May 18, 2016 | 8:00 am | By Pants Up Easy
Caregiving For Veterans With Spinal Cord Injury
It’s not easy for veterans returning home after active duty overseas. It’s sad but true that we as a nation don’t do nearly enough to support these brave individuals who have served their country so nobly. And if one of your loved ones is among the more than three million veterans with disabilities, it sure isn’t going to be any easier.
If you’re caregiving for a family veteran who suffered a spinal cord injury, you’ve taken on an equally noble task, and certainly one that’s filled with challenges. Whether the wounded warrior is a spouse or a child, you’ve taken on a heavy responsibility. Chances are that your family life is never going to be quite the same again.
Lifestyle and Environmental Changes
While it’s not easy, there are adjustments that can be made to help further your efforts. Fortunately there are resources available to support your efforts and your loved one’s needs. Occupational therapists and other practitioners can assist you with making adjustments to your loved one’s lifestyle and environment to help him or her return to as much of a functional, meaningful life as possible. Modifications can be made to the home, including wider entrances, ramps instead of stairs, support bars, and so on, to facilitate more mobility. There’s other equipment that can be a big help here as well. Wheelchairs are of course an obvious addition. Lifting devices can help transferring individuals with spinal cord injuries in and out of their wheelchair and bed, and also provide assistance with getting dressed.
Remember that you’re not alone.
I know, it’s easier said than done. But you can’t do it all yourself. Try to get help from other family members and even friends when possible. And reach out to the services that are available for veterans with spinal cord injury. These include:
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is an excellent place to start. The VA’s Spinal Cord Injuries and Disorders (SCI/D) System of Care provides ongoing support and services for veterans with SCI, including tips for living with the injury and helping locate benefits available to your loved one.
This foundation, according to its mission statement, is “dedicated to advancing quality of life and discovering cures for spinal cord injury in the here and now”. Their MIlitary and Veterans Program (MVP) provides a wealth of information including health advice and psychological support, as well as grants and links to other groups with additional valuable resources for you and your injured family member.
The PVA is another organization, founded, in fact, by veterans with spinal cord injuries, to provide information and advocacy to help other vets in the same situation achieve the goals they fought for: freedom and independence.
Caregivers need care too!
This is easy to forget when you’re caring for someone with a spinal cord injury, but we can’t emphasize this enough. If you’re going to provide effective care, you’ve got to be in good shape yourself, both in body and in mind. Your task is a difficult one. Give yourself some breaks, eat well, try to get enough rest, and get some exercise.