Reflections on Independence Day

This weekend, many American families are celebrating the July 4th holiday with some combination of cookouts, fireworks, family get-togethers, and parades.

But if you’re caring for an elderly relative, this summer holiday can be a bittersweet one. The celebration of our nation’s declaration of independence often comes with the realization that your loved one’s independence is slipping away. And as your loved one becomes more dependent on you, your independence can seem to slip away, too.

But here’s the thing: caring for an elderly loved one doesn’t have to mean giving up your own life in the process. It doesn’t have to mean neglecting your needs or living up to some self-sacrificing ideal.

So, on this Independence Day, as you ponder the audacity of the people who founded our great nation, take a moment to reflect on the Caregiver’s Bill of Rights. Originally published by Jo Horne, author of Caregiving: Helping an Aging Loved One, this list is a great reminder that if we don’t take care of ourselves, we won’t have anything available to give to those in our care.

Caregiver’s Bill of Rights

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 relative.
  • To seek help from others even though my relative may object. I recognize the limits of my own endurance and strength.
  • 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.
  • To get angry, be depressed, and to express other difficult feelings occasionally.
  • To reject any attempt by my relative to manipulate me through guilt, anger, or depression.
  • To receive consideration, affection, forgiveness, and acceptance for what I do for my loved one for as long as I offer these qualities in return.
  • To take pride in what I am accomplishing and to applaud the courage it has sometimes taken to meet the needs of my relative.
  • To protect my individuality and my right to make a life for myself that will sustain me in the time when my relative no longer needs my full-time help.
  • To expect and demand that as new strides are made in finding resources to aid physically and mentally impaired older persons in our country, similar strides will be made toward aiding and supporting caregivers.

Happy Independence Day from the Flammia Elder Law Firm family to you and your family!

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