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There are resources available for caregivers of Montana veterans

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Posted at 5:21 PM, Jun 27, 2024

HELENA — Many aging veterans require a certain amount of care. That care can often fall upon the family and friends of veterans. A caregiver team at the VA is working to get the word out about their resources aimed at helping veteran caretakers.

“A lot of research has shown that the more help a caregiver gets, the longer we can have veterans, who have high medical needs, remain in their home, remain independent, remain mobile. And just having a resource outlet and ongoing support for our caregivers will help ensure that,” says Program of General Caregiver Support Coordinator, Joel Simpson.

On Thursday, the Montana VA hosted the annual Caregiver Summit. This summit worked to provide information and helpful resources to those who help care for caregivers of veterans such as VA staff and community providers.

Nearly 90,000 veterans live in Montana. As those veterans age, they may need help with all types of day-to-day tasks.

And the front line for help often comes from friends and family, primarily from spouses.

“They really provide a full range of care from activities of daily living assistance, bathing, grooming, getting dressed, transferring mobility, all the way to medication management, transportation, cooking meals, chores, and also social and mental health support,” says Simpson.

Currently, only about 375 caregivers are enrolled in the two programs under national caregiver support: the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers and the Program of General Caregiver Support Services. Christina Parker is the Caregiver Support Program Manager. She also served as a caregiver for her father, giving her a firsthand understanding of the challenges faced by veterans and their families.

“I think if we don’t take care of the caregivers and support them then they’re not going to be able to take care of the veterans. A lot of the folks in our program, they’re both elderly. And so, we try to really support that caregiver and give her what she needs so that she can provide the care for the veteran,” says Parker.

In September the VA will host a caregiver resource fair. If you or someone you know is a veteran caregiver and is looking for resources, you can reach out to their email at VAMONTANACAREGIVERS@VA.GOV