Needs of care partners of older Veterans with serious illness

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2022 Jun;70(6):1785-1791. doi: 10.1111/jgs.17714. Epub 2022 Feb 28.


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.

Keywords: older adults; social supports; veterans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Caregivers
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Life
  • United States
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Veterans*