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Caregiver Rights: Having a Life of Your Own
#1 Caregiver Rights – having a life of your own.
Caring is a valuable and rewarding role. It is a role in which you can become very easily socially isolated. As a caregiver, you spend the majority of your time thinking about the well being of another person. You do this rather than think about yourself. It becomes hard to keep up with life outside of care giving. Friends become a second thought. You must remember, there will be life after care giving.
Because you are worth it…
It is so important to realize early on that value of having and taking some time to yourself. Even just a few hours can make all the difference in your own quality of life. It is important to understand that while we support keeping you and keeping your family member at home as long as possible, we do not support providing that care at the expense of the family care givers physical, emotional or financial well being.
Many care givers consistently say that having a life outside of care giving allows them to be able to be more able to cope with the daily struggles of care giving.
Something to think about…
What is it you like to do? Go to book club? Garden? Catch up with friends? Go to a ball game with the kids? Maybe take an adult education course to learn a new skill at the local community college or even online?
Maybe it is just to go to a care giver support group to make friends with others who share similar experiences and understand your situation.
Make it happen…
You are definitely going to need help with care giving in order to get time for yourself. It is also important to understand that many seniors become more and more narcissistic as they get older. All that matters to them is that they have their needs met at that moment. You, as a care giver, may allow yourself to feel as if you are the only one that can provide that care.
This attitude could not only be unhealthy but detrimental to your health. Realize early on that you may need to get some help with care giving in order to get so time for yourself. Here is a caregiver stress test. Monitor your stress levels often.
More on Caregiver Rights…
Facing the future
The only thing for sure in care giving is that nothing stays the same. No one knows what the future holds, but for care givers, there is one thing that is for certain. The person that you are taking care of will change over time.
It is so important that you as a care giver realize that you are the eyes and ears for the health care professionals. You will become the expert, teaching them about your specific dementia. Do not assume that your doctor or other health care professionals will know about these changes. Do not expect your family member to share any information with their doctor when you are not present. It is important that you have good communication with the family members treating physicians and treatment team.
And that you make the team aware of what your long and short-term goals are, and to ask what your family members long term care needs will be. This will benefit you, as well as your family member.
When your role changes…
There may come a time when your family member can no longer remain at home. You will find that your situation has changed dramatically. Your role will change from hands on care giver to that of advocate for your family member.
Many family care givers find this role a difficult transition. Many feel even more exhausted. The care giver is traveling between the care home, visiting and helping, then returning to do the everyday chores necessary to run a home.
The care giver must get to know the new staff and administration, and get your family member settled as well as deal with how the finances may be affected now that your family member is out of the house. It is a lot for a person to deal with all at once.
When care giving ends
There is life after care giving. A time will come when it will come to an end. It is so important that you prepare for that moment. In the case of caring with someone with dementia, it is because the person has died.
As a care giver, you have been focusing on someone else’s needs for a long time. Life can be extremely hard to adjust to after caring for someone for so long.
Please contact us for information on useful organizations to help you cope with grief and bereavement.
Care Giver Relief is an organization dedicated to helping the millions of families caring for a family member with dementia at home.