Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Are You Aware of the VA Aid & Attendance Benefit?

If you are taking care of an elderly loved one who requires home care, then you are surely well aware of the financial difficulties that this care has the potential to cause. Paying for home care can become a burden, but there is a benefit offered by the Veterans Administration that many people are unaware of. It is called the Aid and Attendance benefit.
Considered as part of an "Improved Pension," this benefit allows Veterans and their spouses to receive additional funds if they are in need of senior care assistance. The VA defines this assistance as requiring "the regular attendance of another person to assist in eating, bathing, dressing, undressing, medication dosing, or taking care of the needs of nature." Qualification to receive the benefit requires a physician's statement that a Veteran or their spouse is in need of assistance and cannot function without aid.
This benefit is not only applicable to home care, as it is also available to Veterans and their spouses who are patients in nursing homes, are blind, or are living in an assisted living facility. Furthermore, this benefit is not related to injuries or compensation pertinent to active military activity, it is considered a pension benefit. Currently, Veterans are allowed up to $1,632 per month and their spouses are allowed up to $1,055 per month. Veteran and spousal care is allowed up to $1,949 per month, though these figures are subject to change.
To apply for the Aid and Attendance Pension benefit, individuals will need to fill out the proper forms. These include: Form 21-534 (for a surviving spouse), Form 21-526 (for a Veteran), a copy of DD-214, separation papers (if applicable), a medical evaluation, summary of current medical problems, net worth limitations, net income, and out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Although this may not be enough money to cover monthly senior care expenses, it is certain to be a welcome addition to the budgets of Veterans, their spouses, and their caretakers who were not aware that they are eligible for this benefit. Proper care is certainly worth the expense, but this benefit may make these expenses more manageable.
 For more information about the Aid and Attendance benefit, please visit

Is Socialization Important for the Elderly?

As a means of making connections with other people, maintaining a presence in the community, and building relationships, socialization is an important part of life. As children and teenagers, people experience a high degree of socialization through their schools, extra-curricular organizations, and other activities. But as individuals grow older, their levels of socialization may decline, due in part to a more hectic schedule and more numerous responsibilities. However, it is still important, and it can improve the quality of life for seniors immensely.
Elderly individuals need just as much social stimulation as younger generations, though it may be more difficult to obtain due to health conditions or transportation limitations. Below are a few great ways to help elderly loved ones get the socialization they need.
·         Join community initiatives. Oftentimes, community centers or other organizations will host events, such as dances, game nights, and other activities, for the senior members of the neighborhood. Getting involved in an active community is a wonderful way to continue socializing with people who share common interests.
·         Keep close ties with family. From joining family members for dinner to enjoying an outing in the park or to the mall, spending time with loved ones is a wonderful way to be social and invest in a family that cares.
·         Remain active in religious organizations. For elderly individuals who belong to a religious community, making time to attend services is a wonderful way to get out of the house and interact with others. Additionally, it is a great way to make friends and open the door to other socialization opportunities.
·         Volunteer for local charities. Organizations are often looking for volunteers, and many retired individuals have dedicated a great deal of their time and energy to helping causes they believe in. Additionally, charities can often work around transportation or health issues by allowing individuals to contribute from home or when they are able.
Socialization is an important part of all stages of life, but seniors often experience less social interaction than younger individuals. By maintaining a high level of activity and interacting with people regularly, seniors can continue to enjoy and improve their lives.

5 Signs of Short Term Memory Loss

Your elderly loved one has undoubtedly changed over the years, perhaps they are not as active or as healthy as they once were. For many individuals, Alzheimer's Disease, dementia, and Parkinson's disease are major concerns, and these illnesses and others often manifest themselves in the form of short term memory loss.
To help keep your elderly loved one as healthy and happy as possible, it is crucial that you pay close attention and catch short term memory loss right when it begins. The following are five signs that short term memory loss may be present.
  1. Decline in cognitive capabilities. Forgetting recent events or activities can be difficult to pinpoint at first, but this symptom of short term memory loss can quickly escalate and even cause dementia. Individuals with this symptom may have a difficult time planning or organizing, may forget to take their medicine, or may not pay bills on time.
  2. Speech confusion. When elderly individuals have a difficult time finding the right words, or mix up the meaning of common words, this may be a sign of short term memory loss.
  3. Changes in mood or personality. Individuals who suffer from short term memory loss may have the constant feeling that something is... off. This can prompt them to act in a different way than normal, and may cause anxiety or other distress.
  4. Disorientation. Though visiting a new place can be disorienting for anyone, it is something that most people can navigate. For individuals who have short term memory loss, coping with unfamiliar surroundings can be difficult because they may not remember how they arrived in this new place.
  5. Repetitiveness. Elderly individuals who suffer from short term memory loss may ask the same question several times, or repeatedly make the same observation.
Though there really is no cure for memory loss, mild cases can be treated. The key is to address the issue quickly, before it becomes too severe. By watching out for these five signs of memory loss, you may be able to pinpoint short term issues and have them treated quickly. Additionally, paying close attention to the behavior of your elderly loved one will also allow you to better care for their needs.

Healthy Nutrition for Seniors: How to Eat Well As You Age

Maintaining a well-balanced diet is important for good health at any age, but as your body gets older it becomes even more imperative that you give it the vitamins and nutrients it needs. By eating the right foods and sticking to a healthy meal plan, you can live longer, keep your mind sharp, and improve your overall wellbeing.
The key to eating well is knowing your body's needs, and those needs vary depending upon your metabolism, how active your lifestyle is, and the foods that you like to eat. Though you may need to force yourself to try new things while exploring a new, healthier diet, keeping an open mind may allow you to discover a new favorite meal that you never knew you would enjoy.
First and foremost, maintaining a steady caloric intake is important. Eating too many calories can result in weight gain, which can lead to many health issues that you certainly do not want to develop. The amount of calories you should consume depends largely upon your weight, lifestyle, and health goals. To determine how many calories you should eat per day, speak with your doctor.
Once you know how many calories you need to eat, you must choose healthy foods to consume them. Seniors should increase their intake of fiber and calcium, so be sure to include as many fresh veggies and dairy products in your meal plan as possible. Remember that calcium can also be gained from eating non-dairy foods, such as tofu and almonds, so pay close attention to nutrition facts to ensure that you are getting the right amounts of vitamins and minerals.
Additionally, you can also boost the amount of "good" fats, such as omega-3 and omega-6, that you consume. These fats can help reduce cholesterol levels and are present in some of the most delicious foods, including salmon and avocadoes.
Elderly individuals should also cut down on a few things, such as sodium and simple carbohydrates. Too much salt in your diet can lead to water retention and high blood pressure, while an excess amount of simple carbohydrates can cause an increase in blood sugar and weight gain.
Following a well-balanced diet is a wonderful way to enjoy your golden years. For more information about how to create a healthy diet, visit