A Caregiver’s Bill of Rights
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.
…seek help from others even though my loved one may object. I recognize the limits of my own endurance and strength.
…maintain facets of my own life that do not include the person I provide care for, just as I would if he or she were healthy. I know that I do everything I can for this person and I have the right to do some things just for myself.
…get angry, be depressed and express other difficult feelings occasionally.
…reject any attempt by my loved one [either conscious or unconscious] to manipulate me through guilt, anger or depression.
…receive consideration, affection, forgiveness and acceptance for what I do for my loved one for as long as I offer these qualities in return.
…take pride in what I am accomplishing and to applaud the courage it has sometimes taken to meet the needs of my loved one.
…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.
…expect and demand that as new strides are made in finding resources to aid physically/ mentally challenged and ill persons in our country, similar strides will be made toward aiding and supporting caregivers.
CARING FOR YOURSELF IS NO OPTION!
▪ Learn to love yourself at least as well as you love your neighbour.
▪ Take a little time for yourself each day and a big hunk of time at least once a week.
▪ Recognize your own self worth.
▪ Recognize you own needs and limitations.
▪ Drop the need to be responsible for everyone else’s happiness and concentrate on your own.
▪ Learn to conserve your vital energy.
▪ Pamper yourself once in a while, especially on ‘bad’ days.
▪ Be patient and considerate with yourself. Be gentle with yourself.
▪ Nurture your spiritual side, pursue those things which are uplifting to you. Do the common sense things like eat right, exercise and get plenty of rest.
▪ Take it a day at a time.
▪ Put into practice some of the good advice you give to others.
▪ Develop that part of you that wants to laugh. Seek out the humour in life and above all else take yourself lightly.
▪ Take a day off to be well. Don’t wait until your body collapses.
▪ Pay attention to what your body is telling you. Is it tired, stressed, tense?
▪ Learn to leave your worries where they belong.
▪ Develop a strong support network for yourself.
▪ Give yourself some real relaxing moments through meditation, relaxation techniques, massage, beautiful music, etc…
▪ Learn stress-reducing techniques and use them.
▪ Set limits. Say ‘no’.
▪ Do what you need to do for yourself and not what you and everyone else think you should do.
▪ Give yourself a break in more ways than one.
▪ Don’t have unrealistic expectations of yourself.
▪ Don’t hesitate to reach out for help either from a friend or a professional.
You are the most important person in your life – face that realization; that is not being selfish. You are the only one who can truly care for you.
How can you care for anyone else if you can’t care for your own self?
By: Jinny Tesik, M.A.– ‘Caring for Yourself is No Option!’ – White Rock Hospice Society