Your loved one bravely fought for our country. Now, you’re fighting for him. A dementia diagnosis can be difficult news to handle, but you’re not alone and you may be eligible for assistance from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Health care services from the VA are available to support Veterans with dementia in a variety of ways, from in-home care, respite care, adult day care, skilled nursing, and even hospice care.
Your loved one means everything to you – that’s why you’re willing to go to such great lengths for your Veteran living with dementia. Perhaps he is your father, a man who devoted his life to the safety and success of his family. Maybe she’s your grandmother, who spent a lifetime putting the health of others before her own. Whoever they are, you’re committed to providing them the very best life possible throughout their senior years, regardless of what the future holds.
Our country celebrates the many sacrifices of Veterans every November: they’re thanked for their service, they’re given free meals or passes for a complimentary car wash on the 11th, and parades are held in their honor. But what if the battle scars they carry with them go beyond the amputated limbs, the torments of PTSD, and damage to their hearing?
By now, you’re already familiar with the many cognitive symptoms of dementia, a classification of illness defined by how it affects memory, reasoning, and critical thinking. These indicators are not only regularly discussed in healthcare, but often publicized in medical dramas, as well. However, what many people fail to realize is Veterans can also experience a wide range of behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD).
Can Traumatic Brain Injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Lead to Alzheimer’s Disease in Veterans?
When soldiers return home from deployment, wounds are assessed, orders are written, t’s are crossed, and i’s are dotted. The unfortunate truth is that some injuries never fully heal, and some mental trauma lingers longer than most would like to admit.
The battle was over years ago, but a new war has begun for the Veteran in your family: dementia. While forgetfulness can be a common symptom of normal aging, dementia will gradually continue to affect your loved one’s cognition, progressively making it more difficult to think critically, remember current events or family members’ names, and make decisions, which will interfere with their ability to complete everyday activities.
Veterans often find themselves battling their emotional demons after returning home from deployment and years after as they readjust to the “normalcy” of civilian life. It often takes support from fellow Veterans, friends, family members, and trained professionals to work through the traumas they carry with them throughout their new day-to-day existence.
Alyssa regularly visits her mother, Laura, who has dementia and lives in a senior community, where she has attentive care around the clock. When Alyssa learned that Laura received a breast cancer diagnosis, she wasn’t sure what to do or what care would look like. She wondered how both conditions could be treated and what her mother’s future would entail.
Mom always took care of everything. She went to all her kids’ and grandkids’ activities, loved to host family meals, and was always ready to extend a helping hand. She inhabited the role of “carer” with pride. Many women do take immense pride in providing care for others in all sorts of ways. When dementia starts to change one’s role from someone who cares for others to someone who needs care from others, the transition isn’t alway smooth.