Amazingly, almost 20 percent of all people are military veterans. Forty-two percent of men who are age 65 and older are veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs statistics show that close to one-third of veterans live with disabilities.

In the senior care world, “living with a disability,” describes a person living with an inability to manage one or more “activities of daily living.”

The best way to understand this is to think of the things we need to do when we first wake up in the morning. We have to come to a standing position from our bed and get to the bathroom; be able to bathe and dress ourselves and prepare breakfast. These are things able-bodied people take for granted, but can pose minor or impossible degrees of difficulty for people “living with a disability.”

There can be more complex care needs, such as medication management and wound care. One veteran client previously served by The Lincoln Home’s One2One Home Care was a quadriplegic veteran who was mostly cared for by her veteran husband, with assistance from in-home caregivers.

In other words, veteran care needs of any age can be incredibly challenging and complex. And sometimes the care needs are as simple as some help with household chores. The services available for veterans living with disabilities can be in-home care assistance; assisted living residential care; nursing home care; and memory loss care.

The Lincoln Home’s One2One Home Care has become a significant provider of in-home care services in the Midcoast and reaching into Augusta and Waterville and Cumberland County. Manager Valerie Lovelace is herself a Navy veteran, and takes great pride in expanding the services to our local veterans.

The AARP has recently released a state-by-state report on long term services and supports. The report measures 25 different Quality of Care factors, with state-by-state rankings, and showing how the care factors in each state have either improved or declined.

The clearly stated intent of the AARP is to exert political influence to improve the Quality of Care for veterans throughout our country. Maine is ranked 18th overall in the country relative to other states. Our neighboring states of New Hampshire ranked 16th; Massachusetts at 11th; and Vermont is ranked third in the country.

It’s nice to know that Maine is ranked somewhere above the median in our country, however, that number does not tell the entire story. There is room for improvement in some areas, while other factors are difficult to improve upon because we are such a rural state.

As we say so often, everything that makes Maine such a beautiful place to live also makes it a challenge to provide healthcare. For example, the problem Valerie Lovelace and her staff in One2One Home Care face every day is the logistics of providing a caregiver to a veteran living in a very rural location, down on a peninsula, and possibly in terrible weather. It’s not always easy to do!

If you or someone you know is a veteran aged 65 or older and you’re having a difficult time managing at home, you may qualify for a few hours per week of assistance in your home. You’d be surprised at just how helpful a little assistance can be.

The best way for Maine veterans to inquire about in-home care assistance is to have a conversation with your physician at Togus VA Medical Center. Your physician will certify your need if you qualify, and make the referral to their social service department.

A final thought … it is common for veterans to not want to ask for help. We hope that you will not stay stuck in that trap, and be willing to start a conversation with your doctor that can provide you with some beneficial assistance.

Jill Wallace is the owner and director of Elm Street Assisted Living in Topsham. Steve Raymond is director of community outreach at the Lincoln Home in Newcastle, and the producer and host of the television show “Spotlight on Seniors.”