VA Caregiver Support
Michael Murphy has always relied on his wife, Teresa Murphy, to be his Caregiver. However the definition of Caregiver changed dramatically three years ago after undergoing three spinal surgeries, leaving all but one arm immobile. Since that time Teresa has assumed the role of her husband's primary Caregiver, helping take care of all of his needs.
Teresa has always been a Caregiver in one capacity or another, from raising children to caring for her grandmother and even working as a Caregiver for the State of Idaho, she has had plenty of experience.
"I enjoy caregiving; it's an obvious and natural thing for me to do," Teresa said. "I always enjoyed taking care of the kids and my grandmother."
She emphasizes that people need dignity and respect and she always puts herself in the other person's shoes asking herself if I were in this situation what would I want for myself.
The job of Caregiver is not always easy – there is no end of the day for Teresa and her husband's needs must be placed before her own.
"It doesn't matter if you don't feel well or if you're having a bad day, their needs get met," Teresa added.
The Murphys are grateful for all of the care and services that they have received from the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks and their Home Based Primary Care (HBPC) team. Kelly Kirby, HBPC Social Worker, helps educate Caregivers about the services available through the VA and in the community. This includes providing resources and information on stress management and self care.
"Caregivers need to take care of themselves if they are going to take care of someone else," Kirby stressed.
In addition, Kirby noted that it is important to highlight the dedication and sacrifices that Caregivers must make.
"Our Veterans have dedicated themselves and sacrificed so much for our country," Kirby said. "It's wonderful to see Caregivers, like Teresa, dedicate themselves to our Veterans."
Despite its challenges, Teresa has a positive attitude and turns to laughter to get through the hard times. The greatest reward for Teresa is having her husband at home so that they can be together and still have a strong, caring relationship. While being a Caregiver has its challenges, Teresa would not have it any other way.
"I would be so worried if I wasn't here caring for Michael," she said.