November 7, 2018

The Short Version of Veterans Aid and Attendance

By: Darleen Mahoney

This weekend, our Nation will reflect on the sacrifices that our Veterans and War Heroes have made over the years as it became a national holiday in 1938. As their sacrifices have provided safety, security and the freedom our country continues to enjoy, it’s important to know what benefits our Veterans may be eligible. Its important that they be aware and utilize what is available, especially if they find themselves in unexpected need.

According to the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, “Elderly Veterans may be eligible for a wide-variety of benefits available to all U.S. military Veterans.”

What exactly is Aid and Attendance? Its super simple, the veteran must require help Veterans Benefitswith daily living or activities at home, assisted living, nursing home, or skilled nursing. Their need does not have to be related to any military service.

If you are applying for “Aid and Attendance” and would like benefits based on a housebound status, the Veterans Agency will allow some costs and annualized medical expenses if it’s for medical care. Those aging in place and using Home Health services do not have to be licensed. However, if the beneficiary or Veteran has been diagnosed with a cognitive disorder such as Alzheimer’s, a physician’s statement must indicate that a protective environment is in place.

If you are seeking Aid and Attendance benefits while living or would like to move to an Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing Facility, the facility will be required to sign a statement verifying the type of care being given or what they are expecting that resident to receive.  You will also be required to submit a “Care Provider Report”.

How do you know if you may qualify? Here are a few simple indictors:

  1. Age: you or surviving spouse must be 65 or older or officially disabled if younger.
  2. Period of Military Service- you must be considered a “wartime veteran”, meaning that you have served a minimum of 90 days with only one of those days during wartime dates. You did not have to serve in combat to qualify.
    1. World War II: December 7, 1941-December 31, 1946
    2. Korean War: June 27, 1950-January 31, 1955
    3. Vietnam War: August 5, 1964-May 7, 1975
    4. Gulf War: August 2, 1990-Undetermined
  3. Discharge Status: you cannot be dishonorably Discharged

Applying and understanding these benefits can get very complicated, seeking the professional guidance and advice of a licensed, professional Elder Law Attorney is encouraged to help guide you through this process. If you can receive a referral from a family friend or your Trust and Estate Planning Attorney, this may help guide you in the right direction.

If you are needing additional funds to cover the cost of Home Health services, Assisted Living, or Skilled Nursing for you and your spouse, you may qualify for:

Living Veteran                                                  Monthly Rate

Housebound Without Dependents:                       $1,340

Housebound Without Dependents:                       $1,680

Aid and Attendance W/O Dependents:                 $1,830

Aid and Attendance W/ Dependent:                     $2,169

In October 2018, the VA made new rules to fiscally qualify for benefits. The new net worth limits of $123,600 became effective. They will look at the Veteran’s overall net worth in addition to income. There are also other rules that could affect a Veteran from qualifying, seeking professional guidance may be helpful.

If you believe that you or a Veteran loved qualifies for Aid and Attendance, it can always be helpful to speak to the Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing facility that you are considering, and they may have folks who are trained to assist you through this process as well.

If you find that you or your Veteran qualify, and you begin your process to apply, you are encouraged to get organized, make sure that all your paperwork and forms are completed. Above all, do not get discouraged.

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August 17, 2018

Aging in Place- Not Just A Buzz Phrase

By: Darleen Mahoney

Aging in PlaceCertainly, you are hearing the term “Aging in Place” more frequently. Have you wondered what this really means? The very clear definition of Aging in Place is quite simple. It defines a person living in the residence of their choosing for as long as they are able, as they age. This includes the ability to receive any home health care services or other services over time even as their needs change. Ideally, the goal would be maintaining a higher quality of life for a elderly person as they are in the home of their choice, addressing their health, social, and overall emotional needs.

Why are some seniors choosing the Aging in place option?

  • Comfortable and familiar environment
  • Feeling of Independence
  • Convenience to familiar services
  • Security
  • Close to family

Ideally, Aging in place is a well thought out plan that you have in place for your future long before it becomes necessary. It requires specific financial planning, choices and making your choices clear to your family and friends. Aging in place does not necessarily mean that you are burdened with doing everything yourself, there are multiple resources available such as the National Council for Aging Care.

Home modifications should be considered when making the decision to Age in place. Today, there are products that exist that allow people to change their homes to fit their physical needs. You do not have to outgrow the place you love. There are even home remodelers that specialize in making a home “senior friendly” or “senior safe”.

As you consider making home modifications and weighing your options, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development notes why aging at home may save money for some seniors. If a senior no longer has a mortgage to pay and would need to make improvements on their current home to sell, it may be advantageous to remain in their own “mortgage free” home and make renovations that would suit their senior lifestyle and age in place.

When deciding if Aging in place is ideal for you, making a list may be a good option. Its important to be honest and consider what your physical, emotional, social, and financial capabilities will be. You need to ask yourself a few basic questions:

  • Is this the ideal solution for me to spend my Golden years?
  • Is this the environment that I see myself in? Do I not want to be in a more social environment?
  • Am I concerned that I might need additional healthcare that may not be available if I Age in place?
  • Will I require multiple home care services?
  • What are my other options, and have I weighed them?

You have decided that Aging in place is the best of option for you.  You need to start planning but want to make sure that you are making the right choices and planning correctly. The good news is that The National Aging in Place Council provides a planning template to simply your steps and helps you plan accordingly, providing peace of mind as you move forward. The Council also provides great information with practical advice.

While Aging in place, a home health care service can provide many benefits for you medically and many other personalized services. When deciding on which home health care service you might like to choose, please visit SeniorLivingGuide.com and review each one to see what they offer and which one is the best fit for you.

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July 12, 2018

Be in The Senior Housing Know: Home Health Care

By: Darleen Mahoney

Home Health Care by definition according to Wikipedia: is, “Home care is supportive care provided in the home. Care may be provided by licensed healthcare professionals who provide medical treatment needs or by professional caregivers

Home Health Care providing assistance to elderly woman

who provide daily assistance.” Home Health Care provides the ability for seniors to age in place and provides other caregivers a break.

Those who might consider Home Health Care may be recovering from a procedure, have a degenerative disorder or in need of general medical care. Home Health is recommended most often by a doctor after a visit or a hospital stay because it is provided by medical professionals.

One of the benefits that Home Health Care provides is that not only is there a medical professional in the home providing the specialized care that is needed, but also provides personal services as well.

Home Health Services that may be included, but not limited to depending on what the provider offers:

  • Skilled Nursing
  • Physical therapy
  • Pain management
  • Wound care
  • Prescription management
  • Helping those with Alzheimer’s or dementia

Personal Services that may be included, but not limited to depending on what the provider offers:

  • Grooming, like dressing and help with bathing
  • Medication reminders
  • Errands
  • Help with moving around the home
  • Cooking meals

Because Home Health Care are in the home, they can work with family members daily to make sure that routines are followed, make recommendations on medications and keep the senior in their home environment longer.

The cost of Home Health Care as an option could come down to who is going to pay for the care. While a family caregiver will not receive any monies from any programs, Medicare has limited coverage for home care. When coverage is provided through Medicare it is only covered through a Medicare-certified home health care agency.  Always check with your insurance provider and any other resources that may help with the expense of Home Health Care.

If you would like to age in place and explore different Home Healthcare providers in your area to see what they offer, please visit SeniorLivingGuide.com, click on the state and area of interest. Review each one carefully, weigh the options and what is important to you and your family and then schedule a call to discuss those options.

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