Caring For Our Veterans With Compassion and Dignity
Monday, May 25 marks Memorial Day, a federal holiday to remember, honor, and mourn the military personnel who have died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Veterans are very dear to us, as we see many of them as part of our home care and hospice care services in Santa Clara and elsewhere. It’s important that our veterans are treated and cared for with the highest levels of compassion and dignity, not just because they are human beings worthy of the most basic respect, but because they served our country and gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Unique End-of-Life Needs of Veterans
One in four dying Americans has served in the military, according to We Honor Americans. While each individual is unique, veterans as a whole have special end-of-life needs. Many have experienced isolation, illness, or trauma as a result of serving their country. Some have never received recognition after their return home all those years ago. Our hospice care providers do all they can to bring comfort to veterans through a respectful acknowledgment of their service, as well as compassionate listening.
The wounds of war extend past beyond the battlefield in many ways, presenting physical and psychological conditions later on. That’s why this portion of the population has unique health care needs that must be addressed. Some health concerns facing veterans in home care and hospice include:
- Hearing loss: Hearing loss and impairment, common side effects of loud noises, can stem from gunfire, weapons, engine rooms, and aircraft. Veterans who used to work extensively with machinery often feel the effects of vibration exposure, which can result in chronic numbness in the hands and fingers, as well as lower back pain.
- Musculoskeletal injuries and pain: Pain in the knees, backs, necks, or shoulders are common. In fact, studies reveal that 100,000 veterans of the Gulf War just two decades ago have chronic muscle pain, according to Live Science.
- Mental health issues: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the most common side effects and gets a lot of attention, but there are many other mental issues that don’t get as much media attention, including alcohol abuse, violent behavior, and depression.
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): A blow to the head, if severe enough, causes damage to the brain, a common injury suffered by soldiers who fought on the ground, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan. Blast exposures, along with other combat-related activities, put soldiers at an elevated risk for the development of many long-term health problems, such as aggression, memory loss, dementia, and depression, points out the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Other common effects of TBI? Inability to process information, shortened attention spans, irritability, depression, lack of motivation, and chronic headaches.
- Infectious disease: Yes, it’s true that military personnel are given routine vaccinations before they are deployed for service, but many veterans still suffer from infections that civilians don’t, and for which vaccines are not currently available. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers vaccines for common bacterial infections, for instance.
How We Can Help
Pathways is always very sensitive to veterans’ needs. We understand and address the unique health risks and care needs that veterans require and do all we can to ensure we meet them. From exposure to chemical agents to post-traumatic stress disorder, our veterans have unique mental health issues resulting from the nature of their service. This is why we train our medical social workers in the special needs of veterans. They can offer access to community resources designed specifically for veterans and their families. Additionally, we are aware of the factors that determine their eligibility for targeted VA services. As such, we partner with local VA facilities to coordinate the best care possible for this segment of our hospice population.
We also honor Veterans with a pinning ceremony in recognition of their service to our country and fellow citizens. The ceremony, conducted by the Pathways We Honor Veterans team, presents the veteran with a Certificate of Appreciation and Veteran pin, which contains the American Flag, Eagle, and dog tags. It bears the inscription “PROUDLY SERVED.”
What We Do
The home health care staff is comprised of a multitude of professionals who can each provide invaluable services to our veterans, such as:
- Home health aides: These aides assist with personal care tasks such as bathing and dressing for those who suffer from limited physical abilities.
- Physical and occupational therapists: As part of a coordinated rehabilitation plan based on the patient’s goals and abilities, these therapists provide therapy for musculoskeletal injuries and pain.
- Social workers: These professionals give advice about resource planning, help with long-term care arrangements, and provide short-term counseling if the person has PTSD or other mental health issue.
- Nurses: Nurses offer hands-on care, educate the patient about their condition and treatment, evaluate them, provide assessments to the physician, and address pain control and medication.
Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice
For more information on how we help care for the veterans in our hospice care program, please contact us at 888-978-1306.