How the Aid and Attendance benefit helps veterans in Iowa

Receiving aid with daily tasks can make a significant improvement in the quality of life for Iowa 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 Iowa 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 to receive A&A Benefits is a lengthy one - it can take several months from start to finish. However, it should be noted that approved applicants will receive retroactive benefits that go back to the original application date. And Iowa offers plenty of resources that you can utilize in order to receive aid in this process or other items related to veteran benefits. The Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) provides the state’s veterans with a full slate of special services, including assisted living homes, legal aid, help with VA claims, and more. The IDVA also employs benefits specialists that can provide vets and their families with help and guidance with benefits and general advocacy. For more information on these services and how an IDVA benefit specialist can help you, call 515-252-4698 or 800-833-4692.

What is assisted living like?

There is some variance in assisted living facilities. The facilities that are located in larger cities like Des Moines 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 Iowa?

According to data culled from Genworth’s 2016 Cost of Care Survey, the average cost of assisted living in Iowa is $42,210 per year, which is just below the average nationwide cost of $43,539. This price tag translates to a monthly cost of $3,518 and a daily cost of $116. 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 $48,048 for homemaker services and $52,624 for home health aide services. It also represents a substantial savings in comparison to Iowa’s nursing home care costs, which can break down to an annual cost of $66,430 for a semi-private room and $73,000 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 Iowa

The IDVA runs a vast array of programs to provide service and support to the state’s numerous vets. These programs include e-mail notifications on local services and events, specialized support programs, veteran housing help, and more. What’s more, Iowa is also home to several military-themed destinations and points of interest that may make for great day trips, a terrific assisted living field trip, or even an outing when the family comes into town. A lot of these destinations also welcome veterans to come in and volunteer, so they can share their stories and expertise with visitors, especially young people.

Located in the Des Moines suburb of Johnston, the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum displays various artifacts and exhibitions relating to Iowa veterans, stemming from the Mexican War of 1846 and carrying through to modern times. In the city of Red Oak, you’ll find the Burlington Northern Depot & WWII Memorial Museum. This fully restored train depot shines the spotlight on Iowans that had a hand in the Second World War, whether those people were active duty defending the flag or keeping things steady on the home front.