People might have heard the term but still, wonder- “what is a care giver bill of rights?”. Well, it’s not a formal document fashioned in a court of law. Rather, it is a set of principles that were penned by author Jo Horne. In her book “Caregiving: Helping an Aging Loved One” (1985) she wrote out this list of rights that a care giver has.
It is vital for a caregiver, especially an unpaid one such as a family member, to look this over. Caregivers cannot do everything. In a more clinical setting, there are restrictions on care giving such as shift work. This means the person can have a life outside of their job.
Facing a Loved One’s Illness
However, for others, they fell into care giving seemingly over night. These people were faced with the illness of a loved one, whether a parent or a child and they were the ones that needed to step in. In the case of the elderly, the person might have wanted their parent to have some time at home before they went into a nursing home full time. Some parents who are ill even die at their homes. But even in this case, the person who is caring needs to remember that they are not expected to give up their own lives.
Keep the Balance
A caregiver does have a fulfilling job to do that, but they are also still a human who needs balance. They also have the right to find this balance. They can do this even if their efforts to do so are thwarted by the person with the illness. Because while they need to keep their loved ones safe, they are not required to become emotional wrecks who are shells of their former selves in the process.
Don’t Put Off Dreams
The bill of rights reminds the caregiver that it is alright if they have dreams after this stint is over. They do not need to put off their plans for a future, such as planning to study or online classes. The care giver is allowed to save their money to do what they want in the future too. They don’t need to spend it entirely on the ill person.
There are limits in all professions, and caregivers have theirs. They will be human and have bad days. They need the support that comes from this literature to uphold their value as a human and as an employee. Because often those who are ill are not capable of giving a lot back. Sometimes they are, and those times should be relished and celebrated. But if they are only giving back guilt and depression, then the care giver should not take on those emotions. They do have to stay intact and healthy as an individual, and taking on negative ways of coping and relating are not in the mandate of every caregiver.
The summary of the bill of rights is never a substitute for the real thing. So take a moment as a caregiver to lap in the wisdom that has been passed on from this author to millions of care givers since then.