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    How to Help Your Parent If They Are a Veteran

    Caring for aging parents can be challenging, especially when those parents are veterans who may be dealing with service-related health issues. According to a 2021 report, there are around 19 million veterans in the United States, with over 34% of them aged 65 or older . As these veterans enter their golden years, many require assistance from family members with daily tasks, medical care, and even emotional support. Looking after elderly veteran parents provides an opportunity to give back and show appreciation for their service and sacrifices. This is why it’s so important for adult children to learn how to properly care for their aging veteran parents. This article will examine how you can do that.

    How to Help Your Parent If They are a Veteran

    Providing Transportation

    One of the first areas that aging veterans may need assistance with is transportation. As eyesight deteriorates and reflexes slow, many elderly veterans stop driving on their own. This can lead to isolation and difficulty getting to doctor’s appointments, the grocery store, and social events. 

    You can provide a lifeline by offering transportation services. Be sure to accompany them on drives at first to evaluate their comfort level and abilities. Also, schedule regular driving times for essential errands and outings. Transportation services like the Disabled American Veterans van can also be utilized. With some planning and time commitment, adult children can greatly assist their veteran parents by providing safe and reliable transportation.

    Assisting with Medical Care

    One of the most important tasks you can provide is assisting aging veteran parents with their healthcare. Schedule and attend medical appointments, take notes, ask questions, and act as an advocate. For those who served at Camp Lejeune from the 1950s through the 1980s, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential health risks associated with water contamination during that time. If your aging veteran parent was stationed there, they might be eligible for medical benefits. 

    Navigating these benefits can be complex, and it’s beneficial to reach out to a claim service center to understand the full extent of potential compensations and medical assistance. Keep a list of medications and refill as needed, and learn about their medical conditions and potential treatment options. Additionally, you must stay on top of screenings, tests, and immunizations and monitor your diet and exercise. You can provide invaluable help navigating complex medical systems and ensuring your parents get the best care possible.

    Helping with Finances 

    Managing finances becomes more challenging as veterans enter advanced age. It’s easy to lose sensitive documents in this age. Similarly, medical expenses can also start to pile up. 

    You can offer help by sitting down with them to organize financial statements and paperwork. Also, set up online banking for them and automatic bill pay if possible. Review their income sources and make sure all eligible benefits from the VA, Social Security, and pensions are being received. Additionally, watch for potential scams; some are specifically aimed at seniors and veterans. 

    You can also offer to attend meetings with financial advisors and help them take notes and handle tasks like paying bills and filing taxes if needed. Keeping their finances in order will provide peace of mind to both you as a child and them.

    Making the Home Safer

    As mobility decreases, the home environment needs adaptation to improve safety and accessibility. Make sure to install grab bars in showers and near toilets. Add railings on both sides of stairways, improve lighting throughout the home, and remove loose rugs and clutter to reduce the risks of falls and trips. For emergencies, install a medical alert system so they can call for help if needed. 

    If climbing up stairs is difficult for them, arrange for a bed on the main floor. With just a few home modifications, you can assist your parents and prevent serious hazards. Your knowledge of their daily routines and abilities also allows for the best ways to adapt and modify your home for safe aging.

    Providing Social Outlets

    Isolation and loneliness are familiar issues for the elderly. Help combat this by ensuring your aging veteran parents have regular social interactions. If they seem to be hesitating to reach out, schedule visits with family and friends and arrange for them to attend social functions at the local senior center or place of worship. Also, set up phone calls or video chats with long-distance loved ones. You can also volunteer to take them to community events, recreation activities, and special outings. Social engagement is vital for mental health and quality of life, and you can facilitate meaningful connections that allow your aging veterans parents to stay involved.

    Offering Emotional Support  

    In addition to physical assistance, they also need emotional support, so listen compassionately as they share their stories from their military service. Display interest in their achievements and history and offer reassurances if they express worries over declining health and abilities. 

    Additionally, take out some time to spend with them focused on their interests and hobbies. Sharing uplifting news and humor and complimenting them on their strength and resilience also helps. If signs of depression arise, seek medical advice promptly. Ensure they know how much they are valued. With regular social interaction and loving care, emotional support from adult children can greatly boost veterans’ well-being.

    Researching Benefits

    Adult children can provide assistance by researching benefits available to aging veterans and determining eligibility. The VA offers a pension for low-income wartime veterans, as well as the Aid and Attendance allowance for those requiring at-home care. Look into whether service-connected presumptions apply for conditions like Agent Orange exposure. Also, see if they qualify for VA home care, respite care, or hospice services. 

    Adult children can utilize VA caregiver support resources on their parent’s behalf. They can also explore senior living facilities catering to veterans. Knowing and securing all entitled benefits ensures aging veterans can access the care and compensation they deserve.

    Considering Long-Term Care

    There may come a time when your parents will require care beyond what can be provided at home. You will need to honestly assess their abilities, health, living situation, and finances. Can you realistically provide 24/7 hands-on care? Is skilled nursing required? Does advanced dementia or aggression pose safety risks? Are finances depleted? 

    If residential care becomes necessary, you can still remain involved by visiting frequently to provide love and companionship. Attend care conferences to advocate for their needs and bring them their favorite foods. Maintaining close bonds, even during facility care, is key. With compassion and patience, you can make the transition easier for both yourself and them.


    Caring for elderly veteran parents brings unique rewards and challenges. By providing transportation, managing finances, overseeing healthcare, adapting their home, ensuring social outlets, offering emotional support, researching benefits, considering long-term care, and preserving their legacy, adult children can greatly enhance aging veterans’ quality of life. With some planning and commitment, families can give back and show their appreciation to those who served our country. Honoring aging veterans by caring for their needs in their golden years is a privilege and duty for many adult children.

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