CAREGIVERS OF VETERANS

In a national study of those who provided caregiver services to veterans, the following statistics were gathered. This information is from a study published in 2010.

Caregivers were asked what health condition the veteran to whom they provide care had. The response:

  • Mental illness was reported by 70%.3
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (60%)
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI) (29%)
  • Diabetes (28%)
  • Injuries to bones, joints, or limbs (24%)

The presence of diabetes or cancer is increasingly reported by caregivers of older veterans and those serving in Vietnam or earlier. [Depression/anxiety, PTSD, and spinal cord injuries are more common among younger veterans, particularly those who served in Vietnam or later).

Most caregivers say the veteran they care for is their spouse or partner (70%)

Only 16%, say they are caring for a parent or parent‑in‑law

About one in ten indicate that they are caring for their son or daughter (9%) (These relationships differ from caregivers in general; nationally, only 6% of caregivers are providing care to a spouse or partner).  Of note, not all family caregivers of veterans are actual family members; they may be friends, neighbors, or other non‑relatives.

Only 29% of caregivers of veterans feel they had a choice in taking on the responsibility of caring for their loved one. By comparison, nationally 57% of caregivers do.

Caregivers of veterans who feel, for whatever reason, they did not have a choice in becoming a caregiver are more likely to report impacts on their lives in terms of emotional stress, isolation, physical strain, financial hardship, children’s emotional problems, and work impacts. They are also far less likely to say the experience is fulfilling for them or that the knowledge and skills they are gaining give them a sense of reward. These effects are evident even though their burden of care appears to be equivalent to those who feel they did have a choice.

Most caregivers of veterans (69%) report typically spending at least 21 hours per week helping the veteran.  This includes 43% who spend more than 40 hours per week—three times the share of caregivers nationally who do (12%). 

Caregivers whose veteran has paralysis or diabetes are nearly twice as likely as their counterparts to spend more than 80 hours per week providing care.

Those providing care to a spouse/partner are in the most time‑intensive situations—half (50%) spend more than 40 hours per week, compared to 32% of those providing care to their child and 24% of those who have some other relationship to the veteran.

The long-term nature of the care being provided creates a situation where caregivers are at great risk of burnout.  The importance of providing support for the caregivers of veterans is evident.

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