November 29, 2017

VA Caregiver Support

November is National Family Caregivers Month. Family caregivers, or “informal” caregivers, are unpaid individuals (i.e., spouse, partner, or family member) who assist with activities of daily living (i.e., eating, bathing, or dressing) and/or medical tasks (i.e., taking medication or doing required exercises).

According to the 2015 Report Caregiving in the U.S., produced by the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and the AARP Public Policy Institute (PPI), approximately 34 million Americans provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the prior 12 months. Caregivers spend an average of 25 hours per week providing care, but this increases to nearly 45 hours per week for the spouse or partner of a care recipient. In addition, nearly 16 million adult family caregivers care for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.

With an increasing number of Veterans requiring some form of caregiving or assistance, there is a growing need for evidence-based research that supports family and/or informal caregivers. Studies funded by VA's Health Services Research & Development Service (HSR&D) address many aspects of the informal caregiver’s role, such as emotional support, access to services, and in-home safety. In addition, VA HSR&D’s Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI) Caregiver Support (VA-CARES) Evaluation Initiative also works with Caregiver Support Program to evaluate short-term impacts of the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers and the Caregiver Support Services Programs.

Read more findings from several specific research projects conducted by HSR&D and QUERI investigators on issues critical to improving quality of caregiving for Veterans, as well as the experience of the caregivers.