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Careers in Aging Week - Meet Christe!

March 5, 2019
Categories: Our Community

March 3 - 9 is National Careers in Aging Week. We're celebrating by spotlighting a few of our employees in a variety of positions. Learn what's rewarding about working in this industry from their perspective.

Christe Smith

Lifestyle Enrichment Bus Driver

Panorama employee for 3 years

I’ve always been in the service industry because I enjoy giving back and helping others – plus I just find people interesting. Before taking the position at Panorama, I drove a school bus for thirteen years. After serving small children for so many years, I was looking forward to a change in age demographic. I had never worked with seniors before, but I’ve always been very comfortable with older age groups because my grandparents played a big role in raising me.

In the three years I have worked here, the biggest difference I’ve noticed in the two age groups is how appreciative seniors are. Kids have a tendency to take what you do for granted but the people I serve now are so quick to acknowledge me and my co-workers for the services we’re providing. Whether they have given up driving altogether, or they just prefer the convenience of our group bus trips, everyone is grateful for the added opportunities they have because of what we do. We provide trips to the grocery store, church services, and a wide variety of entertainment venues including live performances in Seattle. It’s rewarding to do this work because I know it allows people to continue the life they’re accustomed to even as aging changes come.

Speaking of aging changes, I’ve learned a lot about getting older since I took this position. As a young person, it’s easy to keep the facts of old age “out of sight and out of mind” but when you spend time with older adults, listening to their stories and their advice, it opens your eyes. They all have great stories to tell but one thing I often hear from them is “Don’t get old.”

They’ve taught me to cherish the things most of us take for granted – my eyesight, good mobility, etc. – because you never know how long you will have those things. Everyone ages and time can take its toll harder than you expect so the best way to move forward is to embrace your life with a positive attitude and not let the challenges that arise define you. One person, who is vision impaired, told me she continues to travel all around the world. I find that so inspiring. This individual, and so many others, have helped prepare me for my own future and aging process.

Working with the residents of Panorama has been so rewarding. It’s more than a job – it’s an extended family. I never thought I would be gaining hundreds of additional grandparents but they have been so supportive by encouraging me to live my best life and by providing the road map through their own stories. I would definitely recommend a career in aging services. It provides a different perspective and the people you serve have so much to share. You will learn more from their experience than you ever could from books or the internet. Advice I would give to someone who has never worked with older adults? Don’t call them “cute” or treat them like children. They are adults, not frail objects, and they deserve respect. 

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