Veterans are special individuals, and as such, they should be treated with care and respect. However, many senior service members find it difficult to get the medical care they need for both their physical and mental health because navigating the systems is confusing. Medicare and veterans services are mutually exclusive, and they offer different types of care and come with separate sets of rules. It can often feel incredibly overwhelming to figure out which way to go or how to get started with a new doctor.
This is where you can come in. If you have a friend or loved one who is a Vietnam veteran, look for ways you can help them understand how to get the best care and what it will cost them. You can also assist with everyday concerns, such as taking care of the household — paying bills, cleaning, and finding assistance with making modifications to the home. These changes will help a senior stay safe and comfortable as they age in place.
Here are a few tips on how to help your veteran loved one and their family.
Get to Know the Differences in Coverage
A veteran can have both Medicare and Veterans Affairs insurance, but they can’t be used at the same time. In order to use Medicare, an approved doctor or hospital will have to give your loved one care rather than a veterans hospital. It’s very important that your loved one understands the differences and learns the best way to get both emergency care and primary care, so do some research to help them figure out which avenue works best for them. There are advantages to both, but Medicare does provide many more options.
Make Sure the House is Safe
Many veterans are living with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD, and often their homes become extremely important and comforting spaces to them. That’s why it’s so important to ensure your loved one’s house is safe and doesn’t present any fall hazards, such as clutter, throw rugs, or slippery bathroom floors. Falls are one of the major causes of injury for seniors at home, but there are simple things you can do to help prevent them. Installing a grab bar or shower seat in the bathtub and removing clutter and other trip hazards will be a great start.
Help with Daily Tasks
Even if your loved one is in good health, he or she may need help with daily tasks from time to time, such as shopping, cleaning, or taking care of the lawn. Talk to them to find out what their needs are, and if you aren’t available to help out, consider looking for hired help to come and lend a hand once in a while. Sometimes, eliminating even seemingly small chores can reduce stress on a senior’s behalf, which can help prevent major health issues.
Keep Them Connected
When seniors feel isolated, they are more at risk for depression and even physical health problems, so it’s important to help your loved one stay connected. Look online for support groups for Vietnam veterans, help them learn how to use a smartphone and apps that will help with everyday tasks, and check for opportunities in the community for them to get involved and active. Staying vital and connected can help your loved one add years to their life.
Helping a senior veteran keep their health on track can be a big job, so look for resources online and talk to their doctor about how you can make sure your loved one is safe and healthy. With a little planning, you can ensure that the veteran in your life is happy for years to come.