. That’s…. To know that you are not short-changing them! And you must fill your inner world with balance and positive thoughts for yourself.

Let love flow out.

You may not feel it, but it’s easy for someone to sense it if you are out of sorts.”

Is there a tool that would have made caregiving easier for you?

“There are different degrees of caregiving. Professional caregiving requires some degree of training. Home caregiving, from a friend or relative, is doing more for others as you would yourself. There are registered nurses who come in for required visits. They ask questions of patients and take notes on blood pressure, heart rate, etc. It would be great to have a booklet on the most asked questions and problem-solving answers in an easy-to-read format. Not just the internet.”

What is the greatest thing you’ve learned about the healing process from your time as a caregiver?

“So many levels of healing! Not only did my husband’s life completely flip from independence to relying completely on someone else – he took it on with courage and dignity.

Healing is a hidden process

One needs body, mind and soul to cooperate for healing.”

Any advice you would recommend to a new caregiver?

“An important aspect of caregiving is to acknowledge the efforts of the patient, and for them to somehow show their respect and joy in receiving this one-on-one help once in a while. Perhaps it’s less likely to happen if related. So, there was no training. Either it got done by me or it didn’t happen. You just do what is necessary. It becomes second nature.

Never treat your situation like it’s an imposition to you. Whether it’s a family situation or a hired position, maintain the dignity of yourself and your patient.”

family, caregiver, therapy, health, elders

We are so thankful for Athena and her grandmother Sophia for sharing this experience with us.

Hearing experiences like this keeps us connected with our mission and reminds us why we do what we do. These stories not only bring us together but provide answers for those finding themselves in a similar situation when caring for a loved one.

As Sophia said, “You’re there to make a difference in someone’s life.” Sharing your experience doesn’t just teach those providing care, it helps those receiving it too.

While you can always connect with us on social media, you can share your caregiving stories in the comment section below too!

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