Nearly ten million Veterans are age 65 or older. According to the National Council for Aging Care, over a million of these retired Veterans served in the Korean War, just under a million served in WWII, and the remainder (4.8 million) served in Vietnam. Within the next five years, another 1.6 million Vietnam Veterans will reach retirement age.
These aging Veterans have more options than previous generations did – and as U.S. life expectancy goes up so does the desire to remain in our own homes, where we feel comfortable. In fact, 90% of Americans plan to age in their homes, according to AARP data. Aging in place is a growing trend among Veterans and civilians, alike. But with age comes a natural decline in mobility and energy and weakening of bones and muscles. That might be why only 50% of adults surveyed by AARP Livable Communities said they believe they’ll be able to stay in their own homes as they age.
Aging in place isn’t right for everyone, but for those who are capable of managing daily tasks and caring for themselves, it can be an ideal alternative to an assisted living community. Determining whether a person is capable of aging in place depends on several factors. The following questions are meant as a general guide.
- Medication. Does he/she remember to take medications at prescribed doses and times?
- Meal preparation. Is he/she able to cook and eat balanced meals?
- Safety and mobility. Does he/she have difficulty getting around or taking stairs?
- Personal hygiene. Can he/she bathe, groom, and do laundry alone?
- Transportation. Does he/she still drive? If not, is there an alternate method of transportation available for doctor visits, grocery shopping, etc.?
- Socialization. Does he/she continue to socialize with friends both inside and outside the home?
- Home management. Is his/her home clean and in good working order?
- Financial management. Does he/she pay bills on time, and regularly check for and open mail?
A “no” answer to some of the questions doesn’t necessarily mean aging in place is the wrong choice. In fact, for aging Veterans or surviving spouses, it could mean eligibility for VA benefits designed to help pay for assistance with these types of tasks.
Veterans and surviving spouses who are eligible can obtain benefits to ease the financial burden of paying for much-needed home care. Our partner providers know that VCC’s mission is to improve the quality of life for Veterans and their spouses. We partner with quality home care providers to help Veterans navigate the VA’s process of applying for pension funds, maximize their VA pension benefits and get much-needed care started as quickly as possible.
This month, we’re focusing on Aging in Place, sharing tips, and working to ensure that our wartime Veterans have access to the home care they need in order to continue leading safe, healthy lives in the comfort of their own homes.
If you’re a home care provider interested in partnering with VCC in our mission, click here.