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Supporting Caregivers As They Support
Our Veterans

By Kristine Dwyer, Staff Writer

(Page 3 of 6)

The health and emotional well-being of the veteranís caregiver also needs to be a priority. If not addressed, caregiver fatigue, illness and impatience can directly reflect on and impact the quality of care that one is able to give. An important analogy can be found in our airline industry. Just as the flight attendant instructs passengers to use the oxygen mask on themselves first and then assist the person next to them, so must the caregiver follow the same important instructions.
Caregivers who learn what help is available to veterans and how to access that help will feel more in control of a complex situation. Some ideas are:
Become educated about the veteranís medical condition, whether physical or emotional. 
Learn to communicate with members of the health care profession. Write down questions prior to appointments and, if needed, have an additional person attend appointments to gather important information. 
Keep good medical records and summaries of office visits. Bring identification and health insurance cards, plus names and doses of the veteranís medications to the appointments.

Learn the routines and points of access with the medical facilities used by the veteran. This includes office hours and how to reach health care providers, schedule appointments and transportation.
Inquire about assistive technology devices and utilize home care and skilled-care services. 
Find out about benefits that are available through the military and Department of Veterans Affairs.

Additional Caregiver Keys Include:

  • Asking for help (it is a sign of strength)

  • Taking breaks to restore energy

  • Making oneís own health needs and medical appointments a priority

  • Learning proper caregiving techniques such as lifting, transferring, or wound care from medical professionals at the VA or other medical facilities

  • Connecting or reconnecting with a faith-based community for support

  • Establishing a circle of support around the family that includes professionals, relatives and (military) friends who are able to share the care and reduce stress


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