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I have met children of veterans— young adults—who have put their lives on hold to care for or provide additional support to a parent who is no longer able to function independently after a combat injury. When the veteran, who had been diagnosed with a severe TBI, moved back to his hometown, family support was no longer available. As a result, these two women partnered up to provide this veteran with support and care. They take turns managing his VA appointments, medications, and financial needs and assisting him with activities of daily living.
I have also worked with caregivers of veterans who are veterans themselves. Rand Corporation.
Caregiving of Veterans—Serving the Homefront:. Family caregivers provide assistance with routine, daily activities, such as bathing and meal preparation, as well as more specialized tasks, such as meeting with health care providers and administering medications. The amount of weekly care provided averages 21 hours per week for persons with physical impairment, and 22 to 47 hours per week for persons with cognitive impairment.
That means a growing need for caregivers.
Veterans’ Families: Caring For Those Who Care - Veterans Ombudsman
And due to advancements in health care, more individuals are aging with disabilities, resulting in a prolonged need for caregivers. Family caregivers represent a very diverse segment of the U.
Related Power to the Patients. In addition, almost half of all veterans have cognitive impairment, and nearly one-third experiencing traumatic brain injuries TBI. Caregivers of veterans also face the additional challenge of navigating large and complex systems across multiple government organizations. There are a myriad of services and benefits available to veterans, and their caregivers typically serve as care coordinators—facilitating care, services, and benefits for their loved ones. Caregivers of veterans may also handle all financial and legal matters, such as drafting wills and advance directives.
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It is, therefore, not surprising that caregivers of veterans experience higher levels of physical strain as well as poorer mental and emotional health. Six out of 10 caregivers of veterans report their health has declined due to their caregiving role, and the majority find themselves socially isolated and depressed Figure 1.
Military and Veteran Caregivers
The VA has long supported family caregivers of veterans through services such as home health care and programming, such as home-based primary care, teaching, and support. Following the passage of Public Law , the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Act of , the VA has been able to increase its support to family caregivers to an unprecedented level. The programs and services established under this act include a national CSP and caregiver support line, as well as placement of caregiver support coordinators at each VA medical center.
Other additional supports for caregivers of veterans injured in the line of duty on or after September 11, , include monthly stipends, mental health services, insurance coverage, and enhanced respite care.
These caregiver programs and services utilize a variety of models to assist in the engagement of the diverse caregiver population across the military service eras. The online pilot addressed the needs of those looking after their family members or friends with cognitive difficulties, such as dementia, TBI, PTSD, memory problems, and other care needs. The online format provided an additional option for caregivers to access support in a nontraditional format outside of their local VAMC.
This format also allowed caregivers the flexibility to access support and information in the convenience of their home, based on their availability and schedule. This feature was especially important due to the challenges some caregivers experience, whether it is their rural residence, limited ability to travel to a medical center, or lack of support to leave their loved one to attend a support group.
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