According to a recent study "Caregiving in the U.S." by the National Alliance for Caregiving and United Health Foundation, "11 percent of all caregivers of adults have served in the armed forces and 17 percent of their care recipients are veterans."
The demographics of veteran caregivers are very different than the average U.S. caregivers.
For example, 96 percent of veteran caregivers are female versus the national average caregivers who are 65 percent women. Also, 70 percent of veteran caregivers provide care to their spouse or partner versus only six percent of national average caregivers.
In regards to living with a caregiving recipient, more than 80 percent of veteran caregivers reside with their veteran caregiving recipient versus only 23 percent of national caregivers.
Another key issue is that veteran care recipients are much younger. More than 41 percent of the veteran caregiving recipients are between the ages of 18-54.
The survey also showed veteran caregivers are in their roles significantly longer than the average caregiver.
The following are the main illnesses suffered by veteran caregiving recipients:
• 70 percent suffer from mental illness
• 60 percent suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
• 29 percent suffer from a traumatic brain injury (TBI)
• 28 percent has diabetes
• 24 percent has injuries to bones, joints or limbs
Because the demographics of veteran caregiving are so different than the national average, the care and challenges of a veteran caregiving are vastly different.
However, veteran organizations offer some impressive services to our country’s finest and bravest veterans.
For example, VA Caregiver Support - http://www.caregiver.va.gov/ offers a plethora of caregiver support resources including a caregiver support line. Contact 855-260-3274 if you just need to talk or if you have a specific question regarding veteran caregiving. The hours of the VA Caregiver Support Line are Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. ET and Saturday 10:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. ET.
The site also offers a caregiver toolbox which offers tips, checklists, diagnosis care sheets, etc. Also, it offers a section for those of you who may be new to veteran caregiving. Those tips sheets include:
• Rewards of family caregiving http://www.caregiver.va.gov/pdfs/Rewards_of_Family_Caregiving.pdf
• 50 Things every caregiver should know http://www.caregiver.va.gov/pdfs/50_Things_Every_Caregiver_Should_Know.pdf
• Caring for yourself http://www.caregiver.va.gov/pdfs/Caring_for_Yourself.pdf
• Checklist for the new family caregiver http://www.caregiver.va.gov/pdfs/Checklist_for_New_Family_Caregivers.pdf
• Five tips to avoid caregiver burnout http://www.caregiver.va.gov/pdfs/Tips_for_Avoiding_Caregiver_Burnout.pdf
• Balancing family caregiving, family and work http://www.caregiver.va.gov/pdfs/Balancing_Family_Caregiving_Family_and_Work.pdf
Another website which offers veteran support resources is the Well Spouse Association. Visit this site for additional military caregiving support.
Reviewed June 20, 2011
Edited by Alison Stanton