Monthly Archives: January 2017

Veterans Benefits: A Simplified Overview

Obtaining veterans assistance can be a challenging task, let alone sifting through the different websites and complicated government lingo to understand what benefits are available to veterans. This post is dedicated to helping people understand and obtain veterans benefits easier.

To apply for any of these benefits, click the title to file the claim form: 

Life Insurance

There are six life insurance options, each with different qualifications and benefits that the veteran may be able to receive. Life insurance benefits will be presented in a future post.

Home Loan & Home Improvements

Veterans with qualifying service are eligible for home loan services, including guaranteed loans for the purchase or building of a home and certain types of condominiums. Some disabled veterans receive grants to have their homes adapted to their needs.

Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment

Helps veterans with service-connected disabilities prepare for, find and keep suitable employment such as job search, career exploration, and education/job training.

These benefits can also improve the ability of living as independently as possible for serious service-connected disabilities including rehabilitation services.  To qualify, veterans usually must file within 12 years of service.

Education 

There are a variety of education and training programs up to 36 months, provided to veterans with varying qualification requirements and benefits. Specific programs will be presented in another blog post.

Disability Compensation

The VA pays monthly compensation to veterans for disabilities incurred or aggravated during military service. The veteran is entitled to these benefits from the date of separation, but the claim of disabilities incurred while on military service must be filed within one year or separation from service. You can follow the link above to see all of the disability benefits available, they are all organized by the specific disability title.

Disability Pension

This is an income-based benefit paid to veterans with honorable wartime service who are permanently and totally disabled for any reason or are age 65 or older.

Medical

A wide range of health care services is available to veterans with medical problems directly resulting from a war. Generally, veterans must be enrolled in the VA health care system to receive care.

Dental

Within 180 days of separation, veterans may receive one-time dental treatment if they were not provided treatment within 90 days of separation from active duty. This time limit does not apply to veterans with dental conditions resulting from service-connected injuries.

More Information

We are confident that these simplified benefits have effectively provided you with a simplified understanding of what some veterans may be entitled to. It is important that the veteran files any claims as soon as possible after he or she has finished the service, as some benefits can expire if claims are not filed within the break from active service.  If you have any questions about veteran’s assistance, you may contact help@elderhelpers.org.

Top Board Games for seniors

What comes to mind when you think of board games? For many of us, it is fun and non-electronic games that we remember playing in our youth at school. Today, many board games exist that can be fun for people of all ages. We will share what we believe to be the best games for elders:

Scrabble: We are sure that you have heard of this classic game, scrabble consists of a series of small letters in the form of squares that the players can arrange to make words, in order to score points. It is fun to play on a rainy day with a good friend, or when volunteering for seniors or sharing time with a caregiver. 

Pictionary: The best thing about this game is the worse of an artist that you are, the more challenging that it can be. The friends for seniors can play without purchasing the game, by simply selecting random and well known words from the dictionary and drawing them within one minute to see if the other player can guess the object.

Charades: Because this game often goes off the table and can require extra space, some question its ‘authenticity’ as a board game. However, it is still a fun word-based game that operates like Pictionary, except you act the words instead of drawing.  Seniors should consult a medical professional before engaging in any physical activities.

Checkers: For some, checkers is a fun guessing game where the outcome is solely based on chance. For other more competitive and strategic players, it can be a game of strategy and skill. This game is enjoyable to people of all skill levels and is a timeless classic.

Backgammon: You can rest assured that the seniors knows about this classic board game as many people believe that it was invented over 5,000 years ago. The objective is very simple, move your pieces across the board determined by the roll of dice. The person that removes all of their pieces first wins.

Chess: This often seems like a profound strategy game that few people are good at , I have heard some of the most educated people that I know doubt their chess skills. That is because to be very good at the game, it requires memory and learning different ‘strategies’ like the Italian Game, the French or Sicilian Defense. It is not necessary to learn these, in fact, some find improvising the entire game more enjoyable to share with a good friend.

Card Games: How many card games do you know? There is almost never a good excuse to not learning another one. By learning new things, you can help preserve the elder’s memory and help them and yourself to feel a since of accomplishment by working together to learn something new. Learn about many different card games, by visiting this link.

Many of these board games for the elderly can be enjoyed both by seniors in need of assistance and their volunteer caregivers. They have been specifically chosen because they may help to improve memory in older adults by having to learn new things and think logically, or keeping home-bound seniors fit with Charades when providing home-care and companionship for the elderly.

Depression & The Elderly

Depression in seniors in not uncommon, but that does not mean that it lacks seriousness or should be taken lightly. By definition, depression is a prolonged state of sadness that is different from grieving and can last a very long time. In this post, we will help you to understand if you or an elder you know has depression. It can sometimes be difficult to determine this, as many aging diseases or other aging traits can be perceived as symptoms of depression. The good news is that you can take steps to help reduce the stressors in the senior’s life or get them professional assistance to help them feel better.

Common symptoms of depression

Difficulty concentrating or making decisions

Fatigue and decreased energy

Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness

Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism

Restlessness/IrritabilityInsomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping

Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable

Overeating or appetite loss

Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings

What you can do to help

If the elder that you care for experiences these symptoms, it may alert you that they could have depression. You may instinctively want to help them or change it, but the best things that you can do for is being a faithful friend or seeking professional help. Sometimes people like to talk about their feelings, but in most cases, discussing it only makes it worse and can cause anger towards your attempts to help. If you know the person well enough that they like to openly express their feelings, you can subtly ask them if there is anything that they would like to talk about or that has been bothering them. To not be persistent or aggressive, if they want to talk they will when they are ready.

Depending on the severity, attempting to get an able-bodied homebound senior outdoors and interacting with other people may help. Doing light exercises like water aerobics can also do a great deal of good, provided that the senior is willing and their doctor enables the activity. If the depression is more serous and the senior denies the opportunity to do any activities because he or she no longer finds them enjoyable or ‘worthwhile’, you should contact a medical professional. Their extensive experience in having elderly patients with depression gives them expertise and the elder’s doctor may know private information about their health that could be linked to the depression.

Depression is not an easy thing watch a loved one experience. With a watchful eye and caring heart, it can be spotted early and its chances of getting worse can decrease. Just be careful not to assume too quickly or ask too many personal questions, as some of the symptoms can be the result of an aging disease and not depression. You should never, under any circumstances recommend or give the senior any medication that is not prescribed by their doctor. Medication is very complex and when it is taken in combination with others or not under professional circumstances, the consequences can be very negative physically for the senior and legally for the person that recommends the medication.

Caregiver’s Guilt: Recognition and Acceptance

Every task in our lives with value carries with it some inherent challenges and problems. As students, we had the dreaded homework. If we chose to participate in sports, we had to practice, even when we did not wish to. As parents, we had those days when we really wished we had decided not to have children. If we did not do our homework, skipped practice, or took a break away from our children, we felt guilty. Guilt seemed to move on with us as the situation changed. 

Taking care of an elderly person, whether they are a parent, a friend, or someone for whom we have assumed responsibility is a valuable life experience. And, just as with any other experience with value, there are challenges and difficulties. Our responses to the daily activities we engage in as we provide for elder care needs can breed that old, familiar feeling of guilt. It helps if we recognize the reasons for elder guilt and accept them as normal.

Everyone has difficult days, and this is especially true for the elderly, who have aches and pains, may be lonely, or suffer from memory loss or confusion. Dealing with changing needs and moods can be difficult and, no matter how hard we try to stay positive, resentment can creep in and then we feel guilt. Such feelings are normal. Here are three ways you can deal with elder guilt:

  1. Be honest about your feelings. If you admit to them, that is the first step in moving on. It may help to discuss your feelings honestly with someone else involved in elder care.
  2. Take a break. Just as with child-rearing, sport practice, and homework, some time away from what is causing the stress and resultant guilt can help allay those feelings. You may only be able to step into the kitchen to retrieve a cool drink of water, but when you get there, take a deep breath and relax, then return.
  3. Learn to deal realistically with expectations – yours and the person for whom you are caring. You cannot meet every need and requirement for care, no matter how hard you try. Be happy with doing your best. Also, realize that some desires expressed by the elder in your care simply cannot be met. If they wish to eat something prohibited by their doctor that is a need you cannot meet. Be content to do what you can to keep the person in your care as healthy and comfortable as possible.

Elder care is a valuable life experience. However, there are days when everything feels overwhelming and we may not be proud of our response. When elder guilt sets in, admitting honestly to the feeling, taking a break, and realistically dealing with daily challenges and problems, can help those moments pass and make our elder care experience even more rewarding.