According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), family members and friends who care for veterans spend, on average, more than 20 hours a week taking care of their loved one.
This may take a heavy toll on caregivers, but there is help and assistance for those in need of support.
Called VA Caregiver Support, this federal program ensures that veterans stay home longer by supporting their caregivers.
“Caregivers are the most important part of veterans care,” Caregiver Support Coordinator Ryan Mooney of the Stratton VA Medical Center in Albany, NY said.
Mooney said the cost of long-term care for veterans is immeasurable, running into the hundreds of thousands each year, but caregiving cuts down the expense of that care.
“Without caregivers, the veteran will be in hospitals and long-term care facilities. Living at home is better both for mental and physical wellbeing,” he said.
Support comes in many ways including providing home health aides, therapeutic workshops, and individual and group counseling at the VA medical center and at home.
Veterans who served in the military post-9/11/01 are also qualified for a stipend.
In order to qualify for the VA Caregiver Support program, the veteran must require assistance in two activities of daily living, like washing or cooking for themselves.
The VA’s Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) program at the hospital is another intervention available to the caregiver and the veteran providing respite to caregivers three days a week.
The caregiver can then arrange to take care of personal matters during this time.
“They (caregivers) know they can go to their appointments while their loved ones are at ADHC,” Mooney said. “We can also give up to 30 days of respite care who need institutional care.”
Caregivers are also able to call the Caregiver Support line at 1-855-260-3274.
“Veterans by their nature are independent, but when it comes to healthcare this can be a detriment,” Mooney said.
“We rely on their caregivers to provide us with accurate information to help assess their individual medical needs,” he said.
Support for caregivers is needed more and more as the population ages, Mooney said.
“Caregivers can show signs of dementia if they are taking care of veterans with dementia like Alzheimer’s disease. They are doing multiple things as well as taking care of their loved one,” he said.
“It’s important to stay home for the holidays or sharing the games on TV with each other. One veteran is especially grateful that he can spend time at home watching his favorite team, the New York Yankees, on TV with his wife,” Mooney said. “It definitely has had a positive impact on his welfare.”
When people age, they need more people to care for them, according to Mooney, and as medical interventions increase the longevity of people, caregiving will become more important.
Mooney can be reached by phone at 518-626-6020.
Visit www.caregiver.va.gov for more information on VA Caregiver Support.
My husband was told a year ago that he qualified for financial aide for home health. So far we’ve received nothing. I call every month only to be told he’s on the list. It’s disgusting.
Linda, there is also respite care available. My friends use it for their dad, so they can get away for a couple days. They do have to sign up in advance. Please look into that and give yourself a bit of a break. It is important you take care of YOU as well. My friend is a VA advocate. May I give her your name and location.
Yes, and my dad and I wouldn’t have made it without it. I highly recommend you get in contact with them to find out what level of care your loved one qualifies for. All we had to do was prove dad had over 90 days of service during war time (his was during WWII) and the ball started rolling from there.
One of the comments was caregiver services not for pre 9/11 vets!
Not sure where you saw that, (I’ve reread the article twice) but it’s not true. My dad served in WWII, and received Veterans Aid And Attendance for about four years.
Carole Harper caregiver services was mentioned in the comments, not the article
Aid and attendance benefits are different from post 9/11 Caregiver benefits. I know, my husband was Desert Storm and I could not get CG benefits, but aid and attendance helped open up palliative support in our home. Aid and attendance is different than CG benefits.
And the article does state post 9/11 are eligible for a stipend- this is to caregivers, which is different than the aid and attendance benefit which is given to Vets not their caregivers, but can be used to pay family members or private caregivers.
Caregiver program isnt available to pre 9/11 veterans like my husband so we just limp along
My dad is a veteran and we use veteran medical services a lot. They have been wonderful to deal with and asked me last week if I was getting reimbursed for travel as I take him to all his appointments. I said, never thought about it. They recommended I talk to the service reps on a different floor. I have to admit I did not go, but at some point I just might. I have found good information and numbers on the VA website and call when I have questions.
I went to the caregiver office at a local VA gave them the info they needed and I’m still waiting, maybe 2 years.
I would like to know more