Caregivers Have Rights Too: A Caregiver’s Bill of Rights
So much energy and attention go into being a caregiver that we often forget about ourselves and our own needs. It is equally important we care for ourselves, so we can continue to take care of others. We often need to be reminded that as caregivers, we have rights to.
You Have the Right to Take Care of Yourself.
Pay attention to your physical wellbeing. Caregiving can take a serious toll on your health, even if you have no previous medical problems. Poor eating habits, lack of sleep, and continuous stress can exhaust you and put you at risk for fatigue, injury, and illness. Diet, sleep, exercise, and relaxation can help you maintain your health. There are some simple things you can start doing today to start taking care of yourself:
As a caregiver, it’s not uncommon that you may forget to eat. Other times, you might find that it is easier to grab a snack or fast food on the run. Your body needs nutritious meals to maintain your health. Paying attention to what you put into your body can keep you feeling strong and healthy.
Exercise, exercise, exercise!
It helps ease your mind. Taking a break from the tasks of caregiving can help you stay in shape to foster good health. As a caregiver, you confront much stress that can build up if not adequately addressed. Exercise is an excellent way to prevent becoming overwhelmed.
Find Time to Relax.
Relaxing reduces your physical and emotional stress. Your mind and body can function only to a point before they become overwhelmed. Learning to relax is not always as easy as it sounds, but we’ve put together a helpful guide to get you started.
Focus on Your Spiritual Needs Too.
Spirituality means different things to different people. Spiritual health can be sought through formal religion, prayer religion, mediation, soul searching, and social ties with family, friends, and others. Illness and strain may disrupt your sense of meaning, your values, and even your faith. Addressing your own spiritual needs can help you deal with these concerns and open the possibility of growth.
You have the Right to Express Your Feelings.
Caring for a friend or relative can generate many feelings and emotional reactions. You should not feel guilty or ashamed about any of these. You have the right to feel all emotions; these are perfectly normal. Some common feelings often felt by caregivers include Anxiety, anger, depression, frustration, grief, and guilt. Own your feelings, and don’t be scared to express them. Ignoring your feelings is not advisable because they can keep building until you become so stressed you can no longer handle the situation. It would be best if you addressed the feelings you are having.
You Have the Right to Maintain and Keep Your Individuality.
Make Time for Yourself. It would be best if you took some time away not to become overwhelmed by the stresses of caregiving. Even short breaks can restore and renew your emotional energy. However, taking breaks can take some planning so that you can feel secure and comfortable during your time away. You can begin by making a plan of action and arranging alternate care for your loved one for a short amount of time. In time, you will be able to increase the length of your outside activities the more you both become comfortable with your absence. Other things you can do to help maintain your individuality and lose yourself include:
Staying Engaged in Your Social Circle.
Caregivers may find themselves unable to visit with friends or relatives, go out or do the things they enjoy as much as they would like. It is a common complaint among caregivers that they feel socially isolated due to reducing their social contacts and activities. Make sure you make a concerted effort to say ‘YES’ to some social activities and stay in the loop of what your friends are doing.
Count On The Power of Social Support.
As a caregiver, most of your time and attention is probably spent on your relative or friend. You may rearrange other areas of your life to provide the care they need. Other relationships may seem like lower priorities because you are busy or do not want to burden others with your problems. You might also feel that friends no longer message or call as they used due to their discomfort or a loss of things to say. Communication can help some of these challenges and allow you to spend time with friends. Everyone needs the support and love of friends and family to feel less alone, especially caregivers.
Maintain a Life of Your Own.
Spending all your time caring for your loved ones may lead you to resent them and feel like you cannot live your own life. It is just as normal for you to do things without them as before they were diagnosed with their illness. You are an individual with your thoughts, needs, and desires. If you are retired or unable to hold a job because of your caregiving responsibilities, there are plenty of other things you can try, like looking for jobs that allow you to work from home or finding a hobby or activity that you enjoy and do a little every day.
At MJHS, we value both personal and professional caregivers and recognize the critical work you do. That is why we have created these online caregiving resources to help you through this crucial time in your life.
If you need additional help and support caring for your loved one, please feel free to contact MJHS. We can recommend other care options available to you through one of our programs.