Set Hammy Free!

Consider my hamster, Hammy, creative name right? Hammy wants out of his
cage more than anything. He looks at me begging with his big, brown, fur-trimmed eyes to puhleeeease let him out. He even makes little whining noises to sound pitiful, hoping to play on my sympathies so he can be released into the wilds of my living room. Hammy thinks if he can get out of his prison, be set free and allowed to roam wherever he wants, he'd be the happiest hamster ever. He doesn't understand why I won't let him out no matter how much he begs. He is oblivious to the danger that would most certainly beset him in the form of a feline named Jade. Jade would not only ruin Hammy's short-lived freedom, she would likely send him straight to hamster heaven. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

Just as I set boundaries for Hammy, sometimes we as caregivers must set boundaries for those we love. They may not understand; may not see the dangers; may get angry at us, but none of that matters. We must stay strong to protect them from the dangers they cannot see.

I am not advocating we live in fear or are afraid of imagined harms. I am talking about real-life dangers caused when a person with limited experience or intellect is placed in a situation above their capacity. For example, we wouldn’t allow a 5-year-old to drive our car, would we? Of course not! Doing so would present a danger to not only them and our car, but they could potentially harm or even kill others. The correct answer would contain a brief explanation of the potential danger followed by a distraction technique. Change the subject, try to interest them in another activity, turn on the tv to their favorite show etc.

Be encouraged dear caregiver. You are protecting your loved one and others when you have to refuse certain requests. It may not make you popular, but it does mean you are showing tough love and that your "Hammy" will live to play another day.

Debbie Compton
Author of Caregiving: How To Hold On While Letting Go – available on

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I am an author, speaker, caregiver, and Grammy. The latter is by far the most fun! Having been a primary caregiver 3x, I realized so many lessons were learned too late to benefit my Dad who passed of Parkinson's Disease. I resolved to write a book to make life easier and safer for other caregivers that would get them ideas, inspiration, and lessons learned. It's called "Caregiving: How To Hold On While Letting Go" available on Amazon. I am a Certified Caregiver Consultant and Advocate as well as a Community Educator for the Alzheimer's Assoc. and Founder of The PurpleVine LLC

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