Heart disease is the leading cause of hospitalizations in the VA health care system. It’s also a leading cause of death – accounting for nearly one in three people– in the U.S. Several studies suggest that Veterans are particularly vulnerable to heart disease*. There are a few reasons that likely contribute to this, such as an increased risk of coronary heart disease in combat-deployed Veterans, Veterans with PTSD and those exposed to Agent Orange.
Not all our nation’s Veterans suffer from service-related illnesses, however. Other factors, such as depression, high blood pressure, and diabetes, can contribute to an increased risk of heart-related issues. More than 52 million Americans are age 65 or older. According to the National Institute on Aging, 60% of this demographic suffer from high blood pressure, and 20% (or ten million) suffer from Diabetes. If 20% of elderly Americans are Veterans, we can safely assume that there are roughly six million Veterans with high blood pressure and two million with diabetes.
Besides health issues such as high blood pressure and diabetes, certain traits such as obesity, and specific habits, including smoking and a lack of physical activity, can contribute to an increased risk of developing heart disease. Ensuring that they get the care they need can absolutely make a difference in the lives of aging Veterans.
This is why heart health is such an important initiative and why we’ve designated February as Hearts of Heroes month at VCC. We’re raising awareness about Veteran heart health and how home care services can help manage and minimize the symptoms of heart-related illnesses. It’s our mission to improve Veterans’ lives. Veterans and Surviving Spouses with non-service related heart conditions could be eligible for VA benefits to help pay for home care services such as:
Aging Veterans who suffer from obesity are at an increased risk of developing heart disease or suffering from a heart-related illness. Preparing nutritious meals that include plenty of fruits and vegetables can help elderly Veterans eat a healthier diet and ensure they get the vitamins they need to live longer lives.
Loneliness is tied to the highest levels of depression and, according to one study, is especially common among older adults. In the case of Veterans, it’s prevalent among those who fought decades ago. Aging Veterans are at higher risk of attempting suicide and are also more reluctant to seek help. These factors can drive elderly Veterans to remedy their loneliness through unhealthy means such as overeating, drinking more alcohol and generally not taking care of themselves. As a home care provider, companionship is arguably one of the most important benefits you can offer an aging Veteran.
Assistance with Daily Tasks
For aging Veterans, especially those suffering from heart issues, completing simple tasks can become difficult. Bathing can be a burden for an elderly Veteran who is afraid of falling in the shower. Dressing can become a chore when it’s difficult to fasten and unfasten buttons and zippers. And pride in being independent can stop these Veterans from asking for help even when it’s needed. Home care can help ensure that our elderly Veterans are taken care of with the respect they deserve, offering reminders for important tasks such as taking medications and paying bills.
Despite their increased risk of heart disease, there is hope for our aging population of Veterans. This month, we’re focusing on Hearts of Heroes, sharing heart-healthy tips, and working to ensure that our wartime Veterans have access to the home care they need in order to lead healthy lives. At Veterans Care Coordination, our mission is to help Veterans and surviving spouses gain access to home care services when they need it most. We partner with quality home care providers and help to navigate the process of applying for VA Pension funds, maximize pension benefits, and get care started as quickly as possible. For more information, click here or call 855-380-4400.
If you’re a home care provider interested in partnering with VCC in our mission, click here.