Veterans account for some of the bravest people in our nation. They have risked their lives to ensure the quality of our liberty at home and overseas. Many of them have even sacrificed their minds and their bodies in service of our nation, and it is for this very reason that accessible healthcare technology needs to be readily available to all veterans returning with any number of disabilities or challenges, both physical and mental.
The healthcare industry is making leaps and strides to increase patient access to healthcare even when they are far from the hospital. Engineering companies have been working on robotics to make mobility easier for individuals who have lost the ability to walk on their own. Even social workers are doing their part to better the lives of veterans by offering special programs for vets and their families to ensure they are receiving proper treatment.
This trend in healthcare innovation could one day mean more affordable, more accessible and more quality treatment for veterans who have returned from service with life-altering changes.
Accessible home design, especially for the immobile, has truly improved in the last few years as demand for smarter homes rises. Veterans are given access to home mortgages through the VA which help to purchase homes after being overseas or in service for the last several years. These homes can be renovated or built to include more accessible and modern designs.
There are several different elements to consider when building an age-in-place home for a veteran. For example, visitability, adaptability, accessibility, and universality. Visitability means your home has been designed so anyone can come to visit. This means you have a ramp or a flat entrance to the home, a low door frame so wheelchairs can get through, and well-lit pathways.
Adaptability means the home can easily accommodate change should that become necessary. Examples of this kind of technology for veterans might be cupboards and counters that are easily removable to make room underneath for wheelchairs to pull in or to lower cupboards for access to higher shelves.
Accessibility means that the home meets the basic requirements of someone living with a disability. A home that is accessible might feature wide hallways, support bars, and open concept floor plans.
Universality is a somewhat more modern element. It basically means that the home is equipped with technology that is both remote and user friendly. For example, a home equipped with remote lights that can be turned on before you enter, or security systems that alert when a homeowner is in distress. The Wheel Pad is an example of a highly accessible home for someone living with a disability.
Mobility can often be the most challenging aspect of living with a disability. Many veterans return from service missing limbs and suddenly find themselves unable to access some of the most basic places they once visited frequently like the lighthouse around the corner or the park down the street.
In a world where travel and mobility are highly valued, it is important to consider mobility for people with disabilities. Luckily for some, smart wheelchairs are becoming more accessible and more affordable. The leaps and bounds they have made with this technology are incredible.
Smart wheelchairs can now come equipped with automatic driver assistance, GPS mapping, satellite capabilities for radio and television and internet hot spots. The most advanced smart wheelchairs come equipped with the latest healthcare technology giving people with a disability access to their nurses and doctors remotely. This means patients now have alarms set for taking medication, emergency responses during distress, and voice-activation to speak with someone directly.
Mobility has also been expanding into home design. Homes are now being built to more easily accommodate individuals in wheelchairs and renovations are more common as people learn more tips to making their homes wheelchair friendly.
There have been tremendous developments in Telehealth technology with the new White House administration being as pro-veteran as they are. Recently Trump unveiled an expansion to the current Telehealth industry to expand service to veterans to make finding the right care more accessible.
Veterans understand the frustration of having to seek care from multiple different facilities in multiple locations but Telehealth allows veterans to connect with providers remotely and seek the same treatment. Veterans no longer have to jump through hoops to seek care, they can find it with a simple conversation.
Accessibility for veterans is only improving as time goes on and we begin to appreciate their contributions to our nation more and more. Healthcare doesn’t have to be a taboo topic for former soldiers, it can be a conversation of light-hearted empathy and enjoyment as long as the healthcare industry continues to plan for the safety and convenience of our bravest citizens.