On November 11, 2022, the United States will celebrate Veterans Day and honor the more than 18 million men and women who served in the nation’s military. The sacrifices they made to protect our nation’s freedoms should never be forgotten, yet sometimes, as veterans grow older, many fail to celebrate their contributions.
Ways to Celebrate Veterans in Nursing Homes
Veterans make up a significant portion of the millions of residents in long-term care facilities and nursing homes across the nation. That is why this year, we are sharing some ways people can celebrate veterans in nursing homes. Learn about some ways you can do your part to ensure their sacrifices and stories are not forgotten.
Coordinate Community Programming
Creating ways for veterans to share their stories with younger generations can be a great way to honor their sacrifices. You can work with local schools to coordinate visitation days to nearby nursing homes. This allows young students to not only connect with their elders but also provides valuable socializing opportunities for nursing home residents.
Host a Veterans Day Parade or Celebration at the Facility
Some nursing homes might not have the staffing available to coordinate community events. If you are able, you can volunteer to help lead a Veterans Day parade or other related celebration. During the special event, you can encourage veterans to share their stories with their fellow residents. Community events within facilities can also contribute to greater feelings of belonging and contentment.
Send Cards to Veterans
Sometimes you might not be able to visit a nursing home in person, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic still spreading infection. To still show veterans that you remember and honor them on Veterans Day, you can send hand-written letters to veterans at local nursing homes. Including patriotic pictures of you and your family might also help veteran residents feel that their service made a difference in your life.
Visit and Socialize with Residents Frequently
Sometimes living in a nursing home can be quite isolating. Even one visitor can have a tremendous impact on a resident’s well-being. Coordinating regular visits at nursing homes can be a great way to get to know the veterans who might be residing there. While visiting, you may also want to ask some questions about their service to help them feel comfortable sharing their story.
Some questions you might ask veterans include:
- What motivated you to join the military?
- What is one thing not a lot of people know about your service?
- Where were you stationed throughout your service? Do you have a favorite location?
Additionally, developing regular visits can increase residents’ trust, further encouraging them to share even more of their stories.
Volunteer at the Facility and Help Decorate for Veterans Day
Similar to coordinating a Veterans Day special event, simply volunteering with a nursing home to help decorate the facility with flags and other patriotic decorations can be a great way to get involved. You could even put up a veterans bulletin board where residents can post pictures or stories of their service.
Statistics for Veterans in Nursing Homes
These simple ways can help veterans feel supported, valued, and celebrated. In fact these efforts to support veterans will be incredibly important to their well-being for years to come.
This is because the number of veterans needing long-term care is expected to increase exponentially in the next few years. With even more residents in nursing homes and the growing crisis of understaffing, even more innocent people could suffer nursing home abuse and neglect. It is estimated that nearly 1 out of 3 nursing homes in the U.S. has been issued citations for abuse.
Veterans are unfortunately not exempt from experiencing abuse while residing in long-term care facilities. They are often left without family or proper support systems. Combined with a common military culture of trying to be strong, many will not speak up about pain or mistreatment. This is why volunteering and staying involved with veterans in nursing homes is so crucial.
What Causes Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse and neglect have several causes, but one of the leading current causes is understaffing. Research indicates that as many as 95% of nursing facilities in the U.S. are understaffed.
Other causes of nursing home abuse include:
- Employee burnout
- Facility mismanagement
- Lack of supervision and training
- Poor staff pay
Effects of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse and neglect are frequently unreported. Because of this, residents often suffer in silence, which leads to further isolation and degradation of their quality of life. Unreported abuse may also cause residents to experience depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.
In more severe cases of abuse, physical injuries may go untreated if they are not promptly reported. This can lead to infection, bedsores, and repeated injury — which could result in serious complications and even wrongful death.
Help for Veterans and Victims of Abuse in Nursing Homes
Celebrating Veterans Day with veterans living in nursing homes may be an important factor in the prevention of nursing home abuse. With frequent socialization and trust-building, support systems can be reforged so veterans can get the care they rightfully deserve.
If you witness abuse or neglect at a nursing home, please report it immediately so the abuse does not continue. Additionally, victims and their family members may seek legal help to hold abusers accountable.
Veterans made tremendous sacrifices in serving our country. Now it is our responsibility to ensure they live with dignity and honor this Veterans Day.