November is particularly special for me personally, as the wife of a veteran, and professionally, as a supporter of caregivers throughout our state. Each November we observe Veterans Day, honoring those men and women who served our country.

Appropriately, November also is National Family Caregivers Month, an opportunity to honor the caregivers who serve their friends and family.

Veterans from World War II, Vietnam and Desert Storm have distinct needs, but one unavoidable trend is the increasing number of elderly veterans, which has risen steadily over the decades.

This year the American Community Survey found 9.3 million American veterans age 65 and older. Indiana alone is home to 10,000 veterans from World War II, and most of the Greatest Generation require care or assistance from someone they love.

Thousands of Hoosier veterans need some form of daily care to live otherwise independent lives in their communities. Some simply need help with transportation or grocery shopping while others require more personal assistance with bathing or taking medications.

While the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and various nonprofits support veteran health care needs, the day-to-day care our veterans receive often is provided voluntarily by a family member.

Caregivers are a lynchpin in our communities. If you take care of anyone you love, helping them to live a safe and comfortable life at home, November is your time for recognition. Thank you.

For others, take time to acknowledge friends and family who look after veterans and other seniors in your life. We all need their dedicated work today and in the future.

In Indiana, family caregivers have additional resources at their fingertips to care for these aging loved ones, veterans or otherwise. Indiana’s 15 Area Agencies on Aging stand with family caregivers and help them find expert opinions, programs and even compensation.

AAAs can recommend excellent facility-based care, but the tools for family caregivers are especially valuable. There are options to build concerted care teams around each caregiver, awarding them a small stipend and giving them and their families access to nurses, care managers and the latest medical technology.

The VA also provides support to caregivers looking after veterans through its Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers program. The program covers those tending to veterans, who sustained injury in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001. All are important options for caring for our nations’ heroes and families throughout the state.

This November, thank the veterans in your community. Thank those who look after them, and thank the thousands of caregivers serving the most fragile of populations.

We owe a debt to each.

Jennifer Trowbridge is the state director of Caregiver Homes of Indiana. Her husband, Bill, is a veteran of the Marine Corps. They are residents of Valparaiso. The opinions are the writer's.

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