A Caregiver’s Bill of Rights – You are worthy of care too!

alt= sage aging blog caregiver's bill of rights

Caregiver Self-Care Gets Lost

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

Recruiting Support

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 my 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!

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 document for yourself or a friend AND share it with other family members as a reminder that you need their support.

A Caregiver’s Bill of Rights

alt= caregivers bill of rights by Jo Horne sage aging blog

 

 

Liz Craven

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As I’ve been preparing to launch this podcast I’ve enjoyed revisiting stages of my own life and reflecting on how this topic became such a passion for me. While I’ve built my career on helping older adults and their families connect to needed education and resources, my connection to the aging and care process goes much deeper.

Some of my earliest childhood memories are of my own multi-generational family living together in one home. I was 4 or 5 when my grandmother moved into our home to help care for my sisters and I while our parents worked. Soon after, her father and grandfather moved in as well. We had 5 generations living under one roof! That was a beautifully chaotic adventure and knowing what I know now, I have so much respect for what my parents and grandmother did.

Fast forward to age 24. Newly married and pregnant with our first child, I spent several months with my in-laws to help care for my husband’s grandmother who had Alzheimer’s. Fast forward again to about 2009 – Wes and I have two teenagers about to head to college and his mother is diagnosed with cancer. Several years later, my mother is diagnosed with cancer. Several years after that Wes’ stepdad is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and his father is suffering from severe dementia. You can see where this is going right? For the better part of the last 10 years we have been the caregivers. We see it as an honor and privilege to have been able to do that for our parents.

The key to navigating our later years is being proactive about gathering information before we get there and staying engaged once we do. To be sage is to be wise. There is wisdom in taking the time to ask questions, seek solutions and know your options before the need arises.

Each week we will discuss relevant topics of aging with experts who can help us to understand and be better prepared for aging. We’ll also introduce you to some Sage Agers who are totally owning their journeys through life. No topic will be off limits and we will deliver open and honest conversation meant to educate and empower our listeners. Each episode will also be available in video and blog formats.

Whether you are proactively seeking to broaden your own knowledge, a caregiver for a loved one or a professional working in the aging care industry, this podcast is for you. We hope you will join us as we explore and celebrate Sage Aging.