How Veterans Care Coordination and Other Organizations Help Senior Servicemembers Age Comfortably at Home

How Veterans Care Coordination and Other Organizations Help Senior Servicemembers Age Comfortably at Home

When it comes to home care services for senior veterans, there are options. Veterans Care Coordination (VCC), founded by Kyle Laramie, is a company that assists senior servicemembers, their families, and surviving spouses in navigating the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs application process, which can result in reimbursement for home care. Oftentimes, VCC will front the cost of home care while the applicant awaits approval from the VA. This enables qualifying seniors to receive home care in a much faster manner.

For seniors, aging at home contributes to better health outcomes and a higher level of independence. VCC has received countless positive reviews and testimonials from veterans who rely on in-home support.

In 2019, the VA established an initiative to keep older veterans like 92-year-old World War II veteran Gerald Bennett in their homes by pairing them with volunteer companions. This program is designed to assist with everyday tasks and combat loneliness.

Gerald Bennett, residing in a senior-focused San Antonio apartment community, cherishes his independence. Despite considering assisted living, Bennett prefers the autonomy of his own home, stating that he doesn’t require the extensive support often associated with such facilities. However, the absence of his late wife and the distance from his children can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation.

Enter Gloria Estrello, a 70-year-old volunteer from the same apartment complex, who has become an indispensable part of Bennett’s life. Their companionship began in early 2019, providing Bennett not only with help in cooking and cleaning but also with a friend to share conversations and activities, like card games. Estrello’s presence also offers peace of mind to Bennett’s daughter, Carol Lillegard, who resides in Vermont and appreciates the regular updates and attentive care her father receives.

This arrangement is part of the Choose Home Senior Corps program, a pilot project launched in five cities by the Department of Veterans Affairs in collaboration with the Corporation For National and Community Service. With a $2 million investment, the program aims to recruit and train volunteers over 55 to assist in the homes of veterans, enhancing their quality of life and allowing them to age in place comfortably.

The program not only provides essential companionship but also alleviates the physical and emotional burdens on family caregivers, often preventing premature institutionalization. Kelley Gallant, who oversees the program’s volunteers in San Antonio, emphasizes the critical role of social interaction in maintaining the health and well-being of the elderly.

The initiative reflects a broader effort by the VA to address the growing need for long-term care among the aging veteran population, which is increasingly preferring to live out their later years at home. With nursing home costs rising significantly, programs like Choose Home are seen as cost-effective and respectful ways to honor veterans’ preferences.

VA Undersecretary Teresa Boyd has highlighted to Congress the urgent need for expanding home-based care services, pointing out the cost advantages and quality improvements possible in such settings.

As the program gains momentum, with demands for volunteers already outstripping supply in cities like San Antonio, there is hope for expansion. The success of the Choose Home Senior Corps could pave the way for a new standard in caring for America’s aging veterans, providing them with the dignity, respect, and support they deserve in their own homes.