The outline of The Caregiver Bill of Rights is great place to start and ought to be empowering to caregivers. It is adapted from CareGiving: Helping an Aging Loved One,
At some point in time, caregivers find themselves completely powerless against their circumstances because they LOVE the person they care for (and in most cases would take their place). Powerless most often is thought of as not having a voice. And what would a caregiver voice? We already know things could be worse.
But in case you wonder, here is a short list of what I have experienced and heard what powerlessness feels like in a care givers life:
We are powerless to grieve.
We are powerless against doctor's schedules.
We are powerless against the clock.
We are powerless against insurance companies.
We are powerless to get help.
We are powerless to afford expensive needs.
We are powerless to afford simple needs.
We are powerless to leave the house.
We are powerless to the school schedule (if we have kids).
We are powerless against extra-curricular (if we have kids).
We are powerless to watch a TV show.
We are powerless to get on Facebook.
We are powerless to read a book.
We are powerless to go to the bathroom.
Does it sound extreme? Yeah, but it is true at some point in time, 1 or more of these is active in the life of a caregiver. Some days are better than others. Some days these make a list of the entire day.
Here is the thing I would recommend. If you're a caregiver, print this out "The Caregiver Bill of Rights" (see link above) and post it where you'll see it (I'm gonna do that today). Even if it is just committing to do 1 thing for yourself in a day, do it. If you are a friend of a caregiver (and I mean a real, hardcore, soled out friend), make a difference by advocating for your friend or family member. Be willing to do what they REALLY need or get a group to help. The most important thing though, is to ASK...and MEAN IT, "How can I help?" (If you can't, don't).
Here is something to think about. Have you ever thought about the first martyr of the New Testament and what his ministry was? It was Stephen (Acts 6:1-15 and he was stoned in chapter 7) and he was the leader of the caregiving ministry of widows in the early church. His ministry wasn't being in front of large crowds or focused on prayer, that was the work of Jesus' 12 apostles. No, Stephen was not in that close group of 12 apostles either! No, he led the ministry to distribute food and care for the widows. In addition he worked healing miracles.
Stephen said yes to caregiving. So do many others. I don't write for me. I write for all the others who say yes, and silently serve. To fellow caregivers, I encourage you to not forget yourself and try to claim some of your rights. To other I ask you to consider how might you support someone in your life who serves silently?
I am not asking for me. I am asking for those who can't.