Caregiver Bill of Rights

Caregiver Bill of Rights: Empowering Those Who Care

Caregiving is an act of kindness, love, and patience. It’s a role that millions step into, often without preparation or choice, to support a family member or friend in need. But it’s also a role with immense challenges and responsibilities that can affect the caregiver’s well-being. That’s where the Caregiver Bill of Rights comes in—a guiding light for those who give so much of themselves to care for others.

The concept of a Caregiver Bill of Rights, a significant milestone in the history of caregiving, was first introduced in 1985 by Jo Horne in her book “Caregiving: Helping an Aging Loved One.” This groundbreaking document breaks down caregiving into practical aspects, including the crucial relationships between caregivers and recipients.   This document is provided by the National Aphasia Association (NAA) and is found here:  Caregiver Bill of Rights.

One of the key aspects of the Caregiver Bill of Rights is its acknowledgment of the caregiver’s emotional landscape. It confirms feelings of frustration, sadness, and fatigue that may arise and encourages caregivers to express these emotions without guilt. It also recognizes the need for caregivers to receive appreciation, affection, and acceptance for their tireless efforts.

The Caregiver’s Bill of Rights outlines essential rights for individuals caring for others. Here are some key points from the Caregiver’s Bill of Rights:

  • Taking Care of Myself: I have the right to care for myself. This is not an act of selfishness. By prioritizing my own well-being, I can better care for my relative or loved one.
  • Seeking Help: I have the right to seek help from others, even if my loved one objects. It is crucial for me to recognize my own limits in terms of endurance and strength.
  • Maintaining My Own Life: I have the right to keep facets of my life that do not solely revolve around the person I care for. I deserve moments for myself just as I would if they were healthy.
  • Expressing Difficult Feelings: I have the right to get angry, be depressed, and express other difficult feelings occasionally. Caregiving can be emotionally challenging, and acknowledging these emotions is essential.
  • Rejecting Manipulation: I have the right to reject any attempt by my relative (conscious or unconscious) to manipulate me through guilt, anger, or depression.
  • Reciprocity in Relationships: I deserve consideration, affection, forgiveness, and acceptance for what I do for my loved one. These qualities should be reciprocated.
  • Taking Pride in Accomplishments: I have the right to take pride in my accomplishments as a caregiver. Recognizing the courage and stamina it takes to meet my loved one’s needs is essential.
  • Protecting My Individuality: I have the right to protect my individuality and support a life for myself that sustains me, even when my loved one no longer needs full-time help.
  • Advocating for Resources: I expect and demand that strides be made in finding resources to aid and support caregivers.


For anyone stepping into the caregiving role, embracing this bill of rights is not just a suggestion, but a necessity for a more balanced and sustainable caregiving journey. It’s a reminder that while they may be caring for someone else, they also need—and have the right—to care for themselves. It is not selfish to take a break or ask for support. In fact, it’s crucial for their own well-being and the quality of care they provide.

To all caregivers, it’s important to know that your work is seen and deeply appreciated. Your challenges are not only recognized but understood. Your rights are not only important but vital. You are not alone. You have a community that supports you and admires the invaluable work you do.


Sources:  Family Caregiver Alliance, Caring Village, National Council on Aging, National Aphasia Association