The Caregiver’s Rights from the American Heart Association have circulated for some time, but they bear repeating as it is so hard to remember oneself as we struggle to care for others, whether ill spouses or aging parents or adult children who are okay on their own without parental advice or consent. When do our rights interfere with the rights of others to make their own choices where they can? When can asserting our rights protect us from well-meaning others who seek to control us? Where is the line between caring and apathy, between love and obligation? I struggle daily.I have the right to take care of myself. This is not an act of selfishness. It will enable me to take better care of others.
I have the right to seek help from others even if my loved one may object.
I have the right to maintain facets of my own life that do not include the person that 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 for myself.
I have the right to feel angry, be depressed and express other difficult emotions, occasionally.
I have the right to reject any attempt by my loved one (either consciously or unconsciously) to manipulate me through guilt, anger or depression.
I have the right to receive consideration, affection, forgiveness and acceptance from my loved one 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 sometimes takes to meet the needs of my loved one.
I have the right to protect my individuality and make a life for myself that will sustain me when my loved one no longer needs 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 toward aiding and supporting caregivers.