Veteran’s Benefits Are Changing! How Are You Affected?

January 5, 2021, a new federal law was enacted that creates change for many veterans. These improvements to the VA system will affect women veterans, surviving spouses, student veterans, homeless veterans, burial benefits, copays, education, retraining, VA institutional changes and other items.  Check with your local VSO for how benefits will change for you and watch our future newsletters for additional information. 

Below is the press release issued by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.  It states the following key provisions under the new law, click here to read the entire press release. 


  • This section would make a number of changes to VA education programs to improve benefits for surviving family members, sunset the outdated Montgomery GI Bill, Rep. Brownley’s provision to increase VA work-study options, Rep. Underwood’s provision to allow STEM scholarships for clinical health training programs, and Rep. Wexton’s provision to allow Yellow Ribbon Program participation by foreign schools. 
  • The bill would also improve oversight of educational programs by State Approving Agencies and codify the Principles of Excellence for schools receiving GI Bill funding to follow building on 2019 Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity hearings and legislation from Rep. Levin.    
  • COVID-19 Pandemic Relief 
  • This section would grant the Secretary authority to continue to pay benefits to veterans impacted by the pandemic and allow them to preserve entitlement to benefits when they are unable to complete courses due to the pandemic. This section includes provisions sponsored by Reps. Cunningham, Levin, Bilirakis, Roe, Takano, and Lamb. 


  • Benefits: These provisions would expand benefits to pre-Vietnam war era advisors, increase special pension for Medal of Honor surviving spouses, protect servicemembers claims for Traumatic Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance, required publication of VA’s Disability Benefit Questionnaires, and mandated research to help Agent Orange-exposed veterans who develop chloracne and porphyria cutanea tarda. Based on legislation introduced by Reps. Cox , Lamb, Kildee, Barr & Luria, and Courtney. 
  • Housing: These provisions would expand eligibility for VA Home Loan Guaranty Program to more members of the National Guard and Reserves, reduce the home loan funding fee for veterans impacted by disasters, and extend home loan funding fee rates through 2030. This includes provisions sponsored by Reps. Cunningham, Mast, and Correa. 
  • Reform collections of overpayments to beneficiaries: Requires new rules for VA collections of debts owed by beneficiaries to avoid unnecessary harm to veterans’ credit ratings, as well as prevent many overpayments from happening due to eligibility changes. This includes provisions sponsored by Reps. Pappas and Bost, and Senator Tester. 
  • Burial Matters: These provisions expand federal aid to counties for veterans’ cemeteries; increases funds for State, county, and tribal veterans’ cemeteries operating and maintenance expenses; and provides urns and commemorative plaques for deceased veterans.  This includes legislation sponsored by Reps. Delgado, Sablan, and Brindisi. 


  • Long Term Care 
    • Enhanced oversight for state veterans’ homes regarding COVID-19 infections, response capacity, and staffing levels. 
    • Waiver of VA requirements for receipt of per diem payments for domiciliary care at state veterans’ homes and modification of eligibility for such payments based on legislation from Rep. Golden.  
    • Expansion of modifications to Veteran Directed Care program. 
  • Native Veterans 
    • Prohibition on collection of a health care copayment by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs from a veteran who is a member of an Indian tribe based on legislation from Rep. Gallego.  
  • Women Veterans 
    • Authority for Secretary of Veterans Affairs to furnish medically necessary transportation for newborn children of certain women veterans based on legislation from Rep. Allred. 
    • Continuation of Women’s Health Transition Training program of Department of Veterans Affairs based on legislation from Rep. Cisneros. 
  • Scheduling and Consult Management 
    • Provisions included establish a process for scheduling internal VA appointments and community care appointments, require VA to provide for an initial audit of appointment scheduling, require VA to review its staffing and training, and require VA to determine whether health care positions involved in the consultation and scheduling process are accurately graded. 
  • Other: VA pilot program for clinical observation by undergraduate students based on legislation from Rep. Kaptur.  

Navy Seal Bill Mulder  

  • Service-connection and COVID-19 
    • Specify the circumstances under which a servicemember, including a member of the National Guard or reserves, is considered service-connected for a disability or death from COVID-19. This includes a provision from Chairmen Takano and Moran and Ranking Members Roe and Tester 
  • Assistance for Homeless Veterans 
    • Improves VA’s ability to award grant and per diem program funding to qualified providers of homelessness assistance services, expand HUD-VASH vouchers to veterans with other than honorable discharges, provide legal services for homeless veterans, and extend the coordination of case management services for homeless veterans based on provisions introduced by Reps. Levin and McCarthy in the Reducing Homelessness Veterans Act. 
  • Retraining Assistance for Veterans
    • The legislation provides VA and Labor Secretaries access to the Federal directory of new hires to assist in veterans’ employment, expand the VET TEC training program for more veterans, extend the Off-Base Transition Training program, and direct VA to provide grants to community organizations for veteran transition assistance programs. This includes provisions introduced by Rep. Levin. 

Deborah Sampson Act – Based on the House Passed Deborah Sampson Act led by Chairwoman Brownley, this title would eliminate barriers to care and services that many women veterans face and would help ensure the VA can address the needs of women veterans– who are more likely to face hardships and go without needed health care. By expanding access to care for women veterans, combatting sexual harassment and assault, increasing cultural competency for all VA staff, and improving data collection, this is the most comprehensive legislative package for women veterans in a decade.  

Servicemember Civil Relief Act 

  • This title would extend Servicemember Civil Relief Act protections to catastrophically injured service members and their spouses, members of the US Coast Guard, and Gold Star Spouses based on legislation from Rep. Bustos. 

Other – This title establishes certain administrative protocols not covered in the other titles and clarifies matters relating to the Chief Financial Officer of the VA. 

  • Rep Rice’s provision would authorize the Secretary to give preference to offerors that employ veterans, in awarding a VA contract for the procurement of goods or services. 
  • Included is a provision from Rep. Rose to extend USERRA protections to National Guardsmen responding to natural disasters, serving on State Active-Duty orders, or during a National Emergency as designated by the President.  
  • Administrative and Other Matters 
    • This would establish an Advisory Committee on Tribal and Indian Veteran Affairs based on legislation from Rep. Haaland. 
    • Extend Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) benefits to National Guardsman that meet certain criteria, extend beneficiary protections for fiduciary misuse of a benefit, make changes to how the VA must respond to standard form 95, require the VA to implement steps addressing “high risk” problems and submit several reports to Congress regarding GAO concerns and recommendations. Includes provisions sponsored by Senator Tester and Reps. Roe, Levin, and Pappas. 
    • Protects veterans from fraud at the hands of their fiduciary by closing a loophole that prevented some veterans from recovering misused funds based on a provision sponsored by Rep. Brownley. 
  • Matters Relating to the Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Veterans Affairs 
  • This subtitle would require the VA CFO to improve internal financial controls and be more involved in the performance of subordinate financial officers. Includes provisions sponsored by Reps. Lee and Bergman. 

Visit Know A Vet? ( for a list of resources for a wide range of issues and resources by zip code. Your local VSO can help connect you to other veteran or civilian organizations. To find your local VSO visit Know A Vet? and put your zip code in the box toward the top of the home page for your local Federal, State and County resources.  

Watch for future articles from Know A Vet? that will discuss details on how this new law will affect current benefits, provide new benefits, and change the structure and procedures of the VA. 

If this information would help someone you know, show them you are thinking of them by forwarding this email.  If you received this email from someone and would like to receive your own FREE newsletter click here to sign up. 


The United States, The House Committee on Veteran Affairs, Chairman Takano, VA Committee Secure Major Provisions for Veterans in End of Year Package. (December 16, 2020) Retrieved from, 

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Financial Help for Seniors

Written by Natalie Schroeder, Andrea Bowling, and Esther Abass
Researched by Esther Abass and Natalie Schroder

I pull on my extra sweater as I look outside and watch the postman walking through the leaves covering the sidewalk.

I open the door before he gets up the steps.

“Hi, Mr. Sylva how are you doing today?” he asks handing me my mail.

“Pretty well, I think we might get snow next week,” I say hoping to draw out the conversation.

We talk for a minute and then he is back crunching leaves under his feet as he continues his route. I flip through the few pieces of mail and see the utility bill and my heart sinks a little. I put the other mail on the table and open the bill to see how much it will be. Before I can unfold the paper my mind starts going through things I can cut out this next month, I can skip some of my medicine and that will help, and maybe if I just have toast for breakfast.

After legal challenges, they found support

My eyes scan down the bill to the total due and my heart skips a beat.

This can’t be right. I start looking at the detail and my usage is the same as last month, but then I look at the rate, it is down 3 cents per hour. What a relief my bill went down by $20.00, that should be enough to cover my medicine.

If you are having money problems, you are not alone. Over 25 million Americans ages 60 and over are facing financial insecurity. As people retire, their income declines and they begin to live primarily off their retirement savings and Social Security income.  Rising housing and health care bills, diminished savings, and job loss in recent years have made older Americans especially vulnerable to financial struggle and falling into debt.

In the past five years, the share of households having debt, as well as the amount of debt, has increased among people ages 65 to 74 years old. For many elderly households that are in debt, the debt payments make up over 40% of their household income, which doesn’t leave much left to live on. Having debt during retirement can also eat up the assets you’ve accumulated during your life such as your earnings, savings, and the equity in your property, as well as affect the timing of your retirement and Social Security claiming.

Housing debt has been major financial problem for people ages 55 or older, with bankruptcies and foreclosures significantly increasing for this group in the past 20 years. Homeowners threatened with foreclosure should seek legal help immediately. You have the legal rights to try and save your home and an attorney can help you navigate the legal process. However, if you are not able to save your home and it is sold at foreclosure auction to cover your debt, in most states, you are entitled to any excess proceeds from the foreclosure sale. So, if you owed $100,000 against your property, and it sold for $180,000, then you are entitled to $80,000! Lenders do not like to give up this money easily, so this is another reason why getting legal help is important.

Possible sources of legal help are the neighborhood legal services office, a bar association panel of pro bono attorneys, or a program providing legal assistance for the elderly. But BE CAREFUL, there are many predatory law firms out there that will charge you large contingency fees in exchange for their services. Do your research on the legal help you seek out. For a list of free legal clinics in VA Facilities across the country, click here. For more steps on how to avoid foreclosure, click here.

High medical expenses are one reason many people over the age of 65 go into debt. Despite Medicare coverage, older adults still pay high out-of-pocket costs for certain medical services. Individuals with functional or cognitive impairment, for example, often require long-term services and supports that Medicare does not cover.  Due to the lack of coverage, people who have higher out-of-pocket spending for medical care are more likely to report that medical care has increased their credit card debt. In addition, many senior citizens are targets of scam and fraud, especially when it comes to health care, medical bills, and prescriptions. Senior Medical Patrol (SMP) helps individuals detect billing errors and fraud when it comes to Medicare. Access this resource by clicking here.

Providing financial support to children and grandchildren has also increased the likelihood of having debt at older ages. Many states offer kinship care payments to blood relatives who care for children in the foster care system and includes grandparents who care for grandchildren. Click here to see a factsheet of information that will help you navigate the child welfare system and click here for a list of kinship care contacts and programs in your state. Click here to see all of your all of state’s available contacts, support groups, public benefits, educational assistance, and relevant laws for grandparents who care for grandchildren.

Predatory lending practices are another reason why the elderly might find themselves struggling financially. Regulations that once reduced access to loans for people whose financial standing put them at risk of defaulting have been removed, and some lenders have taken advantage of this by granting loans at high interest rates to people who can’t afford them. These predatory lenders are known to target the elderly because they have often amassed a lot of equity in their homes and because they usually live on fixed incomes. According to an article published in The Elder Law Journal, “incidents of debt-collection agencies subjecting elderly Americans to harassing and abusive practices have the potential to occur at an alarming rate.” Click here for tips on how to spot and avoid predatory lenders, as well as what to do if you find yourself a victim of predatory lending.

If you are over the age of 65 and facing financial hardship, check out these great resources!

The Nation Council on Aging (NCOA) has a free service called Benefits Checkup that will give you a report on the financial help available in your area. All you have to do is enter your zip code and answer 8 easy questions. This service has over 2,500 federal, private, and state benefit programs that help seniors, ranging from medication, transportation, housing, food, health care, and income assistance. To access this resource, click here.  

There are many different programs that give financial advice and assistance to people over the age of 65. The website,, lists programs that are offered by the federal government, the state, the Area Agency on Aging offices, as well as charities or social service organizations. The exact type of senior citizens resources available near you will vary by state, county, and agency. Some of the programsthat are offered for low-income senior citizens and the elderly include government benefit programs, Medicare and health insurance assistance, financial help, home care, food programs, and grants for paying for medications or other bills. To see resources available to you, click here

There are many government income, health, and care programs for seniors, but finding the right one for you can be tricky. The H.E.L.P website offers a guide to eight different monthly income and healthcare programs to help ease some of the confusion. This website offers more information on programs such as Social Security Retirement, Social Security Disability, and Supplemental Security Income, as well as Nursing Home Medi-Cal, In-Home Supportive Services, and the Veterans Aid & Attendance Pension. To access this guide, click here

Senior Discounts

To see a list of companies that offer different discounts to senior citizens for dining, retail, prescription medications, travel, and more, click here! For a list of discounts for Veterans, click here

Verizon Wireless offers lower phone rate plans nationally for subscribers 55 years of age and older! To learn more, click here

There are many city and state programs that offer lower utility rates to people with low-income, as well as seniors. The National Council on Aging has information on energy assistance programs for low-income seniors and adults with disabilities, such as the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) which provides grants to states that are used to help with energy costs. To learn more about this program, and others like it, click here.  Many states also offer assistance to help low-income households avoid having their utilities shut off. To learn about the programs offered in your area, call the National Energy Assistance Referral Project at 1-866-674-6327 or TTY 1-866-367-6228.  The California CARE program offers a 30-35% discount on electric bills and a 20% discount on natural gas bills for low-income households, to learn more click here. Utility discounts and programs vary by state, so make sure to speak to your utility providers about any discounts you may qualify for. 

Tax Breaks For Seniors

There are also many tax breaks that are offered to people 65 and older, such as bigger standard deductions, a higher tax-filing threshold, property tax breaks, credit for the elderly and disabled, additional IRA deductions, 401(k) catch-up contributions, no early withdrawal penalties, and more! For a list different tax breaks for senior citizens, click here and here. These breaks can vary by state, so consulting with a tax professional is a good idea.  

The Tax Counseling for the Elderly program provides free tax assistance to people ages 60 and older. Every year between January 1st and April 15th, IRS-certified volunteers are available assist with basic tax return preparation and electronic filing. To learn more, click here

The AARP Foundation’s website offers a list of available benefits, by state, for people over the age of 50. To check out the different benefits available in your state, click here. In addition, elderly Veterans may be eligible for a wide range of benefits through the VA, including disability compensation, pension, education and training, health care, home loans, insurance, vocational rehabilitation and employment, and help with funeral expenses. Click here to learn more or contact your local Veterans Service Office (VSO) to find out what benefits you qualify for. Find a local VSO by clicking here! Also, check out the KnowAVet article on discovering your benefits through the VSO

If you found this information helpful, make sure to sign up at KnowAVet for FREE to get notifications for our upcoming articles! 

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Hi, My Name Is Roberta: Expanding Your Social Network as a Senior Citizen

“I am so frustrated that the garbage man did not collect the cans again,” I say into the silence of the house.

“I know! I feel like taking and dumping the garbage at the office!” I continue, felling a little better.

“How can they say the cans are not acceptable they have been picking them up for a year!”, but your voice is only in my head.

I pull out my phone and look at your name in my contact list and wonder, if I hit send would I get your voicemail again or would a stranger answer?

Forty plus years of being best friends, through deployments, getting married, having kids, losing family, crying, laughing, countries between us and now our inside jokes live only in my head.

I hear the garage door open and close and know my husband is heading in from yard work. I put my phone down and wipe the tears away as I feel his breath on the back of my head and smell fresh cut grass as he kisses the top of my head.

“I am sorry you are missing her today,” he says, the weight of his hands providing comfort.

Friends come and go throughout our life and are essential to our well-being as humans. Losing friendships and as relationships change it can be difficult to find new friends because of mobility changes, physical ability changes and general life changes. As a senior it is important to maintain an active social life, read how isolation can affect you at Know A Vet.

How a volunteer group is using the latest tech to help senior citizens overcome loneliness

Even if you know you have a smaller social network than before how do you make new friends as a senior citizen. You may have reservations because you don’t think you will have the same connection as you had before, or you think that people in your age range probably already have a set social circle and it will be difficult to become part of a new social circle, or you have limitations that don’t allow you to participate in activities that you used to. AARP has outlined how to overcome some of these barriers and 15 things that can help you build stronger connections, click here to read their article.

Even in our new world of social distancing, technology has made it possible to do activities through video or locating activity groups that are meeting the social distancing guidelines. is one website that allows you to look at age range and interest to find groups that are meeting in your area, click here to go to their website, as always use caution and report suspicious activity to website administrators. Facebook also has groups by interest so you can share stories, pictures, suggestions, and see local events. Click here for more information from AARP on making new friends.

Making friends out of your age range through mentoring or volunteering opens up a lot more options and can bring a lot of meaning into your life, click here to look at the volunteer positions open at Know A Vet? or click here for eMentor an online mentoring site for personal and professional life.  Also look at local nonprofits in your area for volunteer opportunities. Road Scholar polled 1,000 retirees to learn about their hobbies, click here to read what they found.

Online gaming is a great option to meet people with similar interests and help keep your brain sharp, click here to learn some guidelines of what to do when playing online games and visit one of the largest free game sites that includes multiplayer games and individual games. If you are a member of AARP they also have individual player games, click here to go their game site.

Going outside on nice days for a walk or group exercise class regularly will help you meet the same people and over time friendships will start to develop. Find senior activities to do in your area from the International Council on Active Aging click here or visit Silver Sneakers Program provided by Medicare click here to find classes in your area or join an online class.

Future articles we will tell you some heartwarming stories of vets reaching out to help other vets and how you can get involved.

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I Don’t Need Assisted Living!

Am I getting too old to live by myself? This creeps into my thoughts when things are not as easy as they used to be.  I push it back, my mom lived by herself until she was 90.  I have at least 20 years left.  As I am deep in thought my foot hits something and I am on the floor with the dust bunnies looking back at me from under the couch.  I look around to see what I tripped on and see a cord that has worked its way out from behind the couch.  

Looking at my arms and elbows I see the telltale signs of new bruises next to the yellow fading one. I know I am going to hear it again from my daughter when she sees these.  I wish there was some way to get her to get her off the subject of assisted living.  Sitting down on the couch, I notice the stack of articles she printed off, the top one says “Outside-of-the-Box Assisted Living Communities” the next one is “Alternatives to Assisted Living”. I pull out the second one and start to read, just so I can tell her I read them, but continue since it has some interesting ideas.

Independence is something we treasure as soon as we are old enough to start crawling.  The thought of losing all or some of our independence is a tough pill to swallow.  When a loved one brings it up to us, we may not be ready to accept that it should at least be a conversation.  Nor do we want to admit that we have thought about it from time to time as we have seen our friends move to assisted living.  Looking at the shiny brochures and the fancy websites showing people smiling and socializing like they have found paradise is not the reality when you visit.  All the staff may not be friendly, some of the residents will be unpleasant, you will feel as if you must answer to the staff, and worst of all you have lost your home.

Alternatives to Assisted Living

The traditional assisted living center is not your only option.  Other options include:

  • Aging in place and have the help come to your house, look at to find individual assistance.
  • Assisted living or a Retirement community that is interest specific, such as outdoor, arts, etc.,  Marketwatch article has additional information.
  • Retirement centers on college campuses where you have access to classes, meals, common areas and are usually within walking distance to other amenities.  The Senior List compares these to assisted living center, click here to read their article.
  • Co-Housing where the houses all share a common living or outdoor space, and the homeowners all help each other. Click here to find a Co-Housing Community in your area.
  • Group Homes, offer live in assistance, home cooked meals and other family like qualities, click here to read more from AARP.

Find the right level of care for you by visiting AARP and use their tool to look for resources in your area. Assisted living can be a valuable option when you find one that fits your requirements, if this is the option that you choose, read this article from A Place for Mom, Finding the Right Assisted Living Community: 50 Essential Questions to Ask.

For Vets, An Alternative To Nursing Homes

The VA also has specific resources related to aging in place, assisted living, and long-term nursing care, to read their guide click here. Then once you have read their guide schedule an appointment with your local Veteran Service Office (VSO), and they can help find the right solution or combination of solutions for you. To find your local VSO office go to Know A Vet? and put your zip code in the box toward the top of the home page.[NL1] 

Looking to change your living situation, if it’s getting additional help or a move, there is always a financial aspect.  Additional cost creates additional stress, review Know A Vet? page on aging for help with emotional aspects of aging and where to get help. The VA guide has a lot of information on what they cover, but there are civilian resources that can help, click here, to find resources for your situation.  

In Home Care vs Assisted Living and Nursing Homes – Mind and Mobility – The Better Alternative

Whether it’s getting help in your home, applying for financial help or moving to a community always make sure to check reviews and third-party sources before giving any personal information.  Watch for future articles from Know A Vet? for additional information on how to identify scams, how to verify a company or person to avoid a scam, and what information you should provide.

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Act II: Starting A New Career After Retirement

Pulling on my khaki pants, I realize, it has been 48 years since I have been this nervous and excited about starting a new job. I know I should not be this nervous, this is a part time job, and my previous career was a lot more complicated and stressful, I worry if I will be able to keep up with people that are half my age.

I place my hands on the dresser, look at myself in the mirror and tell myself, “This is the new you. Help people find the best options for their house. You are great at decorating. You do not have to run the whole company. This job will allow me to spend more time with the Grandkids.”

Pulling into the parking lot I see the other employees walking through the parking lot in small groups. I only see a couple people that are close to my age. I grab my lunch bag and purse, thrust open the door and step into my new adventure.

The current work environment has provided more options and flexibility in the workplace, including flexible schedules, remote work, micro jobs and contract work. These changes allow people to fit work into how they want their lives structured. Retirement gives people the opportunity to work a part time job either to help supplement their retirement, pursue a passion, or help the community.

According to American Working Conditions Survey (AWCS) 46% of people 50 and older would start work again with the right opportunity. Finding what you want to do and where you want to do it is the biggest hurdle. Some options to look at are listed in this article in U.S. News, click here to read about some of the popular careers seniors are doing. When looking at what job is right for you, think about your experience and what tasks you excel at. For example, if you love helping people as an HR specialist, consider becoming a career counselor or HR consultant for small businesses. These new jobs would allow you to do what you love but control your schedule and hours you work. If you enjoy construction work but don’t want to commit to the long hours, look for micro jobs on Task Rabbit, where you can put furniture together or do some light handyman work.  Love teaching, there are many tutoring jobs online that you do not have to leave your house for.  You can use these same platforms if you want to make extra money while pursuing a hobby or passion.

The Best Flex Jobs For Retirees | CNBC

When switching careers there will always be some skills and talents that are transferrable. If you worked as a retail manager but now you want to teach guitar lessons, you have experience with a wide range of people and some knowledge on how to run your own business. talks about how to get a job when you are over 50 and has additional resources to help make the transition smoother, click here to read their article.

Once you know what you want to do and where, now you can start your job hunt. Reach out to your network both professional and personal and let people know you are looking for the right position or that you are going to start your own business. Visit Know A Vet? Employment page to get specific job information for veterans. Online job boards such as AARP Job Board, Zip Recruiter, Indeed, Flex Jobs, LinkedIn, or Industry Specific Job Boards can be an excellent source for jobs but also information about job hunting. Before submitting your resume read through AARP’s tips on how to write a resume as a Veteran, click here.  

Once you have the interview with the company, research and have your questions ready so you are prepared and confident for the interview. wrote an article to help guide people over 50 with the interview process, click here.

9 Fun Part-Time Jobs for Retirees That Anyone Can Do

Current trends are showing that companies are hiring more workers over 50, since companies are seeing higher engagement, less errors and lower turnover rate, read additional trends in this article from, click here.

Watch for future articles from Know A Vet? for additional information on starting your own business as a veteran.

Visit Know A Vet? for a list of resources for a wide range of issues and resources by zip code. Your local VSO can help connect you to other veteran or civilian organizations. To find your local VSO visit Know A Vet? and put your zip code in the box toward the top of the home page for your local Federal, State and County resources.

If this information would help someone you know, show them you are thinking of them by forwarding this email.  If you received this email from someone and would like to receive your own FREE newsletter click here to sign up.

Where Can Seniors Find Jobs?
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Battle of Things

The familiar red numbers of the bedside clock show 5:15am, I lie still for a moment and see if I have any new pain today. Nope no new pain, knee still hurts, back still aches, shoulder is stiff, looks like I am ready for battle. I hear the sheets rustle as I inch my way out of bed and to the bathroom.  I lean forward to look at myself in the mirror the pain in my back reminds me, that I should take my medicine.  This is an easy win since I have the pharmacist put on the reversible caps.

Time to put my hearing aid in. I wiggle it in, loop it over my ear, and …. nothing. Dang thing! I take it out and know it’s time for new batteries, one point for the Things. I open the case take out the batteries and the battery falls to the bathroom rug. The metal winks up at me as I lean slowly over, nope, my back won’t make it this time, the Things are putting up a fight today. I walk down the hall and get the vacuum with the wand. Walk back to the bathroom, check the nylon stretched over the end and that the rubberbands are secure and turn it on. The vacuum sucks up the battery onto the nylon and I easily pick it off. I am one battle ahead of the Things. A win under my belt, I am feeling more confident as I finish getting ready for the day.

The smell of coffee greets me as I enter the kitchen, I get the chipped mug that sat on my desk for many years at the office. I open the fridge, pick up the creamer, and realize this is a new creamer, the Things are showing up today in full force. The miscellaneous items rattle as I open the junk drawer and pull out the needle nose pliers. I feel the plastic ring compress as I squeeze the pliers and pull off the top on the creamer. Score one for me!

Before my morning walk with friends, I know I need to put on my compression socks.  I know that this will be a battle that I can win.  I am glad that I purchased the aid to get my compression socks on. I sit in the easy chair to slide them on.  The Things do not have a chance today!

After my morning walk, I rest awhile, knowing I want to get the bathroom clean before the Canasta Club comes over this evening. After getting my energy back up, I head down the hall to the guest bathroom and start to clean. I open the shower curtain look at the bathtub and shut the curtain. There is no way that I am going to be able to clean this today. The Things score a point.

Feeling defeated I go to start setting out the snacks for Canasta Club. I look at the Salsa and try to open it, it doesn’t budge. I get the rubber gloves from under the sink pull them on and “POP” the sweet sound of success as the lid comes off.

Just as I finish getting the cups out, I hear the doorbell ring the first of the Canasta Club is here.

We start the first hand, a few ice cube trays sitting in front of a couple of us to hold our cards since our fingers do not work as well as they used to. Between hands Kelly gets up to go the bathroom.

“Do not look at the bathtub, it won today,” I say as joke, inside I cringe hoping they understand.

Conversation turns to how hard it is to clean some things as we wait for Kelly.

“I understand how hard it is to clean the tub, I spray bathroom cleaner in my tub and then take the broom and use that to scrub it and then rinse it out. That has saved my knees and back,” Kelly says sitting back down.

There are a lot of inventions and “hacks” (using everyday objects in an unusual way) that can make life easier. Below are some additional articles that can help in everyday life.

Looking for assistance in finding a job or making a career change as Senior? These topics will be covered in future issues of Know A Vet.

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Grandkid Day: How to be Successful When Providing Childcare to Grandchildren

“Papa, wake up!” my grandson says jumping into my lap.

I awake with a start and my heart smiles seeing him.

“Hi, little guy! What are we going to do today?” I ask him, knowing I will be exhausted by the time dinner comes around.

I smell his sweet cereal breathe, as he starts talking about all his toys and other characters. I catch the tired look on my son’s face knowing he is off to another long day at work. I wish there was more I could do but watching my little guy a couple days a week is my limit. 

“Are you sure you are up to this today?” my son asks, picking at the asphalt on his shirt with his broken fingernail.

“Of course! I love my little guy days!” I say, reaching for my leg to strap it on.

Between the sound of his zipper going up and down little guy asks “Papa, should I get the outside jar or inside jar today?”

“Well little guy, I think we can pick an activity from the outside jar today.”

Walking my son to the door I see the envelope lying on the entryway table with the money he can afford this month.  We wave goodbye and start our fun filled little guy and papa day.

Family relationships can be difficult to navigate and stepping into the role of caregiving of grandkids can add new twists to these relationships.  Balancing wanting to help and keeping stress levels down is hard to do.

One way to avoid additional stress is to talk about basic rules, where will you watch the kid(s), meals, medications you can give, acceptable places to visit, car seats, sleep, electronics, how much you will be paid if any, the role you will play with schooling, and other day to day activities. The website Kid’s Health goes into detail on some of these topics. Click here to read their article.

Once the ground rules are set this will give you and the parents peace of mind you are on the same page. Now it is time to plan and get the children’s help on activities you can do.

Creating a jar or notebook for these ideas helps to keep them organized. Many of these activities cost little to no money, for example making a blanket fort, going on an adventure walk, watching an old movie, let them help with a project around the house, baking, find grandparent days at local museums and zoos, or writing a book or comic book are a few ideas. Huffington Post listed out 101 activities for grandparents to do with grandkids, click here to see the list.

Throughout the day you can send the parents a few pictures, this will keep them connected to their kids and at the same time provide updates on where and how things are going. If an issue should come up these should be discussed and resolved outside of normal family time. Schedule time to check in with your grandchildren’s parents, talk about how things are going, changes that either would like to see, and to show appreciation to each other. This will help in creating and maintaining healthy relationships, click here to read more about family relationships. 

Have a backup plan, if there is a day that you are not up for being a caregiver be open and honest with the parents. Alternatives that can help on these days is having a drop-in day care identified, having one of your trusted friends come help and babysit as a team, asking another family member to be a backup, or just having a very low-key day watching movies.

Childcare is expensive and even in the best times can cause families to struggle financially. There is assistance available for childcare both in the civilian world and as a Veteran. For additional resources to help pay for childcare visit the Know A Vet website.

Future issues we will cover other ways you can help your family by making sure everyone is prepared in case of emergency!

Visit Know A Vet for a list of resources for a wide range of issues and resources by zip code. 

If this information would help someone you know, show them you are thinking of them by forwarding this email.  If you received this email from someone and would like to receive your own free copy, click here.


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