For even the most organized people, unexpected health concerns can turn their life upside down. For those who find themselves in the role of the family caregiver caring for our nation’s Veterans, support is available from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Debra knows. Her son, a young Marine, was severely injured in a motorcycle accident. With a spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury, he would need 24/7 health care. After getting the news, Debra took a deep breath, grieved the loss of who her son had been, then accepted and loved who he had become.
With support from the Marine Corps, she moved into a house that worked better for both of them, and she learned more about TBI and SCI.
Debra appreciated finding out that she was eligible for comprehensive family caregiver services and training from VA and often praises the Building Better Caregivers™ which is available to caregivers. The workshop is a free online, interactive six-week program designed to help caregivers more effectively solve problems, and manage their emotions, stress and physical health. More than 2,800 caregivers have been referred to the workshop which is provided through a partnership with the National Council on Aging.
Caregivers can sign up for the Building Better Caregivers™ workshop by contacting their local Caregiver Support Coordinator, by visiting www.caregiver.va.gov and using the zip code look-up feature.
“The BBC is great,” Debra said.
In fact, Debra went a step further and became a VA Peer Support Mentor in a program that matches more experienced caregivers with less experienced caregivers. They share their experiences, wisdom and skills.
In addition, Debra counts on the continued support of other caregivers through an online alumni community launched August 2013, with 665 participants currently.
She also includes respite care in her schedule after realizing the value of taking some time for herself. VA provides enhanced respite support for Veterans and their primary caregivers enrolled in the new program, as part of the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers. VA respite options include in-home respite, when someone comes into the home to provide caregiving for the Veteran while the caregiver is away. There are also adult day care programs, in which Veteran can socialize by participating in a full day of programs; and out-of-home respite, which is offered at VA Medical Centers, VA Community Living Centers, or in assisted-living communities and community nursing homes.
Visit www.caregiver.va.gov to learn more about the support and services available to the Caregivers of Veterans.
Editor’s note: Although PL 111-163 only allowed VA to provide certain services to family caregivers of post 9/11 Veterans, VA has several programs and services for caregivers of all era Veterans, including Building Better Caregivers and the Caregiver Peer Support Mentoring Program, both mentioned in the article. Please contact your Caregiver Support Coordinator to find out more information.