Veterans Aid and Attendance: Check It Out, See What It’s About

Veterans are VIPs for sure; not just on their special commemorative day November 11, but every day. As they were proud to serve for their country, we are honored to support them in every way possible.  One of the needs we strive to support is being a resource for financial assistance when or if it is needed.  We have hosted program presentations by professional advocates to help educate us all about Veterans Aid and Attendance.  We’d like to share what we’ve learned.   

 Whether you are a veteran or your spouse is or was a veteran, it is of great benefit to find out about this payment source that helps support senior living.  According to statistics provided by A Place for Mom, only an estimated quarter of eligible seniors apply for this benefit which can cover thousands of dollars for senior living and caregiving expenses.  The problem has a simple solution—don’t assume you’re not eligible, don’t assume there are too many restrictions, find out for certain.  

First, understand what it is and what it can do. The VA Aid and Attendance program provides a substantial monthly payment in addition to the existing VA pension for eligible veterans and surviving spouses. Think of it as a supplemental income added to the VA Pension or survivors Pension to help cover the cost of long-term senior care.  

For those older veterans or their surviving spouses who are not able to manage without assistance, the VA Aid and Assistance enables these individuals to have support for costs of assisted living, memory care, and in-home care services as well as skilled care/nursing home settings. All that’s actually required by the senior living community is that it provides 24-hour staffing and that the veteran or surviving spouse requires assistance with at least two of the six activities of daily living (ADLs) listed by the VA. 

ADLs, simply put, are the basic tasks a person needs to be able to do to live independently. These are tasks needed every day. These are essential to staying healthy and safe.  A most used tool used by professionals to determine and assess the overall health and function of older adults is The Katz Index of Independence in Activities of Daily Living: 

  • Bathing and showering—being able to do either , as well as dental, hair and nail hygiene 
  • Continence—being able to control bowels and bladder 
  • Dressing—being able to dress without assistance, choosing appropriate clothes and outerwear 
  • Mobility—ability to walk or transfer from  bed or chair  
  • Feeding—being able to take food from the plate to the mouth and being able to chew and swallow 
  • Toileting—being able to get on and off the toilet and to clean self without assistance. 

There is another instrument that measures ability –the Lawton-Brody scale, which measures Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) and evaluates being able to do tasks that require more thinking and organizational skills. Often, families who do not live nearby older parents or relatives do not notice certain declines in abilities. During a visit which has not occurred as frequently, they are sometimes surprised to see that these tasks, while once very aptly handled, have become more challenging: 

  • Cleaning and housekeeping—including maintenance and other chores to maintain the home 
  • Laundry—ability to do the task, or letting clothes, towels, bedding go unwashed 
  • Managing money 
  • Managing medications and taking them as directed 
  • Preparing meals 
  • Shopping for groceries and other necessities 
  • Transportation—including changing residences and moving
  • Using communication devices—including telephones or computers 

Perhaps it’s time for more assistance, even another environment for senior living. Think about the possibilities for a better, safer, healthier life for a veteran you may know during this time when we celebrate all the sacrifices they made for our country. Contact your local Veterans Assistance office; ask about VA Aid and Attendance to determine eligibility.  We also invite you to call Residences at Deer Creek, Schererville,  (219) 864-0700 or Residences at Coffee Creek, Chesterton, (219) 921-5200. Use us as a springboard for more information and resources because we are proud to serve veterans and grateful for all the service they have provided.  

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