Are There Senior Care Benefits for Veterans?

Are There Senior Care Benefits for Veterans?

Dear Donna:

My great uncle lives alone in northern Michigan. Since his wife passed away, he’s been getting increasingly isolated. While I visit as often as possible, my home is almost three hours away. He’s finally decided he would be better off in a senior living community. We are going to start searching for potential options with a goal of moving in the spring.

A colleague told me his father qualified for special financial assistance because he is a veteran like my uncle. How can I learn more about this program? My uncle has always been careful with his money, but he could benefit from a little help paying for care.

Best,

Nicole

Veterans Benefits for Senior Care

Dear Nicole:
Thank you for asking this question! It provides me with an opportunity to talk about one of my favorite programs. Like you, many veterans and their families aren’t aware of it. Commonly referred to as the Aid and Attendance benefit, it was created to ensure that those who served our nation and their surviving spouses receive the care they need.

Your uncle must meet certain eligibility criteria, including having served 90 days of active-duty service. At least one day of that service must have been during a recognized period of war.

Other eligibility requirements veterans such as your uncle must meet include:

  • Age or disability: To receive this benefit, a veteran must be at least 65 years old or be totally and permanently disabled. Seniors who live in a nursing home or receive skilled nursing care may be eligible, as can veterans who are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
  • Financial criteria: There are both income and asset thresholds for veterans applying for the Aid and Attendance benefit. The Veterans Administration will look at the veteran’s overall net worth when determining eligibility.
  • Physical condition: The veteran and/or their surviving spouse must also meet one of these conditions to be eligible:
    • Be bedridden
    • Live in a nursing home due to mental or physical limitations
    • Be blind or nearly blind
    • Require the aid of another person to perform everyday living tasks (e.g., dressing, bathing, feeding, toileting)

While families might think the process is too complicated, it’s important to know it can make a significant difference to veterans who qualify. The financial rewards change every year or two, but can range from $14,761 a year for a surviving spouse to $27,194 for a veteran with a spouse or child.

You can learn more by visiting the Pension Benefits area of the US Department of Veterans Affairs online. The staff at Heritage Senior Communities will also be happy to help answer questions. Call the community nearest you today!

Best of luck in your search, Nicole!

Kind regards,

Donna

Resources

Resources

Local, State and National Organizations Helpful resources for the aging with direct access to organization websites. General Resources on Aging Elder Law of Michigan Free help to solve problems that arise in retirement or after the age of 60. Elder Law explains...
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Getting the Right Type of Care After a Hospital Discharge

Getting the Right Type of Care After a Hospital Discharge

When your senior loved one is discharged from a Michigan hospital, they may have a long road to recovery ahead. Depending on the illness, injury or treatment, it could take anywhere from a few weeks to several months before your aging parent has regained their independence.

In order to heal, they will not only need assistance with healthcare, but also with everyday tasks like bathing, dressing and meal preparation. Your loved one may get this care temporarily in a rehabilitation center, but will also need extra help in their home or in a respite care at an assisted-living community

Being involved in their care before and after discharge can help ensure that they recuperate and return to their daily routine as soon as possible.

The first step

Recovery from a hospital occurs in several stages. If your aging parent is doing well, the hospital may discharge them directly into home care, where family will be responsible for supervising their recovery. Because this situation is not always best for the senior, many are transferred to a short-term rehabilitation center, where they can receive 24-hour skilled nursing services, as well physical, speech and occupational therapy. If the senior meets the criteria, Medicare will cover up to 100 days in one of these skilled nursing communities.

The discharge plan

As soon as your aging parent is admitted, the staff begins discharge planning. When a team of caregivers determines that your senior is healthy enough for release, they will call a meeting and provide options for the family to investigate and consider.

Use a Discharge Planning Checklist to help you prepare for the meeting. It will make it easier for you to have all the information discharge planners need to assess your senior loved one’s care and home environment.

If you aren’t certain if your senior loved one will be safe at home, be sure to share your concerns with the discharge team. They can share resources, offer support and possibly alter their plan. You can also appeal a Medicare discharge decision and request a reassessment.

What’s next?

Once a senior in your care is released from a hospital or rehab center, you will need to decide the best approach for making a full recovery. You will have several choices to consider:

1) Home care administered by family. This will require that you wear many hats as you take on a nursing role. You may need to administer medications, care for wounds, and oversee exercise, as well as bathing, dressing, meals and housecleaning. If your loved one lives alone, you may need to stay with them until they are in better health.

2) In-home care. You might consider hiring a visiting nurse or a private duty aide to lighten your load. A qualified caregiver can make recovery easier on your senior loved one and on you. If a physician orders skilled home health care, it will typically be covered by Medicare. Otherwise, your loved one will have to pay out of pocket.

3) In-home therapy or outpatient therapy. If your loved one needs therapy to build muscle strength, recover lost speech skills, or to re-learn ordinary tasks, a physician may order in-home therapy or outpatient therapy. With a physician’s order, both are usually covered by a senior’s Medicare.

4) Respite Care: You may want to consider a short-term stay at an assisted living community if your loved one is not ready to return home alone after a hospitalization. This allows them to live in a safe and comfortable home-like environment where they can get 24-assistance with care tasks. They can also receive therapy services through a skilled home health agency while they are recovering at an assisted living community.

If you are considering respite care for your recovering senior loved one in the Great Lakes State, call the Heritage Senior Community nearest you.

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