Many people who act as caregivers, be they professional ones or relatives of the person who needs assistance, tend to get so involved in the life of the person they’re taking care of, that they neglect themselves and put a strain on their physical and mental health. As a result, a lot of people experience caregiver burnout, which is a state of exhaustion, both mental and physical. This state can ultimately even lead to negative emotions and a decrease in the quality of their care. If you’re a caregiver and you want to avoid this situation, you should be aware of your caregiver rights. Today, we’re going to talk about some of the most important ones.
Caregiver Rights You Should Be Aware of
You Have the Right to Care for Yourself
As we’ve already mentioned, the trap in which most caregivers seem to fall is that of not taking care of themselves because they focus too much on the other person. Especially if you live with the person you’re taking care of, you should remember that one of the most important live-in caregiver rights is to also put some time aside for yourself.
A lot of people fear that leaving the ill person alone to do something for themselves even for a short while is selfish. The truth is that it’s so far away from being selfish. If you care for yourself, you will feel more capable to later care for the other person as well. On the contrary, if you forget to look out for your needs, the quality of your care will decrease.
You Have the Right to Have a Personal Life
One of the most important caregivers’ rights, and one that strongly relates to the previous point, is the right to a personal life. It’s normal to have the impulse to put your life on hold whenever someone close to you needs help. It’s also normal to care more for certain patients when you’re a professional caregiver, and to tend to forget about your personal life in the process.
However, both of these attitudes are damaging. You should continue your life as you would if you weren’t in the position of being a caregiver. This might not always be possible, but it should at least be something you attempt to do. As long as you take care of the other person as best as you can, there’s no reason why you should neglect your personal life. This mistake might make you suffer from severe sadness and even depression.
You Have the Right to Express Your Emotions
How many of us hold in our emotions whenever we’re close to someone who is suffering from a serious illness? The idea that you have to filter absolutely everything you say in front of the other person is going to seriously affect your mental and emotional state. Repressing emotions is not at all healthy, and you should learn to express them when you feel the need to. It doesn’t matter if they are emotions of anger, sadness, depression, and so on.
Similarly, even if you don’t necessarily express your emotions in front of the person you’re taking care of, you should at least find a safe place where you can do that. After all, you’re human and can’t program yourself to live your life without feeling emotional.
You Have the Right to Ask for Help
Another extremely important caregiver right is the right to ask other people for help when you feel the situation is out of your control. Especially if you’re a caregiver for a member of your family or a close friend, it is likely that this person only trusts you to take care of them. Consequently, he or she might refuse outside help without realizing the strain that this puts on you.
Even if this is the case, you have to be aware of your own limits. Learn that you can’t possibly do everything by yourself. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness or indifference. It’s a sign that you care too much about the other person to allow the quality of their care to decrease.
You Have the Right Not to Be Manipulated by the Other Person
Whenever people go through the ordeals of a life-threatening disease, they also tend to change their personality at times. This is nothing out of the ordinary considering the situation. However, if they attempt to manipulate you as a caregiver (be it consciously or unconsciously), you have to acknowledge that the right to avoid manipulation is one of the most relevant caregiver rights.
It might be difficult for you to say no to the other person. However, it’s important to set some boundaries. Try to stick to them no matter the tactics that person uses to manipulate you into caving.
You Have the Right to Be Proud of Yourself
Finally, no matter the circumstances that brought you to the life of caregiving, you have the right (and should) be proud of yourself. Not many people would consider this to be an important caregiver right, but it is actually quite necessary. That’s because being a caregiver requires a lot of courage, determination, patience, and empathy for other people. All these qualities should be something you’re proud of. So should be the choice you made to take care of someone who needs you.
Summing Everything Up
No matter whether you are a professional caregiver, or someone who volunteered to take care of a family member or close friend, the caregiver rights we mentioned above apply to all caregivers equally. Caregiving is a truly noble professional, and an equally noble personal choice. Consequently, you should be aware of that while you’re performing it.
Even if there are times when you might be tempted to leave everything aside for the task of taking care of someone, you should never forget how important it is to look out for yourself as well. Not only for your own well-being, but for the well-being of the other person too.