AARP co-hosts webinar on caregiving for veterans
Wednesday, November 15, 2023
AARP is partnering with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation for a webinar today on the financial impacts of caregiving for veterans.
New data show family caregivers of veterans spent $11,500 of their own money on caregiving expenses. It's a large increase from 2021, when the figure was around $7,200 a year.
Jessika Eglin, associate state director of advocacy and outreach for AARP Virginia, described how deeply financial challenges can affect caregivers.
"Sometimes, these financial needs lead to financial setbacks," Eglin observed. "About 43% of veteran and military caregivers have said that they experienced at least one financial setback in their care journey that has led them to taking on more debt, or dipping into their own personal savings account."
She noted the federal government could provide tax credits or incentives to help offset some of the expenses caregivers face. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers a family caregiver program, with a monthly stipend to help with common costs, like home modifications.
In doing caregiving work, Eglin said caregivers of veterans might fall into what's known as "sandwich generation" caregiving, taking care not only of their adult spouse or family member but young children as well. She noted caregiving needs can be intense, and can sometimes take a toll on the caregiver.
"Veteran and military family caregivers in particular will feel unheard, they'll feel unseen," Eglin explained. "They'll feel like there is no one out there that is in that situation that they're in as well."
Eglin emphasized caregivers of veterans should make self-care a priority by setting boundaries for themselves, paying attention to behavioral changes and knowing they are not alone.
A study from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio found a quarter of military caregivers had thoughts of suicide. If you or a loved one are experiencing a mental health crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988, or the Crisis Text Line, by texting the word "HELLO" to 741741.
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