The Caregiver’s Bill of Rights was written by Jo Horne, author of Caregiving: Helping an Aging Loved One. With good reason, Horne’s bill of rights grew a life of its own. Life as a family caregiver comes with an overwhelming amount of responsibility. As a result, caregivers can find themselves swimming in a sea of stress and overwhelm. Of the 53 million caregivers in America (one in five adults), 23 percent find it hard to take care of their own health. Consequently, caregiving has made their own health worse. (AARP Caregiving in the US 2020)
It’s understandable that caregiver self-care gets lost in the mix. However, maintaining fitness, nutrition, mental health, relationships, social life, and all of life’s “normal” elements is important. At least to some degree. The best way to accomplish that is to recruit support from family, friends, and outside organizations. It may seem easier to “just do it yourself” sometimes, but I can tell you from experience, setting the stage for help is a game changer! There are many ways to do this. Here are our favorites:
Keep a running list of tasks others can help with. When someone asks how they can help, send them the list. They will chip in where they feel most comfortable.
Make a visitation schedule and ask family members and close friends to choose a slot. While they are visiting with your loved one, take a break and use the time for YOU!
Take advantage of community resources. Organizations like Meals on Wheels, adult daycares or senior centers, respite programs, and other community resources can help your loved one maintain some independence. This is a win for them and for you! To find community resources in your area, your local Area Agency on Aging is a good place to start.
Caregivers Have a Right to Self-Care
It isn’t a bad thing for caregivers to take their roles seriously. However, striking a balance is a much better path for both the caregiver and the loved one(s) they care for. The Caregiver’s Bill of Rights is a great tool to help family caregivers remember they are important too. It’s a good reminder to take care of themselves and pay attention to their own needs.
Print this for yourself or a friend AND share it with other family members as a reminder that you need their support.
Liz Craven, along with her husband Wes, owns Pro-Ad Media, publisher of Sage Aging ElderCare Guide, serving the local community for over 28 years. Liz lives in Lakeland and is very active in the local community, specifically in the area of aging. Liz serves on a number of local boards and committees including the Lakeland Vision and Age Friendly Lakeland.