Don't Let Caregiver Burden Burn You Out
Written by Michelle Nichols
In making the decision to enter into a hospice journey for our animal, one might think that intensive nursing and daily care are the most difficult aspects of the journey. However, for most of us who have decided to take on the commitment of hospice, accepting the joys and the challenges of daily caregiving is second nature to us. Ironically, the most difficult task on our provider “to-do” list is caring for the caregiver, in other words, finding time to administer to our own needs.
It seems very obvious that we need to care for ourselves as we provide for our furry friend when they are coping with end-of-life issues. However, for many of us, our needs are forgotten as we devote ourselves to our primary task at hand. Many caregivers operate from the misconception that any time for self-care is time they are not devoting to their animal companion. However, the reality is that if we are not in great physical, mental or emotional condition, how can we possibly operate at our best?
Every time we get on an airplane, we are given the standard safety speech which always includes the instruction that if you are traveling with someone who requires assistance, you should first put your own oxygen mask on first and then attend to your traveling companion. We all know the reason for this is that we cannot do much for the one we’re assisting if we aren’t breathing ourselves. This same logic applies to us as caregivers – we have to be able to help our animal and can only do so if we are making sure our needs are met first.
Here are a few suggestions to squeeze in a little care for yourself while you are providing hospice assistance to your animal friend:
● Listen to your favorite music, an audiobook, or your favorite podcast to keep your brain alert.
● Sit in the sun for some vitamin D.
● Step onto the grass in your yard to feel “grounded” to the earth’s energy.
● Journal or record your thoughts as you walk this hospice journey.
● Take a warm shower or a bubble bath to help feel rejuvenated.
● Savor your favorite snack.
Allow yourself to care about yourself. Hit the “Refresh” button and come back
rejuvenated. It’s beneficial for both you and your furry friend.
(Blog post photo: Yoshiko and Oji)