There’s no question that our society is strongly committed to helping our veterans and recognizing their service and sacrifices. But there are still some sizeable challenges in making sure their health needs continue to be met even years later, whether this means arranging 24-hour home care or finding a suitable assisted living community for residents of Flintridge and elsewhere.
The staff at Accredited Home Care can be a useful resource in helping arrange the best care for veterans. We have worked with many clients who have served their country over the years, and we start by providing them with the same quality care as other clients. But we also understand that they sometimes may need additional assistance due to past mental or physical health situations from their time of service.
Most veterans would likely prefer to stay in their homes or with family members if given the choice, but that isn’t always an option if they have advanced health needs.
Luckily, at-home home health care is available if requested to all veterans as a standard benefit from the Veterans Administration. Depending on each person’s mental or physical needs along with available resources in their community and current financial status, there are a variety of options available for veteran/clients along with their caregivers or family members.
Home health care clients have all sorts of different needs. Though some may be able to perform basic functions around their home, they may need some assistance with other areas.
Caregivers, for instance, can help with everything from preparing meals to running errands. Specialists can come in to offer massage therapy, occupational therapy or physical therapy.
Veterans also may need a wide range of physical help based on recent or past injuries. In some cases, an injury that was sustained decades ago may flare up or become more aggravated as someone’s body changes as they age.
Specific injuries can lead to everything from a limp or a weak limb. Military service also could lead to general wear and tear on the body, including musculoskeletal problems. Carrying a large amount of gear through difficult terrain for weeks or months can lead to future back, knee and foot problems.
Common conditions include problems with shoulders and necks. There are also reports of many veterans suffering from general fatigue and non-localized body and muscle pain. This could be related to abuse on their bodies as well as possible exposure to various toxins, chemical agents, and infectious agents although research is continuing in all of these areas.
Beyond the physical pain that many veteran clients experience is mental pain.
According to a Psychology Today column, one common challenge for returning military members is that they would like their brain to return to the state it was in prior to beginning their service. The experience in the military likely exposed them to all sort of unpleasant memories and associations.
People who experienced combat/wartime situations may have even more vivid memories that they would prefer forgetting, including death, pain, violence and other unpleasant situations. Their responses to some of these situations can still be strong, even years or decades later, including certain anxieties and fears. For instance, a bright, loud firework show on the Fourth of July sometimes can cause veterans to remember artillery displays when they were under fire.
Unfortunately, science isn’t able to easily purge these unpleasant memories. But there are a variety of therapeutic methods that can gradually help people over time. Unfortunately, this type of therapy is beyond the expertise of a home health nurse or other specialists who need to focus on providing quality care.
Veterans have higher rates of suicide and domestic violence as well as substance use and abuse as they try to deal with the mental challenges.
How to care for veterans
Knowing a client’s military or medical history may help a caregiver better understand what they might see and hear or how the client may act or react in certain situations.
Someone with physical pain may benefit from regular exercise, stretching, and various therapies. These can help reduce pain, improve strength and flexibility and even build up independence.
Someone suffering from mental pain, including post-traumatic stress disorder, might be more likely to be sensitive to loud noises or being startled. Others may not like disruptions in routine or want to avoid things that can trigger their symptoms.
Some veterans may have symptoms of PTSD but haven’t had them diagnosed – the condition is fairly new. Veterans of wars a few generations ago simply refused help or tried to solve “being shell-shocked” on their own, rather than seeking professional help or therapy to work through it.
Caregivers should be available to speak with someone’s primary provider to make sure everything is being treated well. They also can talk to family members or other members of someone’s support system.
The staff at Accredited Home Care knows that it can be challenging caring for anyone, but veterans can have even more mental or physical needs. We’re happy to be a resource for clients and their families.