How the Aid and Attendance benefit helps veterans in California
Receiving aid with daily tasks can make a significant improvement in the quality of life for California seniors. For those who served the country bravely, the Veterans Administration Aid and Attendance Pension program is available to help make this level of improvement a little more attainable. Eligible California vets and their surviving spouses can qualify should they need aid in various activities for daily living (also known as ADLs). These tasks could include rudimentary functions like dressing, bathing, eating, transportation for errands and appointments, and medication management, although it should be noted that eligible applicants don’t need to require aid with everything in order to qualify. A&A recipients can also utilize these funds to help pay for costs associated with home care, skilled nursing home care, or assisted living.
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The application process for Aid and Attendance benefits can take several months from start to finish, but applicants who are approved get retroactive benefits back to the original application date. If you need help with the process, there are resources ready to help you. The California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) offers the state’s veterans a full suite of services that includes assisted living homes, help with Veterans Administration claims, legal aid, and more. CalVet works in tandem with the state’s County Veterans Service Offices (CVSOs) to help veterans and their family members with benefits, referrals, and advocacy. To be connected to the closest CVSO, call 844-SERV-VET. To reach CalVet headquarters in Sacramento, call 800-952-5626.
What is assisted living like?
There is some variance in assisted living facilities. The facilities that are located in larger cities like Los Angeles will be ideal for those that still want to be close to metropolitan perks such as restaurants, shops, and cultural activities. On the flip side, those who prefer the quiet nature of suburbia may gravitate toward an assisted living community in a bedroom community, where parks and familiar chain retailers rule the day.
The facilities also have variances based on interests. Some places are run by religious organizations and feature various activities and observances that are in line with the particular faith’s belief system. There are also homes that are wholly dedicated to serving veterans, which may be of interest to vets that want to spend their days enjoying the inimitable spark of camaraderie amongst those that have proudly served their country.
Each assisted living facility is home to various services that are contained within the monthly room and board fee. Basic services typically include key elements for proper senior care-fueled living, such as private living spaces, 24-hour security and nurse access, call buttons in the rooms in case of a sudden emergency, meals, housekeeping, utilities, and laundry. These essential services can be augmented for an extra fee. Extra services that could be added include salon care, massage therapy, and personalized laundry and transportation service. Because these latter services vary from venue to venue, it is always a wise idea to research to see what is included and what is constituted as an add-on perk at every assisted living facility considered. It is also prudent to ask if the facility also offers continuum of care, in which a resident can stay on the campus should their assisted living needs change over time.
What does assisted living cost in California?
According to data culled from Genworth’s 2016 Cost of Care Survey, the average cost of assisted living in California is $48,000 per year, which is above the average nationwide cost of $43,539. This price tag translates to a monthly cost of $4,000 and a daily cost of $132. Precise costs will vary based on the city and the region that the facility is located in. The state’s annual home health care costs check in at $54,912 for homemaker services and $52,624 for home health aide services. It also represents a substantial savings in comparison to California’s nursing home care costs, which can break down to an annual cost of $91,250 for a semi-private room and $112,055 for a private room.
Veterans and their spouses that do qualify for the A&A Pension Benefit can utilize the benefits they receive to help cover the assisted living costs. The benefit can provide upwards of $1,794 per month to a vet, $1,153 per month to a surviving spouse, or $2,127 per month to a couple. A veteran that files with a sick spouse can be eligible for as much as $1,410 per month.
Resources and recreation for veterans in California
CalVet runs a number of programs to support and serve the state’s 2 million veterans, including housing services, email updates on local events and services, and specialized support programs for veterans who are minority group members, women, and LGBTQ. California is also home to a rich and varied military history, and many of the state’s top tourist attractions are associated with the armed services. Here are a few of the most popular options for a day out, an assisted living field trip, or a family visit with the grandkids. Many of these destinations also welcome veterans as volunteers, to share their stories and expertise with visitors, especially young people.
The USS Midway Museum at the Navy Pier in San Diego is one of the nation’s premier military museums. The retired aircraft carrier was the largest ship in the world when it set sail in 1945. Today it’s home to more than 2 dozen restored military aircraft, 60 exhibits on several decks, and frequent community events, like free admission for vets on Veterans Day. Volunteer veterans are usually on hand to talk about their experiences and share stories.
Restored tanks, howitzers, and other military vehicles are on display for the public at the Marine Corp Mechanized Museum at Camp Pendleton. The collection, overseen by a retired Marine and his volunteer crew, is restored and kept in working order whenever possible. It includes more than 50 vehicles dating from WWI to the present.
At the Port of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Museum Battleship USS Iowa, offers visitors hours of exploration and history. The 1943-vintage ship is the only retired-battleship museum on the West Coast. Seniors and retired military visitors receive an admission discount. Call ahead to inquire about accessible tour options.