Family caregivers comprise the largest volunteer health care workforce in our country at 65 million strong. According to the AARP, the annual societal value for the unpaid hours of care provided is more than $450 billion–$42 billion more than the sales of Wal-Mart, the nations’ largest retailer. With 10,000 people everyday turning 65, the aging of America will create a huge need for families to provide care to a loved one in some capacity. We are dependent on our nation’s caregivers as more seniors will be needing care. We need to recognize and support these volunteers and we need a caregiving movement similar to other movements and milestones in our country’s last century. With this comes a need for a Bill of Rights which serves as a guideline just as our forefathers created for us centuries ago.

  • The right to make decisions on behalf of loved ones and ourselves that support what is best for both of us.
  • The right to have time and activities for ourselves without guilt, fear, or criticism.
  • The right to have feelings that are inherently a part of losing someone.
  • The right to seek options that reasonable accommodate our needs and the needs of our loved ones.
  • The right to be treated with respect by those from whom we seek advice and assistance;the right to expect our loved one(s) to be treated in the same manner.
  • The right to make mistakes and be forgiven.
  • The right to be accepted as a vital and valued member of our families even when our views are different.
  • The right to love ourselves and accept that we have done what was humanly possible.
  • The right to learn what we can do and the time to do it.
  • The right to say good-by before we must finally let go of the ones we love.
  • The right to be free from feelings and thoughts that are negative, destructive, and unfounded;and to work through feelings that are hard to understand.
  • The right to develop our lives again before our endeavor of love is complete.
  • The right to expect “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” even while so much of my time, energy, and attention is going to the care of a loved one.
  • The right to expect the nation’s legislators to acknowledge the valuable service I perform and to enact policies that not only support those with the illness or disability but support family caregivers as well.
SOURCE: Sherri Snelling Posted 07.28.2013 “Let the Caregiving Movement Begin with the Caregiver Bill of Rights”