• Palliative Care for Veterans

    November 12, 2018 | Blog
  • Indianapolis is home to more than 45,000 military veterans, more than half of whom are over age 55. As Hoosiers Caring for Hoosiers, Paradigm Health is committed to understanding the unique challenges these heroes face as they confront illness and end of life, so we can provide them with quality, personalized palliative care to ease the journey.

    That’s why Paradigm has partnered with We Honor Veterans, a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs focused on empowering community hospice organizations with the knowledge required to care for and honor those who have served.

    Unique Needs of Veterans

    As with any population, each Veteran’s care needs and priorities for navigating end-of-life will vary. That said, Veterans tend to suffer from a unique array of physical and emotional challenges as a result of their service in the armed forces. Understanding more about military culture, as well as specific exposure factors associated with different military branches and military conflicts, is key when working with Veterans and their families to develop an appropriate care plan.

    It’s important to be aware of complicating medical and behavioral issues that may become especially evident as Veterans approach the end of life. For example, depression is twice as common among Veterans as in the general population and often undiagnosed among older Veterans. Veterans are also likely to under-communicate symptoms and discomfort due to a trained-in sense of stoicism or emphasis on “fighting through” hardship.

    Veterans may also be more prone to outbursts of anger and frustration; after a career built on maintaining control and initiating swift action, the lack of control over a progressing illness or loss of independence can be particularly challenging to face. Additionally, veterans often struggle with feelings of spiritual dissonance or isolation related to an inability to reconcile acts of war with moral or religious beliefs.

    Palliative care addresses the whole person and not just their medical condition. Sensitivity to all these elements of the Veteran experience is critical to providing the services and support they require when faced with life-limiting illness or end of life. By partnering with We Honor Veterans, Paradigm Health can better educate our team about the unique experiences and needs of Veterans, establish trust and rapport with those clients, and deliver the best quality of care.

    Benefits of Hospice & Palliative Care

    As a full-service agency delivering home health, hospice, and palliative care, Paradigm offers a broad range of therapies and supportive interventions to help military Veterans live their best lives until the end of life. Patients have access to physical and occupational therapy, music and pet therapy, social services, spiritual care, companionship, grief support, and more.

    Veterans and their families benefit from these services much in the same way as their civilian counterparts; typical outcomes include:

    • Reduced Pain
    • Increased Mobility
    • Reduced Anxiety
    • Improved Social and Emotional Health
    • Enhanced Quality of Life
    • Increased Sense of Peace

    Fortunately, today more veterans than ever are receiving effective hospice and palliative care when and where they need it.

    Honoring Those Who Serve

    Hospice staff may provide the last opportunity for Veterans to feel that their service was not in vain, and that they are appreciated. Paradigm Health is proud to implement many of the We Honor Veterans recommendations for hospice professionals to engage and recognize the Veterans we serve.

    For example, giving veterans an opportunity to tell their stories is an important part of honoring their experiences. Simply thanking Veterans for their service to our country contributes to a sense of validation that is comforting toward end of life. Finally, being patient and a good listener builds trust over time with Veterans, which encourages acceptance of the full range of care options.

    As with any patient, getting to know the personal values and priorities of each individual Veteran is an important part of how we help clients achieve their goals and experience the comfort and peace that will ease their journey.

    Paradigm Health is privileged and honored to provide personalized care for veteran patients who have served our country. If you or a loved one are coping with a serious illness or nearing end of life, contact us to learn more about how we can help.