During the month of November we celebrate Veterans Day.
Although we believe it is important to say thank you to our servicemen and women throughout the year, this holiday allows us to take a moment to say thank you and remember who the holiday is dedicated to.
November is also the month that we celebrate the family caregiver.
This is an individual within your family who has taken their time to ensure that a loved one who is in need of care receives it. This could be for an aging parent, a young child, or a loved one facing disability somewhere between each of those age brackets. The family caregivers we see in our practice, are often not only caring for one person but have the responsibility of caring for two or three individuals. We see this manifest with our Sandwich Generation Caregivers who are caring for both an aging parent and school-age children.
During this month, we want you to remember both of these groups of individuals and the important things they do each day but, especially, for our family caregivers who are providing services to our senior veterans. You may be surprised to learn that we have a number of clients in this particular place.
When they come to our office for help they are surprised to learn that there are specific resources available to family caregivers of veterans.
We want to take a moment to share some of the ways we can help these individuals.
1. Whether you are a veteran or not, maintaining an up-to-date estate plan is critical. You may not have considered this yet, especially for the family caregiver, but a plan needs to be in place. Through an estate plan the senior veteran can choose who has the legal authority to make decisions for him or her with regard to health care and financial decisions. While the Department of Veteran Affairs does offer a power of attorney for certain purposes, they are limited in reach to VA issues. You need to have Virginia estate planning documents in place that reflect what you want in the event you are unable to communicate due to incapacity.
2. The Department of Veteran Affairs has specific resources available based on your location, including options for long-term care support. We have a number of those resources available right here in our part of Virginia. You may click this link which will take you to the long-term care services website for servicemen and women to learn more about what is available locally. From homemaker services to pilot programs providing extra care within the home to adult daycare, there may be additional resources available for you and your family caregivers.
3. Another resource available to family caregivers and veterans is the VA pension. The VA pension is an often underutilized benefit for veteran seniors and their dependents. This is a tax-free, monthly income that is in no way tied to a service-connected disability. There are eligibility requirements surrounding dates of wartime service, health, income, and assets.
While there are services like these that the veteran can apply for on his or her own, we encourage you to first speak with a VA accredited attorney. Your attorney will be able to talk to you about the steps you need to take to be able to qualify for these VA benefits and possibly more. Remember, these benefits may also be used to compensate a family caregiver who is providing care to the veteran within his or her home.
We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. We know it is not easy to be either an aging veteran or a family caregiver, and understand those challenges. If you have questions, we would encourage you to schedule a meeting to talk to attorney Donna Wilson and get the answers that you need. Do not wait to take steps you need to ensure that you can always follow the road to peace of mind plan for yourself and your loved ones.