Caregiver Breathing

As so many of you are all too aware, caregiver breathing is different from all other types of respiration. Often, we find ourselves in a holding pattern while checking on, or listening to, the breathing of our charges regardless of age or challenge. In the past few weeks you may have caught yourself, as I have on numerous occasions, synching to someone else’s irregular pattern. Or worse, you may have found yourself NOT breathing at all, while waiting for indicators or numbers to appear. If fortunate enough to catch this, maybe we remembered to inhale and exhale deeply before symptoms of oxygen deprivation appeared.

Ironically full deliberate caregiver breathing, is the antidote for almost every negative situation. Deep breathing has a way of keeping times of distress from escalating and providing clarity in moments of agitation, confusion, or re-invented memory. Caregiver breathing is also the quickest route to relaxation both in the middle of the night and during times of fear or worry.

Encouraging caregiver breathing IS one way that anyone can help. If you are speaking on the phone to a caregiver who sounds rushed, speedy, or like they are out of breath, you can help just by taking a breath yourself, or mention a reminder to breathe. If you are physically present and it is appropriate, offer us a moment while you are available with whoever the recipient of care may be, or if possible take a walk around the block with us.

This week life saving resuscitation came in the form of my amazing daughters, who’s help managing activities of daily living freed up a few hours for us to escape to Crane Beach. It was a chilly blustery holiday filled with sunshine and laughter. While exploring the shoreline, a feeling of peace translated into an act of spontaneity. Placing my back on the sand, tight contracted muscles slowly unfurled into a full relaxed state. From my spot I could see the girls happily engaged in their own relaxation and felt free to care for myself. Exhaustion and worry drained into the sand and sank deep into the earth. I felt myself breathing fully, evenly, and deeply for the first time in days. It was glorious. It was a remarkable time of healing and recovery made possible by these angels of goodness, whom I have always loved.

Spending time with ‘my girls’ has promoted a renewed ability to call up this sensation on demand especially when faced with rapid shallow breathing that is not mine. I hope you enjoy our adventure (made possible by DKIII ¬†technology) as much as we did. And no we didn’t get a new dog, the pooch in the pics is our friend Ariquipe’ (AKA – Quip-sake, Qui-pay, or Ariq) who has joined Thunder and Molly in loving us up for a couple of weeks.

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About blessedbebeth.com

Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker focussed on aging well and promoting positive end of life experience.
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10 Responses to Caregiver Breathing

  1. terry1954 says:

    i have not heard of this caregiver breathing, but i do relate with the listening and watching everything and sound

    • Caregiver breathing is what I call it. I have observed it in myself and others. I was reminded of it the other night, while visiting a friend with a child who has seizures. Every time the sounds on the baby monitor changed even slightly, I observed her holding her breath. I do the same thing when I am checking on my mom in the night to see if she is breathing, and when I wait to see her heart rate in the mornings. I was pretty sure this “listening and watching everything and sound” was something you would relate to. Blessings to you Terry. z

  2. Amy Lapetina says:

    Loved it; loved the video, loved the pictures and loved the reminder to breathe deeply.

    • Sometimes it feels like this is the only thing I have control of. Many thanks for your fabulous support of my mom and girls yesterday, it meant a great deal to me. You are a wonderful friend.

  3. Sylvie says:

    Beth, this is just a good reminder for all of use to breathe… when we are there for others all the time it is so easy to forget the simplest of things…it’s true, if I can remember to do it, it is the fastest way to relaxation as you said…and it’s free :) Love your writing as usual. Glad to hear about the visit from the girls :)

    • sadly true. Hope your little guy is continuing his remarkable progress and come back. I know this has been a tough time for you all. love and blessings.

    • Shawna says:

      Amazing pictures, Beth – it was so good to see the girls all grown-up. and so** amazing to see crane beach and the colour of the waves….hopefully we’ll be there soon enough…! until then…we’ll breathe…

      • They are that, all grown up. It is hard to believe. They have become friends and kindred spirits. Good to know I had some positive effect however small. It was soooo good to be back ‘home’ at the beach. Looking forward to being their soon with you and or you and silverino. Did you give any more thought to your previous observations from the earlier post?

  4. Erin Martinovich says:

    I had watched your video and read this yesterday, and last night had the chance to experience this sensation. It really is astonishing how we share the very act of breathing when there is concern or care. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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