Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Is Your Parent a Vet? And Caring for a Spouse? VAA Program Can Help

For years I've joined senior care professionals around the country in touting a national program called Veterans Aid and Attendance.   It targets wartime vets, now age 65 or over, who served in World War II, the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War,  (also the Gulf War), helping them pay for personal care at home or in group care settings.

It's a laudable program which helps many vets fill in the gap between the high costs of medical care and their fixed incomes.

Just yesterday, though, I discovered a wrinkle in this program.  And a great one.  The spouse of a wartime veteran can also get financial help for medical expenses, to the tune of as much as $1348 a month.

The idea makes sense:  Helping the spouse aids the caregiving vet in battling the stresses which accompany that difficult role.

The program has limits on income and assets.  In addition, the disabled vet or spouse must need help with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, eating, etc. 

Pass the word along:  to any older disabled vet or an able-bodied vet caring for a spouse.  Perhaps your parent could benefit. For more information, contact http://www.benefits.va.gov/pension/aid_attendance_housebound.asp

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Touring Assisted Living: Tips to Make the Minutes Count

You're busy, but you've got a job to do:  find assisted living for your parent that is affordable, comfortable, and hopefully filled with fun people, staff and residents alike.

This is a big ticket item, both financially and emotionally.  And you have the idea that seeing is believing.  And rightly so. So you tour. But you don't have to drain yourself doing it.  Here are some time and energy savers to make touring more productive.

1.  Do some research beforehand:  Online information is heavy on marketing, not so much on practical information or pricing. Community websites do, however, give you some sort of feel for whether your parent might feel comfortable there. Another source is the company's brochure with pricing.  Consider calling to request it.  Some communities are averse to giving out pricing information without a visit.  Try anyway.  The only potential downside to giving them your address is that the company may add you to their mailing list.

2.  Make a wish list of the "deal breakers,"  things that your parent and you must have.  Thirty minutes from your work or home? Pet friendly? Anytime dining? Within your proposed budget? These are suggestions; your list will be unique.

3.  If possible make appointments with the marketing representatives.   This doesn't rule out dropping in, just to get a feel of the building, the people and how things work,  but a specific appointment time will usually give you a better experience.

4.  Make sure you're well rested.  Tour when you're feeling the best, often morning or early afternoon.  In assisted living communities you may see more activities happening in the morning; many residents are into siesta mode in the afternoon.  Another tip to keep you from tiring:  visit one or two communities in one day.  On average, each community will take 60 to 90 minutes to tour.

5.  Keep hunger and thirst at bay.  If you have the time, ask to include lunch with the tour.  You can sample the food and watch and listen to the residents in the dining room.  If time is limited, bring water and snacks to keep your brain and body working well.  Touring is hard work.

6. Come a bit early and linger in the lobby.  Engage the residents; it's easy to do. Many will tell you exactly how they feel about living there.  Pluses and minuses:  food, care, activities, everything. Sometimes you'll run into a daughter or son, whose parent lives there.  Their words are worth far more than that of a paid employee's pitch. 

Have you heard of other tips to make touring assisted living communities easier?
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