Your Caregiver’s Bill of Rights

Caregivers come in all genders, ages and races - and, they all have rights.

Caregivers come in all genders, ages and races - and, they all have rights.

Do you provide care for elderly or terminally ill individuals? You might volunteer for a hospice or you may be tending a loved one at home. In any situation where care is provided for a person’s physical or emotional needs, the caregiver may often feel overwhelmed and need help as well.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the origin of the caregiver’s “Bill of Rights,” but one copy of the list below was discovered in the book, Care for the Caregiver, sponsored by Parke-Davis and focused on Alzheimer’s Disease. This book, published in 1994, also provided information to caregivers about the disease and the theories behind its development.

We doubt that the list below originated with that book, but the point is that the Caregiver’s Bill of Rights has been around for at least two decades. Now, it is provided to readers across the Web on various hospice and caregiver sites. Some sites advocate that caregivers also join a support group – especially adult children who care for parents – to help face grief and to deal with stress. Support always is a great idea, no matter if you’re a caregiver at home or in a hospice.

While caregivers face seemingly insurmountable obstacles at times, caregiving also can bring families and friends closer together. We hope you can use the caregiver’s Bill of Rights below to help provide a guideline for building your life in a constructive and healthy way while providing care and solace to your loved ones and patients. You have the right:

  1. To take care of yourself. Caregiving is not an act of selfishness. It will give you the capability of taking better care of your loved one.
  2. To seek help from others even though your loved ones may object. Only you can recognize the limits of your endurance and strength.
  3. To maintain facets of your own life that do not include the person you care for, just as you would if he or she were healthy. You know that you do everything that you reasonably can for this person, and you have the right to do some things just for yourself.
  4. To get angry, be depressed, and express other difficult feelings occasionally.
  5. To reject any attempts by your loved one (either conscious or unconscious) to manipulate you through guilt, and/or depression.
  6. To receive consideration, affection, forgiveness, and acceptance for what you do, from your loved ones, for as long as you offer these qualities in return.
  7. To take pride in what you are accomplishing and to applaud the courage it has sometimes taken to meet the needs of your loved one.
  8. To protect your individuality and your right to make a life for yourself that will sustain you in the time when your loved one no longer need your full-time help.
  9. 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.

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