Caring for Veterans

According to the U.S. Census, there are 18.2 million veterans in the United States. Of that 18.2 million, 12.3 million are over the age of 55. As these seniors and their loved ones begin to consider care options that will allow them to age in the comfort of their own home, they have some unique needs to consider.

A qualified caregiver will understand the support that will best help a veteran who could be dealing with Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Parkinson’s, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The American Legion describes PTSD as a natural reaction to experiencing a traumatic or life-threatening event. Survivors of such events may exhibit symptoms including intrusive memories of the event, avoiding situations that remind them of the event, negative alterations of mood, and hypervigilance. “Exposure to traumatic events can result in significant psychological injury, which when left untreated can have a long-term effect on a veteran’s health and well-being” (The American Legion). A qualified caregiver would be able to keep family members and healthcare providers up to date on a senior’s condition. There is indescribable value in having a caregiver that knows the senior dealing with PTSD personally, allowing them to have insight on how they’re doing day-to-day and week-to-week. A change in their mood or other warning sign could be picked up sooner because of a friend with a watchful eye.

The U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) suggests Caregivers:

  • Learn as much about PTSD as possible through lectures, the veteran’s treatment team, and the experiences of other veterans
  • Encourage the veteran cared for to seek mental health treatment
  • Recognize that a veteran’s social and/or emotional withdrawal is due to their own condition and not a reflection of their relationship with their caregiver
  • Pay attention to changes in behavior and keep the veteran’s treatment team and/or loved ones informed
  • Visit their own doctor regularly and stay attuned to their own needs

While the VA can be an important federal resource for veterans, keep in mind that there are some concerns about the efficiency and effectiveness of this agency. Some consider the process of applying for benefits confusing and others find their website difficult to navigate. The National Council For Aging Care has compiled a list of resources of which veterans approaching retirement age can take advantage. Things like supplemental income, survivors pension, life insurance, and disability compensation all have programs in place to support veterans. Being able to navigate resources like this alongside the advice of the State Veterans Affairs Office will help veterans and their loved ones know how to get the support they need.

A strong support system, anchored by a caring, dedicated companion can make all the difference in the world. The foundation of Seniors Helping Seniors® in-home care services is mature, active seniors who can not only attend to a veteran’s needs but also make a personal connection with them. This allows veterans to feel protected and cared for the same way they chose to protect our country. Veterans that value their nation’s independence can maintain independence and dignity while aging comfortably in their own homes.