Permission to Say No

By Suzanne Mintz, National Family Caregivers Association

Another way to love, honor, and value yourself is to recognize that even though you are a family caregiver, you don't always have to say yes to requests or demands. On the contrary, it is important to acknowledge that you don't have to discard the word no from your vocabulary to continue to be a loving and thoughtful caregiver who provides high quality care to their loved one. "Yes, I can and will do this, but I'm sorry, I just can't do that" are perfectly legitimate statements to make. This may sound like heresy. How can I possibly say no, you may be thinking. How can I not continue to give and give when she needs me, when the doctor says these are the tasks that must be done? The reason is because saying "no" now could in the long run provide you with the ability to say, "yes, I can" for a long time to come. It can help you find the balance you need between self-care and caregiving. Family caregivers don't have formal rights enacted by law (at least not yet, but we are working on it) or even established by custom, but we all have the right, indeed the natural instinct, to self-preservation.

When doctors or other health professionals assume that you can do specific tasks or therapies or be at the hospital at a specific time to take your loved one home, they generally have no idea what your other obligations are, and unless you set them straight they will go on assuming that you can and are willing to do whatever they ask, when they ask it.

A Family Caregiver Speaks Up

The above is an excerpt from Suzanne Mintz' latest book: A Family Caregiver Speaks Up: "It Doesn't Have to Be This Hard." She is a nationally recognized advocate and the award-winning President of the National Family Caregivers Association. Mintz has cared for her husband, Steven who has MS for over thirty years. Her book tells of her own inspiring story and expert advice for America's millions of caregivers to speak up for themselves, the loved ones in their care, and all family caregivers. Note the quote marks around the subtitle are integral to it.

Click here to learn more and purchase the book


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