Caregivers Of Veterans
Care giving for a veteran, especially with PTSD or TBI, places a strain on the entire family. PTSD can be viewed as a chronic illness, and the person with PTSD may require constant care from a loved one, such as a wife or husband. Partners of people with PTSD may be faced with a number of stressors that go along with caring for and living with someone with a chronic disorder. These stressors include financial strain, managing the person's symptoms, dealing with crises, loss of friends, or loss of intimacy.
Due to a loved one's illness, caregivers may be the only people who can take care of such stressors. This puts a large burden on them, and as a result, they may experience tremendous strain and stress, or caregiver burden. As well the person living with or dealing with someone with PTSD or TBI may find themselves suffering not only from caregivers burden but secondary PTSD as well.
Caregivers may feel guilty if they take time for themselves or feel stressed out as a result of caring for someone, especially when a loved one is struggling with a serious diagnosis like PTSD. However, it is important for caregivers to realize that they too need time to "recharge their batteries." Living with and caring for someone with PTSD is stressful in its own right. The more a caregiver can learn how to care for themselves, the better they will be able to care for others. This help site about caring for the elderly and how to care for YOU is a great place to get information!
There are thousands of caregivers, mostly parents, spouses and siblings, who assist vets injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, as they struggle to get through each day. Many caregivers do not receive military benefits, and have had to quit jobs, move out of their homes and deplete their savings in order to care for their family member. And since many caregivers of veterans are women, that puts additional strains on family responsibilities. These family caregivers carry some unique burdens….they have had to endure the excruciating wait for the veteran’s return home after deployment and then eventually being there to help with the healing process of the physical and emotional wounds. These burdens can be lifelong, creating frustrations for caregivers and veterans alike.
The Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act was signed into law in May 2010. It authorized VA to establish a wide range of new services to support certain caregivers of eligible OIF/OEF veterans. This included education and training, healthcare coverage for caregivers, respite care, mental health services and counseling, plus a monthly stipend for caregivers who curtailed their own careers or quit working entirely to care for their friend or family member.The law required VA to create a host of new regulations, most notably ones determining eligibility of veterans, designating and approving caregivers and providing stipends.
The VA has several support and service options designed that you as a caregiver may qualify for. The programs are available both in and out of your home to help you care for the Veteran you love and for yourself. I can not speak as to this program but I would suggest you look over the eligibility rules and if you think you may qualify for this program follow the link to the VA's website and apply!
Who Is Eligible?
- Veterans eligible for this program are those who sustained a serious injury – including traumatic brain injury, psychological trauma or other mental disorder – incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, on or after September 11, 2001.
- Veterans eligible for this program must also be in need of personal care services because of an inability to perform one or more activities of daily living and/or need supervision or protection based on symptoms or residuals of neurological impairment or injury.
- To be eligible for the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, Veterans must first be enrolled for VA health services, if not enrolled previously.
New Services Available to Family Caregivers through this ProgramThe new law will provide additional assistance to primary Family Caregivers of eligible post-9/11 Veterans and Servicemembers. New services for this group include:
- Monthly stipend
- Travel expenses (including lodging and per diem while accompanying Veterans undergoing care)
- Access to health care insurance (if the Caregiver is not already entitled to care or services under a health care plan)
- Mental health services and counseling
- Comprehensive VA Caregiver training provided by Easter Seals
- Respite care (not less than 30 days per year)
Caregiver Support Line
VA's Caregiver Support Line1-855-260-3274 toll-freeMonday through Friday 8:00 am – 11:00 pm ETSaturday 10:30 am – 6:00 pm ET
- Tell you about the assistance available from VA.
- Help you access services.
- Connect you with the Caregiver Support Coordinator at a VA Medical Center near you.
- Just listen, if that's what you need right now.
Below are descriptions of various services available to Family Caregivers of Veterans. If you'd like additional information or are interested in signing up for any of the services listed below, contact VA's Caregiver Support Line or your local Caregiver Support Coordinator for assistance (see above).
Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) Centers
ADHC Centers are a safe and active environment with constant supervision designed for Veterans to get out of the home and participate in activities. It is a time for the Veteran you care for to socialize with other Veterans while you, the Family Caregiver, get some time for yourself. ADHC Centers employ caring professionals who will assess a Veteran's rehabilitation needs and help a Veteran accomplish various tasks so he or she can maintain or regain personal independence and dignity. The Veteran you care for will participate in rehabilitation based on his or her specific health assessment during the day (ADHC centers are generally open Monday through Friday during normal business hours). The ADHC Centers emphasize a partnership with you, the Veteran you care for and Centers' staffs.
Home-Based Primary Care
Home-Based Primary Care (HBPC) is a program designed to deliver routine health care services to your home when the Veteran you care for has medical issues that make it challenging for him or her to travel. Home-Based Primary Care is staffed with medical professionals who will come to your home. Some of their services are primary care and nursing, managing medication, and helping plan and put together nutritious and tasty meals. Home-Based Primary Care can also include physical rehabilitation, mental health care for your Veteran, social work and referrals to VA and community services. This program can help ease the worry and stress of having to bring a Veteran to and from a VA medical center for routine medical appointments.
Skilled Home Care
The Skilled Home Care service provides a medical professional who comes to your home to help care for a homebound Veteran. Some of the care a Veteran can receive includes basic nursing services and physical, occupational, or speech therapies. To be eligible for this service, a Veteran must be homebound, which means he or she has difficulty traveling to and from appointments and so is in need of receiving medical services at home. The Skilled Home Care service is similar to Home-Based Primary Care, but it involves VA purchasing care for a Veteran from a licensed non-VA medical professional.
Homemaker and Home Health Aide Program
Feeding and bathing another person can be very stressful, physically tasking, and time-consuming for you. Often times, taking care of a Veteran's needs leaves no time for you to take care of your own needs. The Homemaker and Home Health Aide Program is designed to help a Veteran with personal care needs. Your local VA medical center can help arrange for a home health aide who will come to your home on a regular schedule to allow you time to take care of your own needs. Caring for yourself helps you stay strong for yourself and the Veteran you care for.
We know how difficult or challenging it can be to get the Veteran you care for to a VA medical center for assistance. The Home Telehealth program is designed to give you ready access to a care coordinator by using technology (e.g., telephone, computers) in your home. The Home Telehealth program enhances and extends care management to you, the Family Caregiver. The program is typically offered to individuals who live at a distance from a VA Medical Center. Home Telehealth services can also include education and training or online and telephone support groups. Please contact your Caregiver Support Coordinator to discuss which telehealth programs are available at your VA.
As a Family Caregiver, it can be hard to find time for a much-needed break from your daily routine and care responsibilities so that you have some time for yourself. Respite is time for relaxing and renewing your own energy, and respite care can provide you with the time to do that. If a Veteran requires a Caregiver, you are eligible to receive up to 30 days of respite care per year. The care can be offered in a variety of settings including at your home or through temporary placement of a Veteran at a VA Community Living Center, a VA-contracted Community Residential Care Facility, or an Adult Day Health Care Center. Respite care may also be provided in response to a Family Caregiver's unexpected hospitalization, a need to go out of town, or a family emergency. Staying strong for your Veteran means staying strong yourself. By taking an opportunity to be refreshed through respite care, you may be amazed at how your fresh outlook will help you and your Veteran.
Home Hospice Care
During the advanced stages of a terminal disease, Home Hospice Care can offer comfort and supportive services for you and the Veteran you care for in your own home. The professionals who provide Home Hospice Care understand the challenges you face and are there to help you and the Veteran you care for ease into the final stages of life. An interdisciplinary team of health care providers and volunteers from a local community hospice agency provide the services during this sad and challenging time. The team is there for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Bereavement care (grief counseling) is also available for you and other immediate family members