Dear Veterans: You have done so much to serve us, let us serve you!
AARP Michigan will run a regular feature on this web page about programs, services and benefits available to veterans.
And while you’re here, check out the new AARP website on resources for Veterans: www.aarp.org/veterans
This entry in the Military Monday series will address:
VA Supports for Caregiving
More than 5.5 million caregivers help our veterans. Of these, 1.1 million care for someone who served in the military after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Spouses, parents, friends, neighbors, and children devote substantial amounts of time and effort caring for our wounded, ill, and injured veterans. Getting help and support can improve the health and well-being of our veterans and their family caregivers.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a number of services specifically for people who care for veterans. Every VA medical center has a Caregiver Support Program coordinated by a Caregiver Support Coordinator, who serves as a resource expert for veterans and their families. Online go to www.caregiver.va.gov or call the VA’s Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274 for more information. The National Resource Directory at www.nationalresourcedirectory.gov is another place to go to find out about services and resources for veterans and those who care for them at the national, state, and local levels.
Some services available through the VA that assist military caregivers:
Post-9/11 Caregiver Program. A program specially created to assist caregivers of veterans who were seriously injured after September 11, 2001. Eligible caregivers can receive
- a monthly stipend based on the veteran’s personal care needs
- expenses while traveling with a veteran getting care
- health care insurance
- mental health services and counseling
- caregiver training
- respite care
Home and community based services. Skilled home health care, homemaker/home health aide services, community adult day health care, hospice and palliative care, respite care, home-based primary care, tele-health care, and veteran directed care may be available, offered either directly by the VA or by local providers who contract with the VA.
Nursing home care. The VA provides nursing home level care in VA Community Living Centers, state veterans’ homes, and private facilities that contract with the VA. Each program has separate admission and eligibility criteria, but the VA pays the full cost for eligible veterans.
Aid and Attendance. Aid & Attendance (A&A) provides a larger VA pension if the veteran:
- Needs another person to help with bathing, feeding, dressing, toileting, or adjusting prosthetic devices
- Is bedridden
- Is a patient in a skilled nursing facility or nursing home
- Has very limited eyesight.
Patient Aligned Care Teams (PACT). These teams provide primary care using a patient-centered medical home model.
Geriatric Evaluation and Management (GEM). This is inpatient or outpatient short-term comprehensive evaluation and care management.
Other Sources of Support
Over 100 programs provide services for veterans’ caregivers. Finding the right support services can be challenging. Some services that may be available through service organizations or other groups that help veterans include:
Direct Support. Help with loans, donations, housing support, or transportation assistance.
Financial stipend. Compensation for a caregiver’s time devoted to caregiving activities or for lost wages.
Patient advocate or case manager. An individual who is a liaison between the veteran, care providers, and the caregiver to coordinate care.
Religious support. Spiritual-based guidance or counseling.
Respite care . Help to give the caregiver a short-term, temporary break. This could be in-home care, a short stay in a facility, or adult day care for the veteran. Visit archrespite.org/respitelocator for more information.
Social support . Online or in-person caregiver support groups for caregivers.
Training. In-person or online classes, webinars, manuals, or workbooks to improve caregiving skills and reduce the caregiver burden.
Wellness activities. Family leisure and recreational activities, fitness classes, or stress-relief lessons.