Caregiving can be a hard job and sometimes it’s difficult to maintain your own physical and emotional health while caring for a sick loved one. Years ago the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) developed a Bill of Rights to remind caregivers that they have needs too and it’s not only okay – but better – if you address your own needs while caring for your loved one. By allowing yourself the rights stated in this bill you’ll not only feel better, but be a better caregiver.
A Caregiver’s Bill of Right
By Jo Horne
I Have The Right:
To take care of myself. This is not an act of selfishness. It will give me the capability of taking better care of my loved one.
To seek help from others even though my loved ones may object. I recognize the limits of my own endurance and strength.
To maintain facets of my own life that do not include the person I care for, just as I would if he or she were healthy. I know that I do everything that I reasonably can for this person, and I have the right to do some things just for myself.
To get angry, be depressed, and express other difficult feelings occasionally.
To reject any attempts by my loved one (either conscious or unconscious) to manipulate me through guilt, and/or depression.
To receive consideration, affection, forgiveness, and acceptance for what I do, from my loved ones, for as long as I offer these qualities in return.
To take pride in what I am accomplishing and to applaud the courage it has sometimes taken to meet the needs of my loved one.
To protect my individuality and my right to make a life for myself that will sustain me in the time when my loved one no longer needs my full-time help.
To expect and demand 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.
© by Jo Horne, author of CareGiving: Helping an Aging Loved One, published in 1985 by AARP.