Louisville VA Medical Center
Celebrating National Caregivers Month
Carl "Duke" Pallo is a 75 year old, service-connected, post-Korean Veteran, who lives at home with his wife of twenty-six years, Virginia. Due to his declining health, "Duke" now requires around-the-clock care. With their closest family members living in Georgia, Virginia finds herself as her husband's sole caregiver, a role which she has embraced with extraordinary dedication and compassion. But who does Virginia turn to for support?
Susan Taylor, CSW, ACSW is the newly appointed Caregiver Support Coordinator at the Robley Rex VA Medical Center. "Caregivers play a vital role in ensuring that our Veteran's needs are met on a daily basis. Many go about their day-to-day lives, caring for their loved ones, asking nothing in return. Too often, caregivers are so focused on taking care of their loved one, that they may overlook the need to care for themselves. That's why VA's Caregiver Support Program is so important".
Duke and Virginia have utilized VA healthcare services for over fifteen years. When asked about the services they receive, Virginia states, "VA has provided excellent care for "Duke". I don't know how you manage to get the "best of the best", but you do". Virginia also states that she didn't know what she would do, without the support VA has provided to her in her caregiver role. "Assistance with transportation has been the biggest help. With him being wheelchair bound, there would be absolutely no way I could get him to all his appointments. They have also provided modifications to our home and provided respite services. Duke calls this "our country club" because it seems like we are here all the time. We both feel very comfortable with the staff. They know us and we know them, which makes a huge difference."
Virginia offers the following advice to other caregivers:
• You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of others.
• Make quiet time for yourself, even if it's just in the other room with a good book.
• Move past the mentality that "nobody can care for him/her as well as I can". Be open to support offered from others: church groups, family, friends, neighbors and sharing your thoughts with other caregivers.
• Utilize available resources within the VA and community.
• Take a nice long walk every day.
• Be patient with your loved one and yourself.
The Robley Rex VA Medical Center is hosting a "Caregivers Fair" on November 23rd from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm. Along with VA staff, more than 15 community agencies will be on hand to share information on available caregiver services.
For more information, please contact Susan Taylor at 502-287-5266.