Many family caregivers wonder if they are doing all they can to advocate for their senior loved ones or if their efforts could be more effective.
They want to try to give them everything that they need to age successfully, whether it is some assistance, meals, home care – – or a lot of assistance including daily caregiving.
There are many constraints that may keep our senior loved ones from getting all that they may need, including access to a family caregiver, declining medical status, long distance caregivers or limited finances.
Most of us are unable to give more time than we do already but can find ways to get our seniors meals or other supplies, even if we live a long distance from them.
Helping Seniors Make Ends Meet
For all the effort we put into providing care, sometimes senior loved ones need financial resources to bridge the gap between their funds and expenses.
The money is harder to come by if not already saved by your senior or unless they are entitled to benefits they have not yet collected.
Your senior loved one may be fortunate enough to have planned ahead and saved enough money to meet their current needs, have a good pension that has remained strong over time, own their own home, and obtained a good long term care policy that helps with home care needs.
Many seniors, however, are not so fortunate.
Some who need help bridging the gap may not realize they are entitled to benefits or need help in finding and applying for the benefits to which they are entitled, benefits which can make a real difference as they age.
Many veterans who served our country are not aware there are benefits that may serve them well now as they age.
The Aid and Attendance and Housebound Improved Pension Benefit, also known as A&A, can help our senior loved ones pay for the cost of care in the home.
This benefit covers not only paid caregivers but also family members, including sons and daughters who can be paid to be the caregiver. Spouses are not eligible to receive money.
The benefit can also help pay for the cost of assisted living care or even a nursing home.
The amount can be up to $2,019 a month for a veteran and spouse or up to $1,094 for the widow of a veteran. This is an amount of money that can help provide services for our senior loved ones that might mean the difference between aging in a place they prefer.
The Veterans Affairs department calls that A&A Benefit a well-kept secret that is very underused by the nation’s veterans. It has been entitled to pay benefits for almost 61 years but even some VA employees aren’t aware of it.
To learn more and find out if your senior loved one may be eligible for benefits, check out VeteranAid.org. A veteran did not have to be injured and only needed to have completed one day of the 90 day minimum military service during a time of war. There also must be a caregiver required to provide activities of daily living, indicating the veteran needs some assistance.
Don’t let the caveat that a veteran must be totally disabled dissuade you from applying because every veteran 65 and older is automatically considered disabled by the VA.
There are other benefits that veterans can take advantage of if they qualify including:
- Basic Pension
- Adapting Housing Grants
- Mortgage Life Insurance
- Disability Compensation if post-service disability related
- Survivors Pension
- Home Loans
- Burial Assistance including a headstone or grave marker
- Death Benefits including a flag drape over the casket
- State Veterans Home Program – care provided by individual states
- Free Tax Preparation
Filling out these forms may not be a piece of cake but don’t pay anyone to help you file for benefits. According to the VA, it is forbidden to charge a veteran for filling out these forms. Some scammers may offer to help for free and then charge for consultations later down the road.
Dementia Care for Veterans
The number of people diagnosed with dementia continues to grow with the aging population. It has not ignored veterans.
One estimate pegged the number of veterans who would have dementia at over 600,000 by the year 2000.
VA programs specific to those diagnosed with dementia include;
- Geriatric Research
- Clinical Centers
- Geriatric Evaluation Units (hospitals serving veterans with dementia)
- Special Care Units for Veterans with Dementia including Memory Care Units and Long Term Care
- Respite Care to relieve caregiver
- Caregiver Support Groups
- Education Materials
- Linking Veterans to Non-VA Services
Help for Veterans and Their Families
There are many organizations for military personnel that have programs specifically for veterans. If your senior qualifies, there may be some assistance offered through these associations or programs.
- Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)
- The American Legion
- Walgreens – no cost flu shots for veterans
- National Association of American Veterans
- Disabled American Veterans
- Assorted Military and Veteran Associations
As with most organizations and government agencies, it may require a time investment to seek out and apply for some of this assistance. No one will be showing up at your door ready to hand over a benefits check.
It is a good idea to gather together as much information about your senior’s military service including the dates of service, copies of discharge paperwork and any other pertinent military history. Having this information handy will make it easier to apply for benefits and assistance.
Don’t Give Up Easily
If you try to get benefits and told there are none or no that your senior isn’t eligible, you may want to try again since you should be told in an easy to understand way why they were not eligible so that you can pursue another avenue. They may have denied the claim because all the necessary paperwork wasn’t provided, paperwork you can get and submit. You can also appeal their decision if you believe your senior would be eligible.
Here’s a book that you might like written by an elder law attorney we respect and previously interviewed on our podcast, Victoria L. Collier, 47 Secret Veteran’s Benefits for Seniors – Benefits You Have Earned…but Don’t Know About!
Every dollar in benefits you uncover could help offset the costs of aging for your senior loved one. Being able to find some benefits to relieve some financial strain could help family caregivers help seniors!
Good luck in obtaining all the benefits to which your senior veteran is entitled – – we are grateful for their service and want to see them get the benefits that service earned them!