The Value of Pets in the Caregiver Process

The Value of Pets in the Caregiver Process

[by Francis C. Rodriguez]

The caregiver process… taking care of an ill loved one… is an up and down ride minute by minute. There are good days when your loved one is coherent, not in a lot of pain, and seems to be the familiar person you’d grown up with. There are days… even moments, when your loved one is a stranger, seems to be inconsolable or even mean.

It’s often difficult to separate out the pieces of yourself and your loved one during these fluctuating times. But I remember so clearly the times when something so simple as a grandchild or a pet could cause a moment of solace and glee!

I remember two pets in particular who brought joy and love to my ill parents. One was my dog, Oso Bear. He was a red-haired chow who captured my whole family’s heart from the first moment! I actually thought I’d have to go to court to get custody of him from my Mama and Daddy (and brothers!) because everyone had wanted him!

My Mama and Daddy and I came to an agreement that while I was at work, they could have Oso with them. And it was so good for them both!  For Daddy, Oso burrowed under his legs, waiting to be petted. Daddy, even with his Parkinson’s disease, would pet Oso with his shaky hands. But Oso hadn’t cared. He loved the touch and it was great for Daddy as well!  For Mama, Oso provided protection and security. She knew that Oso protected them; scaring strangers away from the door with his deep bark. If Daddy needed help, Oso would let Mama know.

The second little miracle came in the form of a kitten!  By that point, Daddy had passed and Mama had become the ill loved one I cared for. My siblings and I consulted with each other about getting Mama a pet. We weren’t sure if it would be a dog or cat until we’d gone to the local animal shelter and looked around. There, we found a Siamese kitten.  I remember the look on Mama’s face when we brought the kitten home to her. Mama’s eyes opened wide with excitement! We felt the magic burst throughout the room. She named the kitten Milkshake and it stayed by her side almost every moment. Mama really loved playing and petting that cat, and it was an experience of more smiles and mutual love!

Pets helped us all. Besides giving unconditional love and affection to our ill loved one, we, the caregivers, benefited as well. We saw our loved ones happier but also, we appreciated the love we received from those furry little angels, too!

About the Author

Frances is an author and speaker. She was a caregiver for her mother for five years and can relate first-hand to issues and challenges of the growing population of those who care for their ill loved ones. She is inspired by her mother, Flora, and her family of seven brothers and sisters. Her website, Caregiver Basics, is about helping caregivers to not feel alone through stories and a Google community for and about supporting those who give care and providing helpful tips and resources. Visit her website to sign up for updates and her newsletter at http://www.caregiverbasics.net.

Article Source: The Value of Pets in the Caregiver Process

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