(146) Bedraggled: Care for the Family Caregiver

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Golly, Miss Molly

A Blog about a Service Dog and her Veteran with PTSD

(Supporting the Veteran and the Family Caregiver)

Melting snow puddles beneath our pine-laden front yard. Molly does not like being dirty but her magnetic white fur and plumed tail drag in a trail of mud and pine needles. I am teaching her to render each paw so I can dab up the mud before coming inside. No matter how much I clean her, she remains bedraggled.

I use the word bedraggled too much lately. It is not just Molly’s condition that I refer to—it is mine, as well. Feeling dragged through the mud, I plop on the couch believing I cannot do one more thing. It strikes me that doing one more thing describes family caregivers every day. Our duties never end–meal preparations, laundry, doctor appointments for your spouse or child, making beds, cleaning, bills, and the list goes on. Add to that the holiday season tasks and you have one very bedraggled caregiver.

This holiday season, take time for yourself and maybe take a day or two off to do something fun or relaxing for just you. There are plenty of resources available to the family caregiver of a Veteran that you can take advantage of.

Start by visiting http://www.caregiver.va.gov/, the Department of Veterans Affairs website for family caregiver support. The VA offers a free six-week on-line course for family caregivers. Telephone support is available to the caregiver for a Veteran by calling 1 (855) 260-3274. Other services include access to a caregiver coordinator, toolkit of ideas and forms to care for your Veteran, networking, seminars, and special caregiver events. The VA offers special assistance for family caregivers of Post-911 disabled Veterans.


VA sponsored respite care gives you up to 30 days a year of in-home care for your Veteran spouse or child, who requires full-time care, giving you time away to rest. Also available are Adult Day Health Care, Home-Based Primary Care, Skilled Home Care, Homemaker and Home Health Aide, and Home Tele-Health Care.

You are not Alone

The Family Caregiver Alliance estimated that there are over 52 million family caregivers in America with one out of five caring for a family member 40 hours a week or more. Forty-eight percent of caregivers report receiving supplemental care for their spouse or child, including transportation, home-delivered meals, and respite care. This means we are not alone in our caring for a disabled Veteran.

Reach out to one of the many resources available to family caregivers today. Consider getting help such as:

  • On-line grocery shopping and home delivery often available from Walmart or your local grocery store
  • Pre-cooked meals for delivery
  • Respite care for a few days off
  • Tele-health to reduce trips to the VA Hospital
  • Special tools to manage your Veteran’s medication, doctor’s appointments, and overall health information
  • Caregiver seminar or retreat
  • A listening ear by calling the VA Caregiver support line at 1 (855) 260-3274.

Just like a major fast-food chain states, “You deserve a break today.”

Dump the bedraggled and become the bedazzled

by getting help and rest this holiday season with family caregiver resources!

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How do you find time to take care of yourself while caring for your Veteran? Please reply below.

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About the blogger

Dr. Penelope “Penny” Culbreth-Graft is a retired city manager and graduate professor. She lives with her disabled Vietnam Veteran husband, William, and his service dog, Molly, on Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado. She writes, paints, cares for her husband, and spends time with her granddaughter.