The month started off with a bang – literally.
I general inquiry went out by a family friend asking if we knew anyone who could watch their dog while they were away. The trip was a last minute adventure and they were having trouble finding a dog sitter. I recommended a friend, they met with her and all was well in doggy land. Our friends left on their 2 week trip on Friday. Saturday morning I received a phone call that the pet sitter and the dog had been in a car accident. The dog was uninjured but it turns out the sitter had a broken foot. Not what you need when you are watching a big, friendly dog who needs to go out for walks. In the matter of a split second, the care was it and the caregiver became one who needed care.
Alternative arrangements were made for the dog. Except for a close encounter with a skunk (only sprayed the window and not the dog itself) the new caregivers enjoyed having the dog and the dog enjoyed his stay. When the family returned they were so pleased that all had worked out and that everyone had stepped forward to help take “care” of their dog.
My husband and I took a few days of our holiday and went to visit my daughter and see her boyfriend’s farm. I realized then how much we take for granted and how much care giving a farmer provides. Feeding and watering the livestock. Preparing and harvesting crops to provide food for both humans and the livestock. A lot of care and attention goes into the preparation of the animals and harvest for human consumption. I had the opportunity to bottle feed a calf, providing nourishment and some TLC. The day we left, one of the sows gave birth and my daughter and her boyfriend had to provide help to a piglet that needed special attention. All of these actions I believe fall under the realm of “Caregiver.”
The month continued with so many examples of care giving being demonstrated, that there were just too many to write about. I noticed one common denominator; those providing care have a lot of responsibility that can be very stressful at times. It may be unanticipated stress such as the car accident and the rush to make alternative arrangements for a pet. It can be the surprise visit from a skunk and the resulting aftermath. It can be from the career we have chosen and all of the responsibilities for caring for those who are impacted by what we do.
In some way or another I believe we are all caregivers. Caregiver fatigue is something that can happen to all of us. Caregivers can become stressed, worn out, depressed, isolated… Being mindful of the potential for it may help you our a loved one avoid its effects.
September is a time when things ramp up again after the summer holidays. Remember that we are all caregivers in some form or another. Taking care of ourselves is as important as the role we play as the caregiver.
Caregiver scores 15 in scrabble. What is your score? How many people and pets and things rely on you as a caregiver? Life is not a scrabble game so avoid those double and triple letter squares that increase your score and risk of caregiver fatigue.
Suggestions for things that can help avoid caregiver fatigue:
Go for a walk in nature
Arrange for someone to come in and replace you for a period of time so you can get a break if you are not getting time for yourself.
Spend some time with friends. If you can’t get out with your friends have them come to you. The person you are caring for usually knows that you need the break and appreciates your friends coming over to chat and laugh.
Get a massage
Get or give yourself a manicure and/or pedicure.
Give yourself Reiki or go for a Reiki treatment. Better yet – do both!
Do anything that helps you to Relax, Relieve stress and pain, Rejuvenate.