REACH VA Program Helps Both Caregivers And Veterans
March 11, 2011 – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has already taken steps to support those individuals serving as caregivers for veterans in need. Now they are taking yet another step and increasing support across the country for the caregivers who look after veterans that are suffering specifically from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer’s Caregiver Health in VA (REACH VA) is a pilot program with a proven successful track record for accomplishing two distinct goals:
- Diminishing caregivers’ stress; and
- Improving the level of care bestowed on veterans.
Providing care for veterans with Alzheimer’s or dementia presents unique challenges and therefore caregivers in those situations require different support structures. Like most caregivers, those working with veterans with Alzheimer’s report declining health, increased loneliness, heightened levels of frustration, and being easily overwhelmed.
REACH VA spent 6 months providing caregivers 12 counseling sessions, both in-home and over the phone including:
- 5 telephonic group support sessions;
- a care guide covering 48 topics focused on behavior and stress;
- training on patient safety issues; and
- lessons on remaining healthy while in a care-giving role.
The results were very impressive. Caregivers’ depressive symptoms were reduced, they reported lower levels of frustration, and surprisingly their veterans displaying fewer dementia-connected behaviors.
REACH VA gives caregivers more confidence in their ability to perform their job well. This generally leads to caregivers performing their jobs more competently, which is better for everyone involved. By providing the training for the caregivers, the VA is allowing veterans to stay in their homes and receive care from people they know and trust.