Vietnam Veterans – Unique Needs and Benefits

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The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act was signed into law in 2017. This act was designed as an official recognition of March 29th each year as the “National Vietnam War Veterans Day.” Veterans of the Vietnam War are aging and many now require additional assistance to perform their everyday activities. It is important to understand their unique needs in order to care for them respectfully and effectively.

Wounds From the War

The Vietnam War was the one of the longest wars fought by the United States, and many soldiers came home with injuries that affect them to this day.  Over 153,000 soldiers were wounded, and more than 58,000 members of the US military lost their lives in this war.

Many of the disabilities affecting Vietnam vets today were caused by exposure to herbicide and defoliant Agent Orange. Other injuries occurred due to equipment and machinery, exposure to loud noise, and contact with a variety of other chemicals during service. The Veterans Administration recommends that Vietnam Veterans be tested for Hepatitis C since they are also at high risk for this infection.

Benefits for Veterans

Fortunately, there are a number of benefits available to Vietnam veterans and their children, including:

  • Training and education
  • Disability compensation
  • Monetary benefits
  • Health care, and assistance with home or facility care
  • Insurance coverage
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Home loans
  • Burial services

After Agent Orange exposure, many children were born with birth defects, such as spina bifida. Many children of women veterans of the Vietnam war were born with birth defects including congenital heart disease, hydrocephalus, and cleft lip and cleft palate.

For access to veterans’ benefits, an application needs to be submitted to a VA regional office. An online application is available, as well as local services to help veterans find the support and medical care that is needed. The VA benefits application process can be completed by veterans, current service members, families, and accredited representatives (also called Veterans Service Officers).

At Windward Life Care, we are here to help you in finding the right resources based on your needs. Whether you are seeking medical support or you are interested in VA benefits, you are welcome to contact us for information and assistance.

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Today is the Day: Ensuring Your Estate Plan is In Order

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Estate planning is used to manage future concerns: tax strategy, retirement savings, inheritance management, and more. Since these plans are for the future, it is easy to get trapped in procrastination and fear. Even if retirement seems far away, right now is the time to take action so that you are ready no matter what happens.

Creating a good estate plan reduces or eliminates worry and stress. Often, people find that estate planning seems like an impossible task, only to discover that they breathe a sigh of relief after meeting with a professional. It is “normal” to want to delay or avoid this process. But the best thing you can do is act now to prevent future anxiety for yourself and your family.

Tips for a Complete Estate Plan

An easy, effective solution is to have an experienced attorney assist with creating an estate plan. While there are DIY guides out there, a legal professional is especially important for those with significant assets, or complex family or financial situations. Your attorney will guide the conversation, manage the paperwork, and assist with the details that need to be addressed.

An estate plan should include more than your will, financial information, and inheritance details. Everyone 18 and older should have a healthcare advance directive and also look at other services to support the plan. A complete estate plan contains a number of elements involving health and finances. There’s no reason to delay this planning. Instead, set a goal to get started with estate planning as soon as possible.

Keep in mind that creating a plan is just the first step. Regular reviews ensure that your plan is current and relevant as life changes over the years. Experts suggest an estate plan be reviewed by an experienced attorney every three to five years. It is also smart to schedule a legal consultation if there is a significant life change, such as the death of a partner, divorce, marriage, and more.

At Windward Life Care, we understand the importance of using professional services for all aspects of life planning. Our team is here to help you find local resources to assist with your needs.

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Technology for Living Independently and With Dignity at Home

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The great majority of older adults have a strong desire to live in their own homes and communities; but many adaptations need to be made in our homes to accommodate this. Technology is one piece that empowers older adults to live in their homes with dignity.

Technology has been challenging for many mature adults to comprehend and use; first it was computers, then came smartphones, both of which required investments to own and skills to use. With the advent of voice enabled technologies and AI software (artificial intelligence), access and interaction with technology has never been friendlier. Voice assistants like the Amazon Echo or Google Home which start to retail at $49, users can in their own native language interact with a whole slew of services and hardware products which earlier could only be accessed using a computer or a smartphone.

Increasingly, the ground zero of senior well-being is now shifting to their lifestyles at home; sensors are becoming more context driven, data captured and analyzed by non-intrusive sensors and wearable devices help us predict potential health situations and challenges ahead of time moving us to the realm of predictive healthcare.

Here are the many ways that technology enables us to interact with our homes to enhance our well-being and lifestyle:

Comfort and Convenience
Control lighting switches, thermostat temperature and your entertainment system with voice commands.

Security & Safety
Routine activities and social support are especially suited for elders suffering cognitive decline. These systems detect changes in patients location or environment and provide verbal assistance as needed, or if needed, notify caregivers.

Isolation and Loneliness
Using voice assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home to communicate with family friends and caregivers, staying informed, ordering supplies, booking transportation, conducting basic banking, restaurant delivery services.

Monitoring & Predictive Health
Smart sensors for monitoring activity and behavior; which serve as advance warning systems for potential health challenges.
Video devices for security.
Video cameras with AI for facial recognition, automated door locks for locking, video doorbells managing visitors without getting to the front door.

Wearables for Health Analytics
Health monitoring systems to monitor blood pressure, pulse, and movement of the patient as well as environmental data, such as ambient temperature.

Fall Protection and Management
Sensors that can detect a fall both inside and outside the home and notify emergency services and caregivers in real time.

Lighting for Well-being
LED circadian rhythm lighting for normal sleep patterns, and creating a positive environment.

Going Forward
The next phase of technology for seniors is being designed using Ambient intelligence; which combines AI (artificial intelligence) and IoT (internet connected devices), will provide real-time monitoring of an environment and event-driven response to changes in that environment. Sensors designed to detect changes in sound, motion, physiological signals, as well as more generalized image processing are core components of an ambient intelligent environment.

About Smaart House

Smaart House is a San Diego based technology provider for senior care, our purpose is to empower mature adults to live independently and with dignity in their home environment and communities. We work with individual homeowners, senior care communities and assisted living facilities to integrate and adapt technology in their environments. Please visit us at www.smaart.house for more information.

The author Bijou Lulla is the Founder and CEO of Smaart House, he can be reached at [email protected].

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Emergency Preparedness Tips for Home and Family

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Wildfires are spreading through much of the state of California, with some families facing the need to evacuate their homes. Regardless of your proximity to the fires, it is important to put together a proactive emergency preparedness plan. Not only will you be ready to keep yourself and your family safe, but you can also watch out for elderly clients and neighbors who might need assistance in an emergency situation.

Emergency Preparedness Tips to Follow

Since September is National Preparedness Month, we wanted to suggest few things that can be done in your home. Follow these tips so that you are ready if a wildfire or other emergency affects your area:

  • San Diego Emergency Phone App: The city of San Diego has a free emergency app that can be used for notifications. You will receive text message notifications and instructions when there are emergency alerts in the area.
  • Phone Charge: Communication is important in an emergency. You should always keep your cell phone charged and have the charger on hand.
  • List of Essentials: Are there any essentials that need to be grabbed on your way out the door in the event of an evacuation? Have this list handy so that you don’t overlook anything critical like medications, medical equipment, and important papers.
  • Evacuation Routes: What is the best way to escape the area? Have a map of the local evacuation routes. Knowing multiple paths out of the neighborhood can be important if the emergency is blocking your normal roads.
  • Bring the Pets: Animals are a part of the family, so don’t forget to bring your dog or cat along. Be sure to have food as well as a crate or leash. Most of the emergency shelters in San Diego are pet-friendly.

Family Caregivers and Emergency Planning

While it is important to follow the general tips listed above, don’t overlook the importance of personalized preparedness when caring for someone with health challenges. It can be helpful to have copies of that person’s medication list and care plan,  as well as enough medication to get through the critical hours of the emergency.  The Alzheimer’s Association has prepared these helpful preparedness tips for caregivers of older adults with dementia. These suggestions can be used for people with other medical concerns as well.

If you need assistance in preparing for an emergency, such as wildfires or earthquakes, then Windward Life Care is here to help you find the right resources. Contact us to learn more about the services that are available.

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Quality Care and Support for LGBTQ Aging Adults

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In honor of Pride in San Diego this month, we’d like to discuss a topic of concern in the community: providing the support that is needed for aging LGBTQ adults. It is estimated that the population of LGBTQ adults in America over the age of 65 will double by 2030, reaching a level of more than 3 million people across the country. As the older LGBTQ population grows, there are unique challenges that need to be addressed so that our society is prepared to support the needs of full diversity in the aging population:

  • Caregiving and Decision Making: Unfortunately, many LGBTQ partners and their families of choice aren’t recognized by the law, which means that family members don’t have access to medical leave to take care of a sick partner. Additionally, in the absence of a health care advance directive, decision-making can be limited to immediate family members. This can negatively affect the partner’s ability to care for their loved one.
  • Health Care: Nationally, up to 80% of long-term care for aging adults is provided by family members and relatives. LGBTQ elders, however, don’t always have close family members to lean on for assistance. As a result, they need to rely on the services of hospital, assisted living, and home care professionals who may have little or no training in working with LGBTQ older adults. In addition, paying for professional care is more costly than receiving care from family members.
  • Cultural Competency of Care Providers: Even if the person has access to health care, about 20% of LGBTQ people avoid medical care because they are afraid of discrimination. Overcoming these cultural barriers is essential so that everyone feels comfortable seeking medical care when needed.
  • Health Disparities: Overall, LGBTQ individuals have lower rates of health insurance coverage. Health problems might occur and persist because of disparities in health care access, an HIV/AIDS diagnosis, and/or other chronic physical or mental health conditions. These disparities need to be corrected so that LGBTQ older adults have access to the health care services they need.
  • Housing Discrimination: It is common for older LGBTQ couples to be victimized by discrimination when looking for rental or senior housing options. Many individuals feel they need to re-closet themselves in senior housing to avoid the discriminating treatment from staff.

Everyone deserves to receive quality care and support during all stages in life. If you are in need of services, or if you know a friend or family member who needs help, then reach out to our team at Windward Life Care. With our membership in the Greater San Diego LGBT Health & Wellness Referral Network, we can help you with advance care planning; healthcare advocacy; and finding the appropriate resources in the area to support your needs.

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