The people who served our country frequently require specialized healthcare. Are you wondering how best to care for aging veterans? Here are 5 best practices.
Tips for Caring for Aging Veterans
Support Physical, Mental and Emotional Health
Veterans may suffer from mental and emotional scars as well as chronic injuries. Therefore, it’s vital to address their overall health and not just their physical wellbeing. Common mental health conditions include anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you don’t feel like you have the expertise to manage these types of psychiatric and psychological disorders, talk to your supervisor. They should be able to recommend training or support services. In addition, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs maintains a comprehensive mental health section on their website. This is a wonderful resource for caregivers and families.
Recognize Veterans as Individuals
Unfortunately, sometimes it’s easy to form stereotypical views of veterans. However, just like any other group, veterans come from all walks of life. This includes diverse cultures, socio-economic classes, religious backgrounds, and more. Additionally, every person will have specific medical needs and different attitudes toward those treatments. For example, a veteran who is confined to a wheelchair may have a positive and upbeat outlook. On the other hand, a veteran who’s in excellent physical condition may be suffering from severe PTSD. As a result, don’t rely on a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead work to develop customized care plans for each of your veteran patients.
Keep a Routine
The military is famous for its strict routines, and many veterans continue these regimented practices throughout their entire lives. Thus, if your patient prefers to maintain a structured schedule, be accommodating. This strategy may be better for everyone. After all, you’ll learn some good-old-fashioned discipline and they’ll be more comfortable.
Listen to Their Stories
Listening is one of the best ways to connect with elderly patients. If veterans are proud of their service, they’ll want to share their experiences. And if they’ve suffered through traumatic events, talking about them may serve as a form of therapy. Of course, sometimes it’s difficult to listen to war stories for hours on end. So, after a respectable amount of attention, it’s OK to redirect your patient’s focus to a new conversation or activity.
Help Them Connect with a Community
While your patient was in the military, they were part of a team. Often, upon returning to civilian life, many veterans miss this 24/7 camaraderie. If possible, and especially if your patient seems lonely, try to reconnect them to a group. This could be a Monday morning coffee klatch, a local veteran’s organization, or service clubs like Rotary International or Kiwanis.
Would You Like to Find a Job Caring for Aging Veterans?
Anodyne Services places home care and healthcare professionals throughout Eastern Massachusetts. We have multiple openings for all types of caregivers, and our recruiters would be happy to match you with a position that best fits your skillset. Submit your resume today to get started!