- - Friday, November 6, 2015

I have been on a bit of a hiatus the past few weeks. It was not planned but it was one of those times as a military caregiver when I needed to focus on just the necessities. My husband, Charlie, an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, entered the hospital for epilepsy observation which led to an adjustment in the care plan. When having to deal with additional caregiving stress, such as hospitalization, reaching out to my network of caregiving support is vital to my success as a caregiver.

The RAND “Hidden Heroes Report” found that only 47 percent of post-9/11 military caregivers have some form of a caregiving network compared with 71 percent of pre-9/11 military caregivers. It is believed that the lack of such a network has led to more post-9/11 military caregivers using an increased amount of mental health resources.

From my own observations, I have noticed those who have been caregiving longer tend to have a better, well-established support network when compared with those who are newer to being a military caregiver. Nonetheless, military caregivers of all generations and eras need to work toward establishing a caregiving network for their own community support.

For myself, I relied heavily on family and friends for community support. Family stepped up to provide childcare help, cook dinners and clean the house. When I was in the beginning stages of caregiving, I often times failed to ask for help, which lead additional stress.

Now, I have a plan in place that is able to be enacted during any caregiving emergency. This plan includes childcare, food, cleaning and bill paying. I created this plan after looking back at a rough caregiving period and identifying four main areas in which I personally needed help. I then reached out to others within my community, asking if they could be there if I needed them. For bills, I have set up as many accounts as possible to be auto-pay/drafted. Talking with a financial adviser helped me establish a budget and learn additional financial tips on how to survive financially during any type of caregiving crisis, including a sudden loss of income. It is important to create even the most rudimentary of plans for caregiving during an emergency.

Finally, during the hospitalization, I discovered a great hospital discharge planning guide published by the Family Caregiver Alliance. The Family Caregiver Alliance is a non-profit that was founded in the late 1970s and has been working to “address the needs of families and friends providing long-term care for loved ones at home.” I highly recommend anyone who is a caregiver (military or non-military) to visit the alliance’s website and take advantage of the resources offered.

I look forward to writing again, and have been working on blogs covering children of service members, domestic violence and other topics surrounding the military caregiving community.

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