Skip to main content

Military Health System

Important Notice about Pharmacy Operations

Change Healthcare Cyberattack Impact on MHS Pharmacy Operations. Read the statement to learn more. 

Tips for Caregivers – How to Take Care of Yourself and Avoid Burnout

Image of Soldier sitting in gym with wife and daughter. A participant and his family watch as wounded, ill and injured service members participate in the air rifle and air pistol competitions during the 2017 Army Warrior Games Trials at Fort Bliss, Texas (Department of Defense photo by Roger Wollenberg).

Caring for a recovering service member can be hard. It can take on an added level of difficulty and stress when, as is often the case, that person is a friend, family member or loved one. Without time to recharge, burnout is a very real risk.

That's why it's so important for caregivers to take care of themselves, according to the Human Performance Resources by CHAMP (HPRC) team, part of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences' Consortium for Health and Military Performance, based in Bethesda, Maryland.

Whether it be physical support, emotional support, or just help with day-to-day activities, more than five million people in the United States are currently serving as “informal” military caregivers, without the pay, benefits or structured support systems from the civilian or Military Health Systems.

While social connections and family support are linked to healing and better outcomes after an injury, caring for a recovering service member you are close to may require more time and a higher level of resilience than, for example, caring for a child or an aging parent.

Among the Total Force Fitness and holistic health strategies the HPRC team suggests are:

Use TFF to Build Resilience and Cope with Emotional Stress

TFF focuses on overall health, including the physical, environmental, spiritual, psychological, social and financial components.

When taking on extra responsibilities, it’s common to feel negative emotions, stress, anger, frustration and even resentment. That puts caregivers at greater risk of depression, grief, exhaustion, and self-neglect. You are also more likely to develop your own health issues.

A holistic approach like TFF can increase your resilience and help address some of the emotional challenges.

Caregiver support strategies include:

  • Keep your nutritional and physical fitness in mind: Eat right, get the proper amount of sleep, exercise on a regular basis, and make regular visits with your doctor to get the best possible care.
  • Reconnect with your spirituality: Consider what matters to you and how you can connect your values to the support you provide.
  • Focus on problem solving: Often, tactical problems can be solved with a little bit of brainstorming and cooperation. List challenges and come up with strategies together as a family.

Optimize Financial Health

Because of the amount of time required to care for a recovering family member, there is often a link between financial strain and military caregiving. Some strategies to help optimize financial health are:

  • Know your resources. Several programs now offer financial and caregiving support to military families.
  • Don't let money troubles affect your relationships. If you take the time to discuss your financial concerns and focus on communication around money, your family can tackle financial challenges together.
  • Get into healthy financial habits. Budgeting can help you get on track when you are struggling. Small financial changes can make a big difference.

Build Social Support

It's easy to lose yourself while you're focused on caring for someone else, but you are not alone. Self-care and connection strategies include:

  • Get support. The Caregiver Resource Directory , Military Caregiver PEER Forum Initiative provide resources and link caregivers with other caregivers.
  • Set realistic expectations. Have patience and focus on the things that go well, not on setbacks or failures. Be open to change and look for creative solutions instead of "perfect" results.
  • Learn to say "no." Don't over-commit. Stay true to your priorities and say "no" to the rest.

More information from HPRC including links to resources for caregivers can be found here.

The HPRC team is made up of scientists, specialists and support staff who translate research into evidence-based resources to help warfighters and their families achieve total fitness and optimize performance, whether at home, in the office or in theater.

November is Warrior Care Month across the Department of Defense and DOD has no higher priority than caring for wounded, ill and injured service members and the caregivers who support them.

You also may be interested in...

Article
Jun 1, 2023

Absolute and Relative Morbidity Burdens Attributable to Various Illnesses and Injuries Among Active Component Members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2022

This annual summary uses several health care burden measures to quantify the impacts of various illnesses and injuries in 2022 among members of the active component of the U.S. Armed Forces. Health care burden metrics include the total number of medical encounters, individuals affected, and hospital bed days.

Article
Jun 1, 2023

Absolute and Relative Morbidity Burdens Attributable to Various Illnesses and Injuries Among Active Component Members, U.S. Coast Guard, 2022

This report employs the same disease classification system and health care burden measures as employed in the MSMR burden analysis of the U.S. Armed Forces active component to quantify the impacts of various illnesses and injuries among members of the active component of the U.S. Coast Guard in 2022.

Article Around MHS
May 25, 2023

More than 363 Military Health Care Providers Graduate on Armed Forces Day

Defense Health Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. Telita Crosland addressed more than 360 uniformed and civilian health professionals on May 20 as the guest speaker of USU's commencement ceremony. (Photo credit: Tom Balfour, USU)

During a ceremony steeped in tradition, the director of the Defense Health Agency, Army Lt. Gen. Telita Crosland, addressed more than 360 uniformed and civilian health professionals on May 20, Armed Forces Day, as they received their medical, graduate nursing, biomedical science, public health, and clinical psychology degrees from the Uniformed ...

Fact Sheet
May 22, 2023

Changes in Behavior, Personality or Mood Following Concussion/mTBI Fact Sheet

.PDF | 977.73 KB

This TBICoE fact sheet can be used by health care providers to educate patients with a concussion, or mild TBI, on how to manage changes in mood related to their injury. Patients and caregivers would also find this information useful.

Video
May 16, 2023

Road to the 2023 Warrior Games Challenge

Road to the 2023 Warrior Games Challenge

Wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans have trained and competed across all branches in an effort to secure a spot on their respective 2023 DOD Warrior Games Challenge teams. These are a few of the stories of those who are utilizing adaptive sports as a key component in their recovery. For more information regarding the Military ...

Last Updated: July 11, 2023
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on X Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery