All caregivers face challenges from time to time, sometimes forgetting their personal rights. Family caregivers in particular have their own set of obstacles due to years of personal history and the nature of the relationship. Many family caregivers have trouble taking time for themselves due to feelings of guilt, obligation, love, compassion and/or manipulation.
If one or more of your personal rights are being neglected, you may be experiencing difficulties in your life both inside and outside of your role as caregiver. Caregiving takes a lot of time, compassion, energy, patience, trial and error.
One way to find a healthy balance in a caregiving relationship is by setting reasonable limits and boundaries. Be proud of the accomplishments you have made thus far and continue to not only nourish your relationship with your loved one but also with yourself and your life outside of caregiving. If you are neglecting yourself due to caregiving, it is important to take the time to remind yourself of your caregiver’s bill of rights. After you familiarize yourself with your rights, it will be easier for you to then determine if you are engaging in a healthy and happy caregiving experience.
Caregiver’s Bill of Rights
- I have the right… to take care of myself. Meeting my own needs does not make me selfish, it enables me to take better care of my loved one.
- I have the right… to seek help from others. Help from others may be necessary at times for my well being. Even though my loved one may object to accepting help from someone other than myself, I have the right to take respite when my limits have been reached.
- I have the right… to maintain my own interests. It is important for me to maintain interests and friendships outside of caregiving and I have the right to not feel guilty for doing so.
- I have the right… to have negative feelings sometimes. Caregiving can take a toll on my emotions and it is okay to feel sad, upset or frustrated occasionally.
- I have the right… to not be manipulated. If my loved one tries to guilt or shame me into doing things as he or she see’s fit, I will reject these types of manipulative behaviors.
- I have the right… to feel compassion from others. I deserve to receive consideration, affection, forgiveness and acceptance if my love one has the capacity to do so, as long as I offer these qualities in return.
- I have the right… to take pride in my accomplishments as a caregiver. I feel proud of my efforts to meet the needs of my loved one in a caring and loving way.
- I have the right… to protect my individuality. I need to make a life for myself that will sustain me in the time when my loved one no longer needs my full-time help.
- I have the right… to demand societal progress. I expect that as new strides are made in finding resources to aid physically and mentally impaired persons in our country, similar strides will be made towards aiding and supporting caregivers.
Are you a family caregiver? Share a caregiving story in the comments below.