In the never-ending tasks of caregiving, we lose sight of the fact that family caregivers have a right, indeed an obligation, to keep a life for themselves. Here at Springpoint at Home, we understand the challenges family caregivers face in fulfilling this obligation and we are here to help.
The most difficult step is to give yourself permission to have a life of your own, because that means putting yourself first. The next step is to determine how best to protect the life you have while still being open to making changes where and when necessary.
The bits of life you keep and re-create during caregiving will look different for every person. A true assessment of your needs and wants is the place to start. This means no self-editing or thinking about the kind of caregiver you “should” be, but being honest about the kind of caregiver you CAN be.
Do you need to continue to work full time? Do you need to have time away from your care partner? Springpoint at Home’s Certified Home Health Aids can be the support system that allows you to continue living your life.
Do you need to have a support system for Instrumental Activities of Daily Living like shopping, paying bills, or being there to talk to when life is overwhelming? Springpoint a Home’s Aging Life Care Advisors™/Care Managers can be your support system for these IADLs.
When you create a care plan for yourself that is based on keeping a life during caregiving, you can see where boundaries need to be set. You can better comprehend where you need help, and then ask the best person for that help. You can be honest about the emotions that come with caregiving and express them to people who understand with whom you feel safe.
Here is a “Caregiver Bill of Rights” from the Family Caregiver Alliance. Take a moment to read it, print it out, and put it somewhere you will see it every day.
I have the right…
- To take care of myself. This is not an act of selfishness. It will give me the capacity to take better care of my relative.
- To seek help from others even though my relative may object. I recognize the limits of my own endurance and strength.
- To maintain facets of my own life that do not include the person I care for, just as I would if he or she were healthy. I know that I do everything that I reasonably can for this person, and I have the right to do some things for myself.
- To get angry, be depressed, and express other difficult feelings occasionally.
- To reject any attempt by my relative (either conscious or unconscious) to manipulate me through guilt, anger, or depression.
- To receive consideration, affection, forgiveness, and acceptance for what I do for my loved one for as long as I offer these qualities in return.
- To take pride in what I am accomplishing and to applaud the courage it has sometimes taken to meet the needs of my relative.
- To protect my individuality and my right to make a life for myself that will sustain me in the time when my relative no longer needs my full-time help.
- To expect and demand that as new strides are made in finding resources to aid physically and mentally impaired older persons in our country, similar strides will be made toward aiding and supporting caregivers.
- To ___________________________________________________.
(Add you own statement of rights to this list)
Read this list to yourself every day.
Life during caregiving will look different from the life you had before caregiving. But with a care plan for yourself and support systems like Springpoint at Home’s Certified Home Health Aids and Aging Life Care Advisors™/Care Managers, you can keep a life during caregiving. And that makes all the difference in the world after caregiving ends.