Caregiver Self-Care: Why You Should Create a Caregiver Bill of Rights

caregiver reads page with older man

by Susan Stiles for NCOA

A first and very important step in self-care is to establish your own Caregiver Bill of Rights. You’ve gotten the checklist from your care recipient’s health care team on how to care for them. Now, it’s time to put down on paper how you want to care for yourself and what support you need. Your Caregiver Bill of Rights is a list of declarative statements that you proclaim for yourself in the context of your role as a caregiver. Many of these rights you tend to take for granted because, as a caregiver, you often forget about your own personal needs when you are down in the weeds of daily caregiving.

The rights in your list can be anything you choose, but they should be focused on improving your personal health and wellness, building healthier relationships with friends and family, and reducing your caregiver burden level—all actions that will allow you to become a better and more loving caregiver. There is no right or wrong way to do a Caregiver Bill of Rights. It should be an expression of your own needs and personality.

Sample Caregiver Bill of Rights

I have the right:

  1. To take care of myself so that I can better take care of my relative.
  2. To get angry and express difficult feelings.
  3. To maintain facets of my own life that do not include my relative.
  4. To seek help from others even though my relative may object.
  5. To reject any attempt by my relative (either conscious or unconscious) to manipulate me through guilt, anger or depression.
  6. To take part in activities that improve my health and well-being.

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