Miami VA Healthcare System
Caregivers Help Vets Maintain Quality Of Life
November is National Family Caregiver Month (NFC). Family caregivers are family, friends, partners, companions, and neighbors who commit their time, energy, and resources to provide care and support to loved ones who can no longer care for themselves. In the Presidential NFC Month 2010 Proclamation, President Obama recognizes our nation’s family caregivers. “During National Family Caregivers Month, we honor the millions of Americans who give endlessly of themselves to provide for the health and well-being of a beloved family member. Through their countless hours of service to their families and communities, they are a shining example of our Nation’s great capacity to care for each other.” During NFC Month 2010, the VA honors all caregivers for their selfless work at providing care to our Veterans.
Former First Lady Rosalyn Carter once said, “There are only four kinds of people in the world – those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers”. Nationwide, more than 54 million people provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year. The VA estimates that over 68,000 caregivers provide care for the 5 million Veterans served by VHA. Caregivers provide a valuable service to Veterans by assisting them with accessing the healthcare system, providing emotional and physical support, and allowing Veterans to choose to stay in their home over institutional care.
The VA recognizes that caregivers are a valuable resource to our Veterans. Caregivers help Veterans maintain their quality of life and independence in the community. Yet caregiving is often challenging. Caregivers most frequently reported their unmet needs to be finding time for themselves, managing emotional and physical stress, and balancing work and other activities. The MVAHS offers several services that offer support and encouragement to our Veterans' caregivers. Programs such as Home Based Primary Care, Spinal Cord Home Care, Homemaker/Home Health Aide, Telephone Linked Care for Dementia, Respite and the Fisher House all offer assistance to caregivers. Caregivers can also attend a VA caregiver support group or receive information on and referrals to community resources from Social Work Service/Chaplain Section.
While providing care to Veterans, we should remember to recognize the caregivers who care for Veterans. President Obama “encourage[s] all Americans to pay tribute to those who provide care for their family members, friends, and neighbors in need." NFC Month provides an opportunity to say thank you to the caregivers of our Veterans and to those people in our lives who give of themselves daily to care for others.
Carolyn Soucy, LCSW is the point of contact for the VHA Caregiver Support Program (VHA CSP). The VHA CSP works to find new ways to address caregiver issues and meet the needs of our Veterans' caregivers. To find out more about how the VA supports caregivers and to locate caregiver resources visit www.caregiver.va.gov.