Caring for a veteran may bring with it unique challenges. Being a caregiver, in general, brings challenges including:
- Your family member is demanding
- The work is exhausting
- You might be caring for your own family or holding down a job
- Your family member may not welcome your help
- Ultimately, it is rewarding!
Being a caregiver means you need to be patient with your family member and you need to be forgiving of yourself if you feel your patience wearing thin. Remember, it’s a big change for the entire family. The veteran family member that you’re caring for is accustomed to being in charge – he or she served and protected our country, after all! It is difficult for them to realize they need to ask for help after having been the family provider and protector for decades.
If you find yourself in the role of caregiver to a veteran, reach out to a local Veteran’s Administration Caregiver Support Coordinator and speak with him or her. They can provide you with valuable information and put you in touch with resources, services and support available to you and your loved one.
Here are tools to help you in your role as caregiver:
- Work with your loved one’s doctor and pharmacist and compile a medication log. Write down the name of the medication, the times per day it needs to be taken and what ailment it addresses. It may make sense to make note of any potential side effects in the event you need to look out for them. Set up a schedule, in writing, of the times of day the medications need to be taken as well as whether it needs to be taken with food or on an empty stomach.
- Go to the doctor with your family member and start a dialogue with him or her. If you have a basic understanding of what ailments are facing your loved one, you can help care for him or her in a more thoughtful manner. Ask the doctor what forms you need to sign to be allowed access to medical records or make calls on your loved one’s behalf. You may need to contact an attorney, but asking the doctor is a good first step.
- Research local veteran’s outreach organizations. There could be services that provide free transportation to and from doctor’s visits. Transportation services could also assist with day trips or grocery store excursions.
Respect that the veteran in your life will likely be hesitant to accept help. When you’re offering assistance, bring up the idea of their living in place being made easier if they invest in a home medical alert device; this will bring peace of mind to the entire family.
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