STATESVILLE, N.C., Nov. 17, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- November is National Caregivers month and Purple Heart Homes adaptations made to Veterans' homes helps make life easier for caregivers by creating safer barrier free environments both inside and out.
According to a March, 2014 Rand study entitled 'Hidden Heroes: America's Military Caregivers', there are 5.5 million caregivers across the US. Of that, 1.1 million care for Veterans that served in Afghanistan and Iraq. The remaining 4.4 million are caring for WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm or those that were injured during training missions.
Staff Sergeant Cory Collins, two-time Purple Heart Recipient, was the sole survivor of an IED explosion on November 2, 2005 that left him with 30 broken bones in his body. His hip is held together with what his wife Paula calls two lag bolts. He suffers from PTSD, TBI and had his left leg amputated above the knee.
Paula Collins says getting Cory up each morning is her biggest challenge because he is on 10 different pain medications.
Purple Heart Homes adapted the Collins home making doorways wider, a bathroom handicap accessible, installed hardwood floors throughout the first floor, replaced all the round door knobs with lever handles and built a handicap ramp and deck.
"Before the home was handicap accessible Cory would watch TV. He would skin his knuckles in narrow doorways, and helping him get into a bathroom was a major issue," said Paula Collins. "The adaptations made to our home has given me time so I can take an hour for myself to workout at a gym, because I know he can move safely throughout the house with ease," Collins added.
Vietnam Veteran Joe Recupero suffers from severe Parkinson's disease as a result of exposure to Agent Orange. Recupero had to climb 12 steps from his driveway to get into his home. His existing bathroom floor was rotting out. Getting in and out of the tub shower with no grab bars was dangerous and difficult.
Debbie Fiori, Joe's caregiver and significant person in his life said, "when Purple Heart Homes moved the driveway and built a ramp to the front door it made it easier for both Joe and me."
Purple Heart Homes built an addition on to Recupero's home so he could have a handicap accessible bathroom, higher toilet seat and grab bars. Debbie Fiori said, "I have been a nurse for 38 years and the adaptations made to Joe's home enables me to continue to work and have peace of mind that he can move about safely in the home. His Parkinson's has not advanced that he needs his wheelchair, but when he does he will have no problem going from room to room and using the bathroom, which eases my future caregiving responsibilities."
Caregivers of Veterans experience loss of employment, thus loss of needed income when care is given 24/7. They suffer from emotional and physical stresses. According to the Rand study, military caregivers consistently experience more serious health issues, have greater strains in family relationships and more workplace problems than non-caregivers, and post 9/11 military caregivers fare worst in these areas.
"We have expanded our Veterans Aging in Place program to be able to help more Veterans and their caregivers with the creation of chapters to do less costly projects that make a world of difference – like a simple ramp, wider doorways, grab bars, lever door handles and handicap accessible bathrooms," said John Gallina, Executive Director of Purple Heart Homes. The majority of applications received for needed renovations come from Veteran Caregivers.
All needed adaptations for approved older Veterans are done at no cost to the Veteran or family thanks to generous support received from foundations, in-kind donations of materials and generous support from communities and individual donations.
Purple Heart Homes salutes all caregivers providing comfort, support and daily assistance to our Veterans. They work quietly behind the scenes and deserve not only our support, but also our entire nation.
To learn more about Purple Heart Homes Aging in Place program, to submit an application, to form a chapter and to make a donation see: www.phhusa.org.
Vicki Thomas, Purple Heart Homes
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SOURCE Purple Heart Homes