Tomorrow is my birthday!
I’m celebrating another 50+ birthday tomorrow.
Instead of feeling older, I feel wiser. I’ve been on this earth for over a half century.
Gee, when I put it that way, I feel OLD!
Anyway, I get to do what I want on my birthday.
The problem is I’ve allowed life’s responsibilities to get in the way.
Beyond my work, I still have caregiving responsibilities–this time, for Narenge, an aging kitty cat who adopted my husband, David, and me when he was 5 in 2003. He came to us with FIV. Then almost 2.5 years ago he was diagnosed with lymphoma of the spleen.
We don’t know how, but he’s still alive. Even the veterinarian is surprised.
We think it’s due to the quality of care he receives.
Who wouldn’t live longer when almost every need is met?
Every few hours Narenge (NAH-reenj) lets us know he expects to be fed (fresh food), petted, massaged, and even bathed (he enjoys getting scrubbed with a couple of wet paper towels). He purrs when I clean inside his ears and he enjoys it when David trims his claws.
Caregivers can learn from our kitty.
Meow your specific request.
People want to help, they just don’t know how. Describe specifically what you need them to do for you. Like Narenge, look at them with wide and earnest eyes when you make the request.
Insist on others’ help for a change of pace.
Others’ help will be a change of pace for your care recipient. Our kitty will find his way on our guests’ laps and purr loudly. Who would stop giving him attention with this kind of grateful feedback? Just my brother-in-law, because he is allergic.
While your care recipient gets a little attention from others, take this time to do something for yourself. Get together with a friend for lunch, watch a movie, or read a good book. For a little respite, also consider an in-home caregiver or adult day care. Although, I’ve used these services with my father, I have not tried this with Narenge.
Show your appreciation.
Like Narenge, look at them appreciatively. Be thankful (Narenge purrs) when your needs are met so people are encouraged to continue helping you.
Birthdays are a good time to take care of YOU.
My husband, whose birthday was this weekend and I celebrated with a caregiving friend (whose birthday was the weekend before). We saw a movie then went out to dinner. It was a delightful change of pace and only took a few hours.
After taking care of yourself, you’ll be able to better care for another.
When we returned home, we had the energy to fill the needs of our demanding kitty who was meowing loudly. David went straight to the kitchen to feed him then I held and petted him while David cleaned his litter box. Finally, he settled down on his favorite place–David’s lap.
Brenda Avadian, MA
P.S. Gotta go now and take care of Narenge.