"Caregiver" is a title that comes with great rewards, but also a great deal of responsibility. You've likely celebrated milestones and heartwarming moments, but these moments may be scattered amongst other emotions, like stress, confusion, fatigue or feelings of isolation. These emotions and many more are all perfectly normal for someone who has assumed one of the most important roles in the life of a loved one with special needs or a life-changing injury. Each day can bring new questions and new situations, and it is important that you have access to the support you need, not only for your loved one, but also for you. Military OneSource recognizes that your needs are unique, your hours are not the traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and that often you put yourself last. That is why the support you need is never out of reach.
Free time may be hard to come by when you are the full-time caregiver for a loved one with special needs, but anytime you have a moment, Military OneSource has masters-level consultants available by telephone at 800-342-9647 or email all day, every day. Depending on your needs, you may wish to continue your conversation beyond a single question. If this is the case, you can ask to schedule a specialty consultation with an expert in the area that best fits your concerns, like special needs, elder care, adult disability care or wounded warrior.
If you are a caregiver and an active-duty service member, National Guard or Reserve Component member (regardless of activation status) or a military family member, you may also benefit from the Military OneSource confidential non-medical counseling service. At no cost to you, you can arrange to meet with a non-medical counselor face to face, online or over the phone. Whether you are having difficulty juggling your caregiver responsibilities with everything else on your schedule, you find yourself stressed or you're concerned about your own health and wellness, the confidential non-medical counseling can help you make sense of what you're feeling and help you establish goals so that you can continue to care for your loved one and yourself.
In addition to support services, specialty consultations and confidential non-medical counseling, Military OneSource offers printable organizational documents and products that can simplify your caregiver responsibilities. Your time is valuable, and you can't always afford to scour the Internet to find the support you need. With you in mind, Military OneSource conveniently offers resources tailored to your needs in one location. Here you'll find educational booklets, CDs, DVDs and articles that you can have shipped to your door at no cost.
If you're caring for a wounded warrior, you can download the Keeping It All Together notebook and organize your service member's treatment and recovery in one place. The notebook's medical journal, support and resources section, and travel and lodging section allow you to document anything you might need along the journey to recovery.
Depending on your loved one's special needs, you might also benefit from a version of the Special Care Organizational Record. The adult, child and elder care downloadable toolkits are organizational tools to help you keep track of progress, medical information, emergency plans, insurance information and other pertinent information. You can also find informative articles and links to valuable resources organized for you in the Military Life Topics menu on Military OneSource.
Caring for the caregiver
Caring for a loved one with special needs is a big commitment. It can be easy to let your own needs fall to the bottom of the to-do list while your full attention is devoted to caring for your child, spouse, parent or extended family member with special needs, illness or a life-changing injury.
Though it's not always a simple task, making a little time for yourself or finding ways to minimize stress can stretch your patience, reduce stress and help you maintain an overall level of health that allows you to offer your loved one quality care. Military OneSource's social media hub can introduce you to other caregivers facing situations that are similar to yours. You might find inspiration or a pick-me-up while browsing the content on the Blog Brigade. You can follow Military OneSource on social media outlets, like Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest to keep social media and the latest military community updates at your fingertips. Staying connected, even from the comfort of your own home can give you a positive release at the beginning or end of each day.
Social media can help you regroup mentally, but it's important not to neglect yourself physically. Make time to focus on your own health and wellness; you'll need to be at your best in order to face any challenges ahead. If you need guidance on how to create time in your already busy schedule for fitness and nutrition, the confidential health and wellness coaching resource is a great place to start. No-cost coaching is available over the phone or online, or you can choose a self-directed path. Coaches can help you create goals and steer toward them in areas like weight management, fitness and nutrition, health condition management and life transitions. No matter how hectic your schedule or what your health goals are, your goals and health concerns are valid. For all you do for your loved one, you deserve to be healthy.
Sometimes it's best to handle one day at a time. Take time to celebrate precious moments and, if a caregiving question arises between those moments of joy, Military OneSource is ready to assist you. For more information on any of the ways Military OneSource can remove stress from your daily life as a caregiver, search the website or call 800-342-9647.