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Needs of care partners of older Veterans with serious illness.

Boucher NA, Shapiro A, Van Houtven CH, Steinhauser KE, Allen KD, Johnson KS. Needs of care partners of older Veterans with serious illness. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2022 Jun 1; 70(6):1785-1791.

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BACKGROUND: The quality of life of care partners and care recipients may be improved by programs that address unmet needs. The aim of this qualitative study was to identify care partners' social and practical needs as they care for Veterans (65 yo+) with serious illness. METHODS: Semi-structured interviews with Veterans with serious illness and care partners of Veterans with serious illness. Interview question domains examined through care partner and Veteran perspectives included: types of support/services currently used, still needed, and anticipated as well as barriers to obtaining those supports/services. Qualitative analyses used an inductive descriptive content approach. RESULTS: Seventeen care partners and 11 Veterans participated. Three main themes emerged from the data: (I) care partners' and Veterans' identified barriers to support (e.g., technology, rurality, awareness of services); (II) care partners' and Veterans' understanding of available supports and services (e.g., misunderstandings regarding VA role and services, heavy reliance on VA, identified sources of support); and (III) care partners' understanding of their caregiving roles (e.g., by tasks and self-identification). CONCLUSION: Results indicate that care partners experience barriers to supporting seriously ill Veterans including awareness, information, and access obstacles that can be addressed to improve access and utilization of available services and supports.

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