The Declaration of Human Rights as outlined by the United Nations highlights a number of principles that should be followed in life and in the caregiver role. These principles include respecting the beliefs, dignity and freedom of choice of others. The Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People outlines human rights that are particularly relevant to older adults. They are as follows:
Our rights do not change as we grow older. What does change is that older women and men are considered to be inherently less valuable to society. At the same time, as people get older, they face increasing barriers to their participation, become more dependent on others and lose some or all of their personal autonomy. These threats to their dignity can make them more susceptible to neglect, abuse and violation of their rights.
Older people face very specific threats to their rights in relation to age discrimination, for example, in access to health care, in employment, in property and inheritance rights, in access to information and education and in humanitarian responses. Older people also face particular forms of violence and abuse. They face particular threats to their rights in care settings and as carers themselves.
The Global Alliance for the Rights of Older PeopleCommon Terms and Definitions
Age discrimination: Age discrimination occurs when a person is treated differently, with an unreasonable or disproportionate impact, because of their age. For example, upper age limits on credit cards or programs that prohibit older adults access to financing is considered age discrimination.
Ageism: Ageism is stereotyping of and prejudice against older people that can lead to age discrimination. We see ageism when people are patronised on TV and in advertising or talked down to in care settings.
Multiple discrimination: Older men and women often face discrimination that is based on two or more factors, such as age, gender, ethnic origin, economic status, disease status and literacy level. Older women are typically more vulnerable to this type of discrimination than older men.The Care Receiver As A Whole Person
Sometimes, without noticing it, the caregiver may begin to view the care recipient through the lens of his or her illness rather than as a whole person. The traditional relationship with the medical system, which places emphasis on treating conditions and diseases, reinforces this.
In your role, it is necessary to take a more holistic approach. Remind yourself that medical terms and procedures do not define the person in your care. Rather, the person in your care should be seen as a whole person—with an identity and a rich background of life experiences. Here are three ways you can encourage a holistic relationship:
Depending on your cultural background, giving and receiving care can be practised in a variety of ways. For example, factors such as whether the care recipient speaks the language of his or her origin, how long the care receiver has lived in Canada, his or her value system and cultural perceptions of health can all influence caregiving.
It’s crucial to be sensitive to and respect your care recipient’s culture and values. When caring for another person, try not to assign values such as better, worse, right or wrong to their beliefs. The person’s beliefs may be different than yours, but they belong to the individual (and are very important to him or her).
You may find that the person you care for has a different set of values than you do. These may include: