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Most Caregivers of Veterans Don’t Use Respite Care — We Want That to Change

Caring for a loved one can be a full-time job. But only about 1 in 7 U.S. caregivers has taken advantage of short-term respite care resources to take a break, Bob Stephen, our vice president for caregiving and health programs, said Wednesday at an AARP-sponsored conference on veteran and military caregiving.

Most veterans are eligible to receive respite care from trained nurses or aides through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), allowing their caregivers flexibility to run errands, schedule appointments or simply take a break. But Stephen said veteran caregivers often choose not to seek out respite care because of their desire to prioritize their loved one. “If I take a break, that’s admitting that I can’t do this, or I feel selfish,” Stephen said.

Stephen spoke on a panel at the seventh annual National Caregiver Convening, an event organized by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and the VA aimed at laying out priorities, policy proposals and expectations for the future of caregiving, with a focus on veterans. He was joined by VA officials and others to discuss challenges faced by military and veteran caregivers, how to support caregivers after losing those for whom they cared, and how to better enable veterans to age in place.

The conference also featured a video from AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins, who highlighted our veteran-specific resources, including the recent launch of the AARP Veterans Fraud Center to protect veterans and their families from fraud. We also maintain a Veterans Resources hub featuring a guide to navigating military health benefits, a veterans-specific job board, a caregiving guide and free career and résumé-writing guidance, among other resources.

Watch a recording of the event, and learn more about how we’re fighting for veterans and their loved ones.

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