Since AARP’s founding president, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, took a personal tour of the Mount Alto Veterans Hospital in Washington, D.C., in 1959, we have recognized the special challenges faced by military and veteran caregivers. Today, we are a proud member of the National Coalition for Military Caregivers, a broad coalition of leading public, private, nonprofit, labor and faith organizations being assembled by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation to address the gaps in support for military and veteran caregivers. In addition to AARP’s growing support efforts on behalf of family caregivers, we offer here a summary of Department of Veterans Affairs caregiver services.
VA’s Caregiver Support Line
VA’s toll-free Caregiver Support Line is 855-260-3274. Whether you’re in need of immediate assistance or have questions about what services you may be eligible for, the licensed professionals who answer the support line can:
- Tell you about the assistance available from VA
- Help you access services
- Connect you with the caregiver support coordinator at a VA medical center near you
- Just listen, if that’s what you need right now
Caregiver Support Coordinator
Your local caregiver support coordinator is a licensed professional who can support you by matching you with services for which you are eligible, and providing you with valuable information about resources that can help you stay smart, strong and organized as you care for the veteran you love. Find your caregiver support coordinator by visiting the Help Near Home page and entering your zip code.
Peer Support for Caregivers
VA has developed a Caregiver Peer Support Mentoring Program to connect caregivers to one another, to provide support and to learn from each other. Peer Support Mentoring provides an opportunity for caregivers to share their experience, wisdom, skills and passion with each other and benefit from the guidance of others. Mentors and mentees communicate using email, telephone and letter writing, depending on what works best for both of them. To learn more, please contact your caregiver support coordinator, who can be located by using the zip code lookup at the VA caregiver website, www.caregiver.va.gov.
Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) Centers
ADHC centers are a safe and active environment with constant supervision designed for veterans to get out of the home and participate in activities. They provide a chance for the veteran you care for to socialize with other veterans while you, the family caregiver, get some time for yourself. ADHC centers employ caring professionals who will assess a veteran’s rehabilitation needs and help the veteran accomplish various tasks so he or she can maintain or regain personal independence and dignity.
Home Based Primary Care and the Skilled Home Health Care Services
Home Based Primary Care (HBPC) and the Skilled Home Health Care Services are programs that provide a medical professional who comes to your home to help care for a homebound veteran. Some of the care a veteran can receive includes basic nursing services and physical, occupational and speech therapies. To be eligible for these services, a veteran must be homebound, which means he or she has difficulty traveling to and from appointments and so is in need of receiving medical services at home.
Homemaker and Home Health Aide Program
Feeding and bathing another person can be very stressful, physically tasking and time-consuming for you. Often, taking care of a veteran’s needs leaves no time for you to take care of your own needs. The Homemaker and Home Health Aide Program is designed to help a veteran with personal care needs.
The Home Telehealth program is designed to give you ready access to a care coordinator by using technology (e.g., telephone, computers) in your home. The Home Telehealth program enhances and extends care management to you, the family caregiver. The program is typically offered to individuals who live at a distance from a VA medical center.
If a veteran requires a caregiver, the caregiver is eligible to receive up to 30 days of respite care per year. The care can be offered in a variety of settings, including at your home or through temporary placement of a veteran at a VA community living center, a VA-contracted community residential care facility or an adult day health care center. Respite care may also be provided in response to a family caregiver’s unexpected hospitalization, a need to go out of town or a family emergency.
Home Hospice Care
During the advanced stages of a terminal disease, home hospice care can offer comfort and supportive services for you and the veteran you care for in your own home. An interdisciplinary team of health care providers and volunteers from a community hospice agency provides the services. The team is there for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.