On the simplest level speaking up is about raising the sound of our voice so others can better hear us. Speaking up helps solve our problems. It’s how we learn and bring about change. During the course of a typical day, we probably speak up quite a bit. When it comes to family caregiving, however, many of us tend to be very quiet. We don’t tell our children that we need help caring for their dad. We don’t tell our boss we would like to have a more flexible schedule. We don’t listen to our instincts when speaking to medical professionals and, as a result, don’t ask the right questions.
Speaking up tends to be hard for family caregivers because we are often on uncertain ground. We question our knowledge and our actions. In addition, we often don’t get to talk with other family caregivers to boost our confidence.
How do we speak up?
- We need to come from a position of confidence and tell ourselves “I can do this.”
- We need to come from a position of anger—not too much, as that can be counterproductive - but just enough to say, “I am not going to take this anymore,” or “I cannot do this anymore.”
- We need to come from a place of knowledge so we can speak with some authority.
- We need to believe that speaking up for our rights is critical if we and our loved ones are going to successfully navigate the difficult path of caregiving.
Here are some additional tips and suggestions:
- Believe in Yourself:
- Self-identify as a family caregiver
- Learn to say no
- Command respect from healthcare providers and family members
- Protect Your Health by Speaking Up for Your Right to:
- Recognition that caregiving is not a one-person job.
- Care coordination for your loved one’s health records across all settings.
- Financial assistance so you can purchase some of the services you need to ease the burden of caregiving
- Community-based support designed to help caregiving families.
- Regular time-off from your responsibilities.
- Speak up for Your Rights and the Rights of ALL Family Caregivers
- Insist on education and training in skills you will need as a caregiver.
- Speak up for affordable homecare assistance.
- Speak up for financial support to protect you in later years.