The process of finding the right Senior Community, and all the other resources that are needed during that transition can be very overwhelming. We know, because we’ve navigated it ourselves. When Mark’s Grandmother had a stroke, his Mom was the main Caregiver and as a family we had no idea what options and resources were available. We saw firsthand the impact of Caregiver Stress and we knew there had to be a better way. That’s why we created SUNWAYS…it’s the service we wish our family had.
When we started, we were looking for an opportunity to not only make a difference the Senior community, but to also provide a service that would make a positive impact on Caregivers of all ages during an extremely stressful time. We’ve been able to apply our experience in recruiting as “information brokers” to help someone go through a major transition in their life and become a shoulder to lean on for support and guidance.
Generally speaking, SUNWAYS is a "Placement Service", as senior housing communities pay us a referral fee when we refer a client to them and they move in. That said, it’s been important to us from Day 1 that we were much more than that. When we were going through this process as a family, we needed more than just a community and we know we aren’t the only ones.
We pride ourselves on meeting our Seniors and Caregivers “where they’re at” in the journey…and honestly, a community may not be what’s needed at this time or it may just be a small piece of the puzzle. We still can, and want to help. That’s why we also refer clients to in-home care providers and resources like move managers, elder care lawyers, support groups, adult day cares and the countless other things needed during this time. Our highly vetted network of partners are able to serve our clients and the SUNWAYS concierge service helps “project manage” it the whole time.
Because of our business model, we are able to stay 100% FREE for families. It has become our mission to be the link that connects Seniors and their Caregivers to the care and resources they need. Since starting on this journey to create SUNWAYS, we have seen firsthand how important this work is and how impactful it can be. It’s made us extremely passionate about getting our message out and making sure everyone possible knows that our service is here to help because we know the difference it can make.
So if you or a loved one is on this journey and interested in finding out more information about care options and resources, please reach out to us. And if you’re not, we can guarantee you know someone who could use our services! Please share any way you can…forward one of our emails, text the link to this blog post, share one of our social media posts. Let them know that they are supported. It takes a village and we are more than happy to be part of yours!
One of the first things people say to us when they find out Mark and I work together is “I could never do that! How do you make that work?” And honestly, it’s a tough question! I’ll admit, it isn’t all unicorns and rainbows! Patience, respect and a sense of humor all play a BIG role. But the other day I found myself in a conversation with a friend who also works with her husband and we noticed there were some commonalities that help us see success.
Stay In Your Lane.
We all have strengths and weaknesses. One of the hardest, and most rewarding parts of starting your own business is having to take an honest look at what you’re good at, and the things you’re not. Mark and I are lucky to balance each other and pick up the slack in the areas one of us is weak. On the other hand, while I excel in networking, social media, face to face meetings and short term strategy, he excels in operations, finances and taking dreams and giving them achievable steps. We’ve found “our lanes”. More importantly, we stay in them. I don’t try to take over the operations or finances and he doesn’t try to micromanage my social media campaigns. We respect each other’s roles and let each other do what we do best.
Would You Talk to a Co-Worker That Way?
Sometimes its hard to tell where “spouse” ends and “colleague” begins. It’s easy for the argument...errrr I mean discussion…about the Marketing flyer format to turn into who unloaded the dishwasher last. Don’t let it. If you wouldn’t speak to a co-worker at an office that way, you shouldn’t be speaking that way to your spouse. Keeping communication respectful is critical.
Give Yourself Some Space.
Living and working together means a lot of time together…A LOT. Luckily, I really like my husband so most of the time that’s not a problem! That said, we need time to ourselves. We each usually carve out 3-4 times a month that we are going out with friends on our own. Its also common that one of us will work from a coffee shop or remote office space. Its amazing the difference getting some space makes.
Put Aside Time To Dream Together
Its so easy to get caught in the day to day routine of keeping a marriage, family and business afloat. But really, we don’t just want to stay “afloat”; we want to thrive. And that takes a vision, goals and dreams. One thing Mark and I have always been good at is coming together and re-charging by talking about where we are, how far we’ve come and where we’re going. Truth be told, usually this is over a glass of wine, or 2. But taking time to do this creates an “us against the world” momentum that’s unstoppable and so important for long term success.
Have you ever worked with your spouse? Could you?
Some call it karma, others call it just being a decent human being. Either way, Mark and I believe deeply in the idea of what you put out into the world, comes back to you…usually 10 fold. We’re not sure if the term “Karma Economy” is an actual thing, but it should be! In our personal lives, as well as business, it’s been important to us to be focused on helping as many people possible and driving as much positivity we can to those around us. We’ve always found the cliché to be true: the more you give, the more you receive.
When we started SUNWAYS, we wanted to create a way we could guarantee that we were giving back to the community that has given so much to us. From day 1, even before our first invoice was ever sent, we pledged to donate a portion of our proceeds back to local organizations who were making a difference. To us, it was good karma.
Currently our donations go directly to Designing Daughters of Sarasota (https://www.designingdaughterssarasota.com/). I (Elli Baldwin) served as President of Designing Daughters and currently sit on their Advisory Board. DD has been around for 10 years and is a group of volunteers that raise as much money as we possibly can all year, and give every cent away. In 2018, DD raised $90,000 and donated it to 30 local non-profits serving thousands of people in our community.
Personally, Mark and I believe greatly in the Designing Daughters mission, but also love that our donation can impact so many diverse causes and missions. Plus, we think its another reason our Partners, Clients and their Caregivers can all feel good working with us knowing they are paying it forward to so many others in need.
We definitely feel a shift in our society leaning more towards a “Karma Economy”…even if we just made that up! It’s one where people are craving Companies that have deep roots in their purpose and strive for a greater good that benefits not just themselves, but the consumer and society as a whole.
We’re proud to be one of them and are excited to see how many lives we can impact in the journey!
1 in 8 Americans 40-60 years old are part of the “Sandwich Generation”, and many aren’t even aware of the term. It describes those who are the main Caregiver for a child and an aging parent, and they’re literally sandwiched by their responsibility to care for both. A Pew Research Center study found that almost 50% of all adults in their 40s & 50s have at least 1 parent over 65 while also raising/financially supporting a child. And this number is just growing…rapidly! With Baby Boomers entering retirement age and living longer, the number of people over 65 is set to double in the next 25 years and it’s the Sandwich Generation that is poised to care for them.
Many times, it’s the Caregivers who are part of this Sandwich Generation that come to us for help. They’re overwhelmed and exhausted physically and emotionally. There’s guilt of being “not enough”. There’s the physical toll it takes on them. There’s the financial burden of being the main Caregiver for their children and aging parent(s) while usually working a full time job.
So we’re left asking: Who’s caring for the Caregivers? Who’s supporting the Sandwich Generation with the resources they need?
What we’ve realized on our journey of building SUNWAYS, is that the answer is “Us”. We are. We will be the shoulder to lean on, person to call and service that the Caregivers of the Sandwich Generation can depend on to get them the information, resources and support they need. We want to give a voice to this underserved group of people who are usually too busy or tired to even ask for help. It’s become crystal clear to us that this mission is our purpose.
Our passion is to not only serve the Sandwich Generation with services and resources they need, but to educate them. We meet so many people everyday that are part of this group that don’t even know a service like SUNWAYS exists. That’s a big reason why we are focusing on things like this blog, email lists and social media to try to get our message to the people who need it them most.
So if you find yourself part of the Sandwich Generation, know that we’re here for you and as a free service you can reach out to us anytime. And if you know someone who is part of this special group of Caregivers, share this blog post with them and give them a hug while you’re at it…we have a feeling they could use it!
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Elli is the President of Sunways and loves spending time outside with her family, and is passionate about cooking and holistic health.