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How to Care for our Veteran Population

4 Tips For Caring For Aging Veterans

Caregivers can help enhance the quality of life for veterans by advocating on their behalf and helping them find services for their unique needs.

Veterans have sacrificed everything to protect and serve our country. They have served in conflicts around the world for the freedoms that we have today. It is essential that veterans are cared for both physically and mentally, both during and after their time in the service. Throughout the duration of their lives, we should continue to honor and care for them.

According to the 2012 U.S. Census brief (census.gov), there were more than 12.4 million veterans ages 65 and older. With veterans and the population in general having a greater life expectancy than in years past, it’s important that our care can help sustain the public services and special support that these individuals need.

1. Getting the right care

The type of care that veterans may need will vary and can include routine physical care, traumatic brain injury care, treatment for post traumatic stress disorder and other emotional needs, rehabilitation, nutritional and dietary needs, wound injury and trauma, and more. The diversity and uniqueness of the care is as diverse and unique as the individuals who have fought for our country.

2. Paying for care

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides benefits and services for a variety of issues that veterans face.

Compensation can include disability compensation, Special Monthly Compensation (SMC), Adapted Housing grants (benefits.va.gov), Service-Disabled Veterans’ Insurance (benefits.va.gov), Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (benefits.va.gov), Aid and Attendance (A&A) and Housebound care (benefits.vs.gov), Extended or long-term care and geriatric care.

Much of this compensation is a tax free monetary benefit paid to veterans and/or their spouses, surviving spouses and parents. Which programs each Veteran qualifies for will depend on their unique circumstances.

There were more than 12.4 million veterans ages 65 and older in 2012, according the the U.S. Census brief.

3. Supporting Mental and Emotional Health

Many veterans need more than just physical care. They need mental and emotional care to help them in dealing with PTSD, depression, suicidal thoughts, hopelessness, anxiety and other issues.

The VA offers mental health care for veterans (mentalhealth.va.gov), and is committed to a recovery-centered approach. Veterans can receive primary care for mental illnesses or receive more intensive treatment in specialty mental health care if necessary.

4. Activities to increase quality of life

Caregivers can help improve the overall quality of life for veterans on a day-to-day basis by engaging with them in different activities.

  • Allow them to share stories: Ask veterans stories about when they were younger. Many of them will love to re-live tales from their past and share them with someone else.
  • Let them give back: Although veterans have already given so much, it can be important for them to continue this spirit of giving to others. Find a place where they can volunteer. It can help boost confidence and give a sense of purpose.
  • Help them find community: Military life has a built-in community and many veterans may miss that once they are no longer active. Help them find a group where they can connect with others and share similar experiences.
  • Keep a routine: Many veterans are used to regimented routines and thrive off of schedules. Keep a regular routine each day and allow them to know the schedule. This can give them a sense of peace.

For years these veterans were advocates on behalf of us—whether it was directly or indirectly. We have all benefited from the sacrifices they have made. Caregivers can be their advocates by helping them navigate through various VA benefits, finding mental health solutions and doing daily activities with them that increase their quality of life.

Home Care Tip:

Caregivers should pay attention to veterans and what their individual needs are. Make sure to also recognize the abilities that veterans still have and to acknowledge those as well.

Ted Wolfendale

Administrator at Dial-a-Nurse
Mr. Wolfendale is a graduate of Stetson University, and Stetson University School of Law, and was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1988. He is admitted to practice in the Middle district of Florida, is an active member of the Florida Health Law section, and Lee County Bar Association.

In 1995 he became Administrator of Dial-a-Nurse nursing agency, the oldest nursing agency in the Southwest Florida succeeding his mother who started the company 37 years ago. He is also President of Nevco, Inc., an educational healthcare training company begun in 1988.

Mr. Wolfendale has worked with the U.S. Department of Commerce on various Missions to improve the quality of life around the world by development of supportive healthcare programs. In 2005 he traveled with U.S. officials and addressed the Italian National Government assisting in the creation of Nurse Education mandates for that Country. In 2006 he was invited and spoke with the National Institutes of Continuing Education in Eastern Europe on healthcare education and developmental mandates, and most recently represented the United States at the European Union in Lake Balaton, Hungary in 2011. In 2014 he traveled with the U.S. Department of State to Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam in an effort to improve caregiver knowledge and training.

Mr. Wolfendale has worked with a number of non-profits in contributing and creating curriculum to improve the quality of life in third-world countries since 2001, and notably created a successful program in Odessa, India that has been modeled in other areas of the world. In his backyard, he has worked with local Goodwill Industries to provide curriculum and training to underserved individuals who have obtained employment as a result of educational training. He was the Congressional appointment to the Governor's purple ribbon task force in 2013, and has worked to educate caregivers in all aspects of Alzheimer's training.
Ted Wolfendale

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