By: Stephanie Belak LSW, MSW
Caregiving for a sick or terminal pet is never easy. From early morning medications or feedings, daily medication administrations, and vet visits; caregiving is a 24/7 commitment. Caregiving is both emotionally and physically demanding. A caregiver must adequately care for their ill pet, while enduring the pain in knowing their companion is slowly preparing to leave them. For some, caregiving may be the most difficult and exhausting task they have experienced in their life. The anticipation of the loss is the beginning of the grief journey.
In addition to caregiving for a pet, a pet parent must juggle their everyday life obligations. Long work weeks and busy family/social lives may affect our level of caregiving. Sometimes stress and anxiety from external stressors may make us feel as is we are unable to be a caregiver, unable to push forward in this difficult journey, or even unable to cope with life itself. When your caregiving journey gets too difficult to bear and you are in need of someone to talk to… Day By Day is here to support you.
How can you manage caregiving and the stressors that life provides? Unfortunately, there is not “easy fix”, but there are things you can do to assist yourself in managing all of these complex emotions and obligations. Most importantly, be sure you are taking care of YOU. If you, the caregiver, are not healthy, then you will not be able to perform this difficult job. Healthy eating, adequate sleeping, and being sure not to isolate are important points to focus on. Next, it is important to meet your emotional needs by seeking support. Support may include: professional counseling, pet related grief support, or support from friends and family. Lastly, it is important to be an “educated” and organized caregiver. This means to research and understand your veterinarians’ recommendations for care and keep all this information organized and easily accessible. Keeping a journal is always recommended. A caregiving journey that creates a path of least regrets is of utmost importance.