As I reflect on Memorial Day and all those who have bravely put their lives on the line for our freedom, I think of the veterans who reside in our facilities, and how we shouldn’t consider them veterans just one day a year.

We may not know who has served our country, but a hint might be — at least for the men — if they are over 80 and have a tattoo, they probably served in our military. We might not have any idea what the tattoo used to be due to its morphing, but you know it is a tattoo.

If you see that tattoo, go ahead and ask them if they served in the military. Let them talk about their experience and praise them for their sacrifices.

Also, after identifying any veterans, you might want to think about customizing some activities for them. I have a friend who used to be a director of nursing service at a large veterans home. They invested in a Wii fit sports system so that these men — it was a 100% male facility — could be once again active, with bowling, golfing, fishing, etc. And the cool part was that their cognition improved as well due to these “manly” games and competitions.

I read about one facility that takes their veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit memorials dedicated to honor the service veterans with the help of the Honor Flight Network. While there, these men and women are applauded by visitors and honored for their service.

I read about another facility that has separate activities for veterans. They have special speakers, go to car shows, watch movies they vote on and have group discussions weekly, etc.

With a little creative thinking, we can “actively” honor these men and women who specially deserve the attention and respect given to those who give so much.

Actually, I would love to start a game show called “Name That Tattoo.” But only the veterans can play it!

Just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, Senior Director of Clinical Innovation and Education for Mission Health Communities, LLC and an APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.