Planning for Eldercare

According to Department of Veterans Affairs census estimates, there are approximately 13 million veterans and their single surviving spouses age 65 and older. Comparing this to a total of 41 million Americans 65 and older, veterans and their single surviving spouses represent about 1/3 of the senior population. According to VA about 42% of all veterans are 65 and older. This percentage will continue to grow as the bulk of the Vietnam veterans – the largest cohort – are still younger than age 65.

Senior veterans are typically in receipt of four cash income programs from VA. Two of these programs – Pension and Death Pension – are paid to veterans and their surviving spouses who are non-service-connected disabled. The other two of these programs – Compensation and DIC – are paid to veterans or surviving spouses due to disability or death from service connection. These programs are covered in detail in this book. For now let’s look at some statistics.

The table below represents the number of beneficiaries of these four benefit types of income that VA intends on paying in 2013. We had to interpolate the information to determine the numbers in the two age brackets in the table. This was based on how many cases are expected in different “periods of war” age groups. The numbers in each age bracket may not be totally accurate but they represent a good guess. From the table, VA estimates handling about 4,501,200 cases in 2013, and of those about 38% or 1,693,200 beneficiaries are age 65 and older. It is important to note that of those 1.7 million beneficiaries 65 and older, only about 28% or 517,900 beneficiaries will be receiving Pension or Death Pension. Also note that the number of surviving spouses receiving DIC is about 20% more than those receiving Death Pension.

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Rest easy – we will help you tackle insomnia

When adequate sleep becomes a nightly struggle it drains energy and can drastically affect a person’s health, mood and daily functioning.

Sleep deprivation is common among family caregivers because of the physical and emotional stress of caring for another, often while maintaining the responsibilities of children, work and home.

People who have difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep may be dealing with the sleep disorder called insomnia.

Symptoms of insomnia also can include waking up too early in the morning or feeling unrefreshed upon waking. Insomnia is classified as either short-term or chronic when it lasts at least three nights a week for a month or longer.

Some one in 10 Brits are affected by insomnia each year, but the following steps can help safeguard against erratic sleep:

  • Discuss recurrent sleep problems with your doctor. Certain medical conditions such as chronic pain, breathing difficulties, frequent urination, gastro-esophageal reflux disease and an overactive thyroid can lead to insomnia. Special sleep testing and sleep aids can help alleviate underlying causes of insomnia.
  • Adjust caffeine and energy drink consumption. Caffeine is a major culprit in disrupting sleep. To regain regular sleep, it helps to eliminate caffeine completely or avoid caffeine consumption after 2pm.
  • Incorporate exercise into every day. Research shows that exercise during the day promotes better sleep at night. Even a brief 10-minute walk outside or climbing stairs inside can improve nightly rest.
  • Unwind tight muscles before sleep with a warm bath or shower and gentle upper-body stretches or yoga.
  • Reduce environmental factors like light, noise and extreme temperatures that interfere with sleep.
  • Regularly ask for help from others. Enlisting other family members, friends and home carers like Right at Home to help with meals, chores and health needs reduces stress and helps you on the path to a restful sleep.

Tips on keeping warm this winter – elderly are most at risk

How To Prepare Your Home For Cold Weather

Even before calendars across the country were flipped to December, the UK has been gripped by a cold snap. Roads, cars and roofs have been left covered in a blanket of ice and the threat of the first winter snow is looming ever closer as temperatures have plummeted dramatically.

The cold weather can have a huge impact on health, especially when it comes to the elderly. Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) at the end of November showed that 24,000 people died last winter from cold-related illnesses. With older people more susceptible to hypothermia and strokes, some 21,700 of these deaths were among those falling into the over 65 age category.

Infants are also at risk of contracting illnesses from the cold weather; so it is critical for families and home carers to know how to keep people warm and safe during the coldest time of the year.

With headlines reporting that Britain could be facing its coldest winter for a century, the current cold snap is just a taste of what’s to come. It is therefore essential that families do everything they can to stay warm.

Heating System

It can prove invaluable to have the heating system checked over by a service technician. In addition to ensuring you are kept warm indoors, despite the plunging temperatures, any obstacle to heating vents will be removed so that air can flow freely and checks will be made for any dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide.

Air Leaks

Windows and doors tend to leak air unless they are properly insulated which can result in a chilly home and an expensive heating bill. It may be worth having draft excluders installed to keep the cold outside, where it belongs.

Plumbing System 

Water supplies can freeze quickly in extremely cold temperatures. This not only leaves you without water for heating, cooking and bathing but can also result in burst pipes – which can be very expensive to repair. Insulating any water lines that run along the exterior of your home can help to prevent this problem.


If you intend to use a fireplace or wood stove for heating this winter, remember to have your chimney or flue inspected. It may be an idea to install a smoke and carbon monoxide detector near the area which will be heated and test it on a monthly basis.

Winter Survival Kit

Equipping your home with a ‘survival kit’ could prove incredibly helpful if the winter weather stops you from being able to leave your house. Food, water, medicines, an electric heater, spare blankets and matches are just a few of the items you should consider when collecting supplies.

If you struggle with mobility then it is wise to ensure that you have the most important household items at a reachable arm’s length.  It is important to make sure that you access all parts of your home freely and if you use a stairlift then it is good advice to have a back-up mobility aid or a mode of contact in case of emergency.