January 25, 2021

The brave men and women who served our country with honor and dedication deserve only the best, especially as they grow older. Fortunately, Illinois veterans are eligible to use their Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits to pay for the costs of long-term care. 

What Is Long-Term Care?

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) describes long-term care as:

“… a variety of services designed to meet a person’s health or personal care needs during a short or long period of time. Long-term care services help people live as independently and safely as possible when they can no longer perform everyday activities on their own.”

Studies suggest that the majority of older adults will need some form of long-term care at some point in their lives, typically for four years or more.

Long-term care can refer to a number of different types of services, including institutionalized care options (such as nursing homes or assisted living facilities) as well as home care, including non-medical home care or respite care. 

Non-medical home care is a popular choice for long-term care. Surveys repeatedly show that the vast majority of older adults want to age in place at home for as long as possible. Non-medical home care helps empower seniors to live independently in the comfort and safety of their own homes by connecting them with the personalized support they need to live a more full and enriched life — including driving services, meal preparation, support with activities of daily living, laundry and housekeeping help, and friendly companionship. 

Using VA Benefits for Long-Term Care in Illinois

As the Administration for Community Living (ACL) explains, the VA pays for long-term care services “health programs such as nursing home care and at-home care for aging veterans with long-term care needs.” 

All enrolled veterans are eligible for “Services at Home and in the Community” through their standard comprehensive VA Medical Benefits Package. To get the service, you must “have a clinical need for it, and the service must be available in your location,” as the VA explains. 

Long-term care services that are part of the VA Standard Benefits Package include:

  • Geriatric evaluations
  • Adult day health care
  • In-home respite care
  • Skilled home health care

Copays may be necessary for certain services. The veteran’s income and service-connected disability status may impact the cost of care services. You can learn more through the VA’s website, here. 

Veterans may be eligible for additional VA programs if they have a service-related disability, or if they are unable to pay for the costs of necessary care.

As the ACL explains, the VA has two main programs designed to help aging veterans stay in their homes: 

The Housebound Aid and Attendance Allowance Program

As the VA explains, these benefits “provide monthly payments added to the amount of a monthly VA pension for qualified veterans and survivors,” specifically those who are housebound or who need help with daily activities. 

Veterans and their families can use this allowance to purchase home and community-based long-term care services such as personal care assistance and homemaker services. 

You can learn more about eligibility and how to apply for these programs through the VA’s guide, available here. 

Veteran-Directed Home and Community Based Services Programs (VD-HCBS)

This program provides veterans of any age with a flexible budget to purchase necessary services. As the VA explains, this program is for veterans “who need personal care services and help with activities of daily living,” such as assistance with bathing, dressing, or fixing meals. This program is also useful for veterans “who are isolated,” or who have a primary caregiver experiencing a significant burden. 

Veterans utilizing this program are given a budget for services that is managed by the veteran or their representative. “With the help of a counselor,” the VA notes, “veterans hire their own workers to meet their daily needs to help them live at home or in their community.”

Learn more about eligibility requirements and getting started with Veteran-Directed Care programs online here. 

Live in the Chicago Area? We’re Here to Help

Here at Companions for Seniors, our mission is to empower seniors to live independently and with dignity in the comfort of their own homes by helping them to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, connecting them with their community, and nurturing meaningful relationships.

Our companions are trained and bonded, and our team can help your family develop and implement a personalized care plan to help the older adult in your life maintain a higher quality of life – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. 

Caring for others isn’t just what we do; it’s our passion. We’re always here to be an open and sympathetic ear, and we’re happy to help guide you in the right direction when it comes to all things long-term care. We are proud to be locally owned in the Chicago area, with services available in the city and suburbs. 

Have any questions about paying for home care services? Ready to start thinking seriously about long-term care in Illinois for yourself or an aging loved one? Don’t hesitate to get in touch online today to get the conversation started, or give us a call at 866-910-9020.