According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 9.2 million veterans ages 65 or older in the United States. These Veterans, like you, served in conflicts around the world including World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and even in the Persian Gulf War.
To help you meet the challenges of aging, the VA offers a wide variety of benefits and services. While some are income-based, many programs aren’t. As the son of a veteran, I’m happy to provide this article (and others in the series) to VA Benefits for Home and Long-Term Care in recognition and honor of your service to our country.
MEDICAL FOSTER HOMES
Should Home and Community Based Services no longer meet a veteran’s needs, Medical Foster Homes may be a good option. These are private homes in which trained caregivers provide services to only a few individuals for those who require nursing home care but would prefer a non-institutional setting with fewer residents.
While some, but not all, residents are veterans, the VA inspects and approves all Medical Foster Homes to ensure that the caregivers are well trained to provide VA planned care. As a general rule, these Homes have a trained caregiver on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week who can help the veteran with services and activities including:
- Activities of daily living such as bathing and getting dressed • Medication management
- Some nursing assistance, if the caregiver is a registered nurse
- Meal planning and preparation
- Planned recreational and social activities
To be eligible you need to be enrolled in Home Based Primary Care, which you will still receive in the Medical Foster Home, and a Home needs to be available. Your VA social worker or case manager can help you with eligibility guidelines for both Home Based Primary Care and Medical Foster Homecare.
As Medical Foster Homes are not provided or paid for by VA, the veteran will generally have to pay for a Medical Foster Home out of their own pocket or through other insurance. This can average anywhere from $1500 to $3000 each month based on the veteran’s income and level of care.
If a Medical Foster Home seems like a good option, your VA social worker/case manager can help you locate one and assist with making arrangements. They can also advise you if the veteran is entitled to additional VA benefits that can help pay for its cost.
COMMUNITY LIVING CENTERS
Unlike many nursing homes in the past, a Community Living Center through the VA resembles “home” as much as possible with activities for veterans of all ages. There are family friendly places for visiting. Veterans are invited to decorate their rooms. And, pets are allowed to visit or live in the Community Living Center.
Veterans may stay for a short time or, in rare instances, for the rest of their life and receive a variety of services that can include:
- 24-hour skilled nursing care such as help with a wound or IV care
- Access to social work services
- Geriatric evaluation and management
- Restorative care
Some Community Living Centers also provide:
- Mental health recovery care
- Palliative Care and Hospice Care for end of life
- Respite Care
- Special care for veterans with dementia or other cognitive deficits
The mission of a Community Living Center is to restore each veteran to his or her highest level of well-being. It is also to prevent declines in health and to provide comfort at the end of life.
To move into a Community Living Center, the veteran must first be enrolled in the VA health system, and be medically and psychiatrically stable. Eligibility is then based on the veteran’s clinical needs and availability IF the veteran meets specific criteria involving service-connected status, service-connected disability status, and income. Based on this information, a copay may be charged. Your VA social worker/case manager can help you complete the Application for Extended Care Benefits (Form 10-10EC) to learn any possible copay amount.
While most of the 132 VA Community Living Centers are on or close to the campus of a VA medical center, not all VA Community Living Centers provide all services. Please contact your local VA medical center to find out what services are provided.
STATE VETERAN HOMES
State Veterans Homes are facilities that provide nursing home, home care and/or adult day care. Owned, operated and managed by state governments, they date back to the post-Civil War era when many states created them to provide shelter for homeless and disabled veterans.
Eligibility for State Veterans Homes is based on clinical need and availability. While some State Veterans Homes may admit non-veteran spouses and gold star parents, others may admit only veterans.
To participate in the State Veterans Home program, the VA must formally recognize and certify a facility as a State Veterans Home. The VA then visits and surveys all facilities each year to ensure that the facility continues to meet VA standards of care.
While a recognized State Veterans Home may receive payments from VA to help defray the cost of care provided to veterans, the cost to the veteran varies by state. However, the VA does not pay for care for non-veterans.
State Veterans Homes are located in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Some states have more than one State Veterans Homes. For a list of locations, visit the National Association of State Veterans Homes.
Contact your VA social worker/case manager to discuss the eligibility requirements of State Veterans Homes near you and to figure out a plan for paying for their services.
If you are a veteran or are helping someone who is, there are a wide variety of benefits and service available to you. While some are income-based, many programs aren’t. By becoming familiar with all of the benefits in this article and the other four in the series, you can take full advantage of everything you’re entitled to—making your journey along the gray mile easier and more affordable.