The Caregiver Bill of Rights is a beautifully written pledge for anyone who is giving of themselves to care for a loved one.
As caregivers to a pancreatic cancer patient, we know all too well how easy it is to lose yourself in the unrelenting demands of the terminally ill. It's not their fault, nor is it yours. Cancer's cost is high, bankrupting many, emotionally and physically.
The Caregiver Bill of Rights compassionately and pointedly highlights the need for the caregiver to be assertive when it comes to their own well-being, for the sake of not only their loved one, but also themselves.
I have a copy printed out and in our medical notebook as a reminder. I speak it often to my Dad, especially when things get hectic and chaotic. Mom does not want to be a burden to us, and she would be the first to applaud these directives. So take them to heart!
I have the right to take care of myself. This is not an act of selfishness. It will give me the capability of taking better care of my loved one.
I have the right to seek help from others even though my loved ones may object. I recognize the limits of my own endurance and strength.
I have the right 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 just for myself.
I have the right to get angry, be depressed, and express other difficult feelings occasionally.
I have the right to reject any attempts by my loved one (either conscious or unconscious) to manipulate me through guilt, and/or depression.
I have the right to receive consideration, affection, forgiveness, and acceptance for what I do, from my loved ones, for as long as I offer these qualities in return.
I have the right to take pride in what I am accomplishing and to applaud the courage it has sometimes taken to meet the needs of my loved one.
I have the right to protect my individuality and my right to make a life for myself that will sustain me in the time when my loved one no longer need my full-time help.
I have the right to expect and demand that as new strides are made in finding resources to aid physically and mentally impaired persons in our country, similar strides will be made towards aiding and supporting caregivers.
This Bill of Rights has an uncertain authorship. In many places it is attributed to Jo Horne, but in other places it is listed as author unknown.
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