How to Honor Your Veterans at Your Residential Care Facility
The United States celebrated Veterans Day on November 11. While the holiday is a great time to recognize veterans at your residential care facility, it’s certainly not the only time you can honor them. In fact, you many even want to plan veterans-focused festivities quarterly.
How Many of Your Residents Are Veterans?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49% of all veterans in the U.S. are aged 65 or above. As of 2021, there were 8.1 million veterans aged 65 or above in the U.S. Of these, 5.5 million served during the Vietnam era.
With so many older veterans in the country, there’s a good chance that some of the residents in your adult care facility have served. These residents may have slightly different needs than the general population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, older veterans are less likely to live in poverty than older adults who are not veterans, but they are more likely to have a functional disability.
Talking to Veterans About Their Service
One great way to honor veterans throughout the year is to show interest in their service. Many veterans will enjoy talking about their time in service. Furthermore, research published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research explains that reminiscing about the past is essential for healthy aging and serves many functions, including bonding with others, sharing life lessons, decision-making, and introspection.
However, since military service can include many painful memories, it is important to be sensitive. Listen to the information they voluntarily share and ask questions to encourage them to share more. If they don’t want to discuss a topic, respect their wishes.
Focus on positive experiences and steer away from negative events and divisive political views. According to Military.com, some good conversation starters include asking veterans how long they served, which branch they served in, why they chose that branch, whether they come from a military family, which countries they visited, and which places were their favorite.
Train your team to avoid asking whether they ever killed someone in the military, whether it was hard to be away from their family or transition back to regular life, or whether they agreed with the country’s participation in a conflict.
Four Ways to Honor Your Veteran Residents Throughout the Year
You don’t have to wait until Veterans Day to make your veteran residents feel special and appreciated. Below are four ways to honor veterans at your residential care facility year-round:
- Organize outings. Organize outings to veteran monuments, war memorials, military museums and battlefields.
- Host patriotic events at your facility. Instead of organizing an outing, you could hold a patriotic event at your facility. For instance, this could be a special lunch or dinner with a moment of silence to honor veterans. You could also look for opportunities to involve local youth clubs or schools. For example, the local school band may be able to play patriotic songs. (For more information on the benefits of activities that blend generations, read this article.)
- Provide veterans an opportunity to speak. Host a show and tell to showcase residents’ memorable life experiences and invite your veterans to participate. Gauge their interest and allow them to prepare ahead of time – don’t put them on the spot!
- Decorate. Plan to decorate for Veterans Day in November and a few other times each year. Put up flags, patriotic décor and posters that say, “Thank You Veterans!”
Helping Your Residents Thrive
Honoring the veterans at your facility is one way to support the wellbeing of your residents. Risk management is another. In addition to preventative measures, you should have robust insurance in place in case of a claim.
Tangram provides residential care facility insurance through the Personal Care & Assisted Living Insurance Center (PCALIC). We can help you identify gaps in your RCFE insurance coverage and provide suggestions. Learn more.