April is national Parkinson’s Awareness month. About 1 million Americans live with Parkinson’s Disease (PD). If population percentages are accurate, that means more than 130,000 of these people are Veterans or surviving spouses of Veterans* – and could be eligible for VA benefits that help offset the cost of non-service related home care.
While it’s widely thought that Veterans diagnosed with Parkinson’s may have developed the disease from increased exposure to a range of chemical, physical and environmental hazards during their military service, the cause of Parkinson’s is not yet known. However, there is some evidence that genetics and environmental factors contribute to the likelihood of developing the disease.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s vary and the rate of progression is often different for each individual. Those with PD may experience tremors, slowness of movements, limb rigidity and difficulty with balance and gait. Non-movement symptoms are also quite common in those with Parkinson’s, although their prevalence doesn’t necessarily signify a positive diagnosis. These are:
Memory and attention problems
One in four Americans age 65 and older reports mild cognitive impairment and one in 10 suffers from dementia, according to a Washington Post article. These percentages increase significantly in those over age 85.
Depression and anxiety
One in three Veterans has been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health. According to the VA’s national registry for depression, Veterans age 65 and older are diagnosed with major depressive disorder at a rate more than twice that found in the general population of adults 65 and older. Depression can also lead to heart disease and memory loss.
Fatigue and insomnia
A significant percentage of Veterans – roughly 75% – have reported symptoms consistent with insomnia, according to one study. Lack of sleep can contribute to other health problems such as depression and cardiovascular diseases. Whether a Veteran or surviving spouse has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease or suffers from some of the symptoms commonly associated with PD, there is hope. Ensuring that they get the care they need can absolutely make a difference. Beyond medication and medical treatments, home care services can help to manage symptoms and improve comfort. Veterans with non-service related symptoms of PD could be eligible for VA benefits to help pay for home care services such as:
Patients with Parkinson’s and those suffering from the symptoms of PD may be prescribed medications by their doctors. Home care providers can help elderly Veterans remember to take medications as prescribed.
Elderly Veterans, especially those living alone, may not take the time to prepare and eat healthy, balanced meals. But for those suffering from the symptoms of PD, a healthy, balanced diet is critical. Some foods can ease symptoms, while others can affect the way medications work. Home care providers can help to ensure elderly Veterans are incorporating healthful foods into their daily meals.
Safety and mobility
Parkinson’s Disease can cause sufferers to have difficulty balancing and walking steadily. They may also experience tremors, slowness of movements and limb rigidity. These mobility issues create fall risks in seniors that can lead to serious injuries. Home care providers can help Veterans navigate stairs, steps and slippery surfaces in and around the home.
Aging Veterans and surviving spouses may be eligible for VA benefits designed to ease the financial burden of paying for much-needed home care. Our mission is to improve the quality of life for Veterans and their families. We partner with quality home care providers to help navigate the VA’s process of applying for pension funds, maximize VA pension benefits and get care started as quickly as possible.
During Parkinson’s awareness month, we hope to help as many Veterans as possible gain access to the home care they need in order to continue living the high-quality life they deserve.
If you have questions about home care and the VA Pension benefits that may be available to you, contact your provider today or call us at 855-380-4400.If you’re a home care provider interested in partnering with VCC in our mission, click here.