VA geriatrics are programs designed to give veterans care for later in life. VA extended care includes several programs that help veterans with everyday tasks and the management of chronic illnesses.
What Are VA Geriatrics and VA Extended Care?
Veterans with mesothelioma and other chronic illnesses and those entering the later stages of life often require special long-term care. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers several benefits to help such veterans through their Geriatrics and Extended Care programs.
VA geriatrics and VA extended care programs include:
- Nursing care
- Assisted living services
Through these programs, qualifying veterans can access a wide range of care services that help them live their lives fully.
- Many VA geriatrics and extended care programs can be accessed at a veteran’s home, a nursing home, community sites, and residential settings.
- Geriatrics and extended care programs are not just for veterans — many services provide support for family members and other caregivers.
- Geriatrics and extended care programs provide services that enhance a veteran’s quality of life while respecting their personal, cultural, and religious beliefs.
- VA Disability Claims
- Survivor Benefits
- Finding Veteran Doctors
VA Extended Care Services
The VA provides many different types of services for veterans who need extended care. These programs range from physical care to financial assistance to education to emotional support.
The VA’s hospice care services help veterans who have 6 months of life or less make the most of their precious time.
This program involves a multidisciplinary team that works with veterans and their families to create a plan of care that meets the veteran’s needs.
The hospice care program provides:
- Palliative care treatments
- Help controlling symptoms
- Bereavement support to family members
All services provided are performed with respect to the culture, religious beliefs, and personal wishes of the veteran involved.
Skilled Home Health Care
Skilled home health care is a program that brings in VA-paid medical professionals to serve veterans who have special care needs but live far away from VA centers.
Skilled home health care helps veterans who need services such as:
- Skilled nursing
- Case management
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Speech therapy
- Wound care
- IV antibiotics
This VA benefit can be used with other home- and community-based services.
The VA’s palliative care program focuses on relieving suffering and controlling symptoms to help veterans live as comfortably and happily as possible.
The veteran works with an interdisciplinary team to come up with the best plan of care for them.
A VA palliative care team may include a:
- Medical provider
- Mental health provider
- Social worker
- Others a veteran may need
Veterans can access palliative care as soon as they are diagnosed with an illness. Their care team will be there to support them throughout the course of their illness.
Respite care is a type of service designed to give primary caregivers a break or time to complete important tasks.
There are two types of respite assistance:
- Home respite care: This service pays for someone to come to a veteran’s home or for a veteran to go to an adult daycare program. Caregivers may use home respite care for 6 hours at a time.
- Nursing home respite care: If a caregiver is going to be unavailable for a few days, this program pays for a loved one to go to a nursing home while they are away. Caretakers may use nursing home respite care for up to 30 days a year.
Respite care goes a long way in helping veteran caretakers manage the stress and strain of caring for a loved one.
Home-Based Primary Care
Home-based primary care describes VA health care services provided to home-bound veterans who have complex care needs that routine clinic-based care cannot help with.
A VA physician-supervised health care team provides these services to veterans at their homes.
This program also helps veterans experiencing isolation and caregivers who feel overburdened by their duties.
Information for Caregivers
For many veterans, a family caregiver is the most vital member of their caretaking team — but caring for a loved one over the course of months or years can be incredibly difficult.
To support caregivers, the VA has multiple caregiver benefits.
VA caregiver services include:
- VA Caregiver Support Line: This resource connects caregivers with licensed professionals who can help them find VA services, connect with a local caregiver support coordinator, or simply lend a sympathetic ear.
- Peer Support Mentoring Program: This program connects caregiver mentors and mentees and provides training to caregivers who wish to become mentors.
- Building Better Caregivers: This free online workshop helps caretakers build the practical and coping skills needed to care for a veteran at home.
- Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers: This program provides post-9/11 veterans with financial services, health insurance, mental health services, and respite care.
- REACH VA: REACH VA pairs caregivers with trained coaches who mentor them in how to care for veterans with serious conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), dementia, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or spinal cord injury/disorder.
Applying for VA Geriatrics and Extended Care Benefits
In order to apply for VA geriatrics and extended care benefits, veterans must be enrolled in VA health care.
Veterans can apply to these services by calling the health care line at (877) 222-8387 or visiting their local VA medical center.
To enroll in caregiver support services under the Program of General Caregiver Support Services, caretakers can call toll free at +1 (855) 260-3274.
Paying for Extended Care
Many families worry about how they will pay for extended care, but veterans in need have several payment options through the VA.
Factors that affect your costs for VA services include:
- VA service-connected disability status: This is a rating between 0-100%. The greater the disability sustained through a veteran’s military service, the higher the rating — and the monthly financial compensation. Veterans with mesothelioma are usually assigned a 100% disability rating.
- Income: The VA will determine the cost of services based, in part, on a veteran’s financial need.
These two factors are reviewed to determine if a veteran will be charged a copay for VA health care services and VA long term care services.
Veterans have multiple options for paying for extended care:
- VA Benefits: VA benefits for mesothelioma include compensation, veterans’ pension, and aid & attendance.
- Medicare: Medicare is a federal health insurance system for U.S. citizens 65 and older or under 65 with certain disabilities. The program may help pay for services such as skilled nursing home care and some home health services.
- Medicaid: Medicaid is a state insurance program that helps cover the medical costs of low-income individuals. Medicaid may help with Medicare premiums, copays, and deductibles. It may also help pay for services not covered by Medicare.
The VA provides many benefits that can help caretakers and their veteran loved ones with geriatric and long-term care. However, filing for VA benefit claims can be confusing and overwhelming, especially for veterans and loved ones dealing with a devastating illness like mesothelioma.
The team at the Mesothelioma Veterans Center can help. Reach out today for help with filing for mesothelioma VA benefits.