FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN
/ Our Own Manifesto
In honor of Election Day today in these United
States, I would like to talk with you about a most
honored role to which we can often get elected
(sometimes without getting a vote ourselves),
drafted or volunteered: family caregiver. My
long-held contention is that once you become a
family caregiver, you have taken on a job role equal
to any other member of your loved one’s care team.
Your role is as important (or even more so) than the
therapist, nurse, care manager and, yes, even
doctor. But other than years of training and
experience, there is one thing that each of these
professionals has and that is a set of principles by
which to live. Social workers have a Code of
Ethics, nurses have the Florence Nightingale Pledge,
and doctors have the Hippocratic Oath. As these
other members of the team have their codes of ethics
and principles to live by as healthcare
professionals, we family caregivers also need and
deserve our own guiding set of principles, our own
manifesto: The Fearless Caregiver Manifesto.
I’d like to share the ten principles of the
- I will fearlessly assess my personal
strengths and weaknesses, work diligently to
bolster my weaknesses and to graciously
recognize my strengths.
- I will fearlessly make my voice be heard
with regard to my loved one’s care, and be a
strong ally to those professional caregivers
committed to caring for my loved one and a
fearless shield against those not committed to
caring for my loved one.
- I will fearlessly not sign or approve
anything I do not understand, and will
steadfastly request the information I need until
I am satisfied with the explanations.
- I will fearlessly ensure that all of the
necessary documents are in place in order for my
wishes and my loved one’s wishes to be met in
case of a medical emergency. These will include
Durable Medical Powers of Attorney, Wills,
Trusts and Living Wills.
- I will fearlessly learn all I can about my
loved one’s healthcare needs and become an
integral member of his or her medical care team.
- I will fearlessly seek out other caregivers
or care organizations and join an appropriate
support group; I realize that there is strength
in numbers and will not isolate myself from
those who are also caring for their loved ones.
- I will fearlessly care for my physical and
emotional health as well as I care for my loved
one’s, I will recognize the signs of my own
exhaustion and depression, and I will allow
myself to take respite breaks and to care for
myself on a regular basis.
- I will fearlessly develop a personal support
system of friends and family, and remember that
others also love my loved one and are willing to
help if I let them know what they can do to
support my caregiving.
- I will fearlessly honor my loved one’s
wishes, as I know them to be, unless these
wishes endanger their health or mine.
- I will fearlessly acknowledge when providing
appropriate care for my loved one becomes
impossible, either because of his or her
condition or my own, and seek other solutions
for my loved one’s caregiving needs.
But wait! There’s more. This week also marks the
beginning of National Family Caregivers Month, the
101st Fearless Caregiver Conference (in New Haven,
Connecticut), and the 15th anniversary of