As the weather began turning from the glorious warmth of summer to the cold grip of late autumn, Tina and Robert found themselves grappling with too many changes too quickly. In their late 70s, this couple had been married for almost 60 years. High school sweethearts who were the envy of their friends, neighbors, and families for generations, they had worked hard, scrimped and saved while raising their children, and worked later into life, all to have an easy retirement.
They traveled and enjoyed the fruits of their efforts for a couple of years, but when Robert was 72, he had a heart attack followed not long afterward by a mild stroke and their plans changed. All of their savings was slipping away and by their late 70s, when Tina also began experiencing serious health issues, they couldn’t even imaging paying for home care of any kind.
This is an all-too-common story among seniors in the U.S. As a nation, we are encouraged to ‘save for retirement,’ invest, and think ahead. Unfortunately, not many people are told to plan for the possibility of needing extended long-term home care.
There are long-term insurance options, but there are also some government backed programs designed to help those in need. One of them is for ‘wartime veterans’ and it’s called the Aid and Attendance pension. Consumer Reports notes in its blog, Help With Home-Care Bills:
“Veterans accepted into Veteran-Directed Care, a home-care program available through about one-third of VA medical centers, get a flexible monthly budget—the national average is $2,000—to pay a professional or family member or friend for home care. Veterans and their families decide on the care and services needed. The program is open to any veteran who meets the criteria, including requiring help with three or more activities of daily living. There are 66 active Veteran-Directed Care programs in 38 states, as well as in Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. If none is offered locally, you can participate in a neighboring area’s program. Get more information from your Area Agency on Aging.”
Fortunately for Robert and Tina, even though he never saw combat, he was considered a wartime veteran because his time of service overlapped the Vietnam War. They were able to receive financial assistance for home care.
As more people lean on home care services in later life, it becomes essential to help spread the work that financial assistance is available to many people. If they don’t know help is out there, they may never think to look and therefore never consider home care to be a viable option and that could be a terrible missed opportunity.
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