Speak Up

A caregiver speaking on phone

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. Our children don’t know we need help caring for their dad. To our boss, we don’t request a more flexible schedule. Ignoring our instincts when speaking to medical professionals, we 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?

  • Confidence is essential, so we should tell ourselves, “I can do this.”
  • Anger—not too much, but enough to say, “I am not going to take this anymore,” or “I cannot do this anymore”—can be motivating.
  • Knowledge empowers us to speak with authority.
  • Believing that speaking up for our rights is crucial ensures we and our loved ones can navigate the difficult path of caregiving successfully.

Here are some additional tips and suggestions:

  1. Believe in Yourself:
    • Self-identify as a family caregiver
    • Learn to say no
    • Command respect from healthcare providers and family members
  2. 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.
  3. 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.