According to current research, veterans who have experienced combat and other military-connected traumas are at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other types dementia, as well as other memory-related illnesses. There is evidence this risk is due to traumatic brain injury (TBI), neurotoxin exposure, proximity to frequent explosions and gunfire, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Memory care is expensive and can pose a significant burden to aging veterans and their families.
However, The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides VA benefits for memory care, memory care facilities for veterans, and other government programs through the Veterans Health Administration to help support veterans with memory-related illness and dementia.
In this article:
The first step to accessing memory care funding for a veteran is to determine their VA eligibility and enrollment status and to outline needs.
With the median cost of memory care communities at $5,430 a month, according to A Place for Mom’s most recent community survey, it is essential for veterans and their families to understand how much money they may be eligible to receive through their military-connected status. The money available for memory care services through the VA varies greatly depending upon a veteran’s unique circumstances. A veteran’s service-connected disability rating, current financial status, discharge status, and more may play a role in the VA benefits and health care services provided. You can learn more by reading this Veterans Benefits Guide by A Place for Mom.
There are many ways to fund memory care if you are a veteran or their surviving spouse — from VA financial benefits, like pensions and the Aid and Attendance benefit, to specific VA health care programs and memory care facilities.
The VA offers financial benefits that can give eligible veterans and their surviving spouses money to pay for their needs into retirement. These benefits can assist military-connected people with the costs of memory care.
Some veterans may be eligible for monthly payments from the VA through the Veterans Pension program. However, eligible veterans must meet stringent guidelines to qualify for these payments. Generally, a veteran must meet wartime service and financial need requirements, but each situation is unique.
If a person is a surviving spouse of a wartime veteran, they may be eligible for similar monthly payments through the VA Survivors Pension. This pension offers support for eligible surviving spouses who meet financial requirements set by the U.S. Congress.
These programs give veterans and their surviving spouses additional financial support and increased flexibility when considering memory care options. In other words, this money may be used however the veteran or surviving spouse decides to use it, including at any private-pay memory care community of their choosing.
Veterans with 20 or more years of military service may be eligible for a military pension. Those who joined the military prior to 2018 and are eligible for a military pension will fall under the legacy High-3 System, which offers a lifetime monthly annuity. A military formula determines the monthly amount the veteran will receive. This amount can vary greatly and is calculated at 2.5% of the veteran’s highest 36 months of basic pay. Veterans can calculate what they’re eligible to receive with the Department of Defense’s High-3 Calculator.
The money from this lifetime monthly annuity may be spent however a veteran chooses to spend it, including covering for private-pay memory care at any community of their choice.
If a military retiree wants to learn more about this benefit, they will need to contact the appropriate organization for their branch of services, listed below:
Eligible veterans and surviving spouses may receive support through the VA Aid and Attendance benefit. It can provide supplemental income to a VA pension or a VA Survivors Pension to help pay for long-term care, including assisted living, memory care, nursing home care, or even in-home care. This extra income is actually earmarked to help pay for senior living and caregiving expenses.
The veteran or their surviving spouse must meet specific service, financial, and clinical requirements to receive this benefit. If the veteran qualifies, they can apply through the mail or in-person with the VA Form 21-2680. Take note of a few things before applying:
The VA health care programs offer distinct support to veterans with memory-related conditions and their caregivers. Each program has unique qualifications and benefits, so it’s important to research each one to identify the right fit.
The Veteran Directed Care program places veterans in control of their own health care services. It helps veterans continue to live at home and have more control in coordinating their care. In contrast with traditional veteran care models, VDC gives eligible veterans the freedom of choice. It lets the veteran decide how their budgeted funds are spent.
The veteran can easily adjust their health care team and services as their memory care needs progress, as well as choose which specialists and doctors are on their care team. However, this also means the veteran is responsible for hiring, managing, and evaluating workers. As memory conditions progress, this may become difficult for the veteran to manage independently. In that case, a caregiver with power of attorney may be able to help facilitate the veteran’s wishes.
VDC is only offered through select VA medical centers, so interested veterans should consult the Administration for Community Living’s list of participating VA medical centers.
As the marquee program for military-connected caregivers, PCAFC provides support to caregivers of veterans as long as the veteran and the caregiver meet the program’s guidelines. Through this program, a caregiver can be trained and paid to take care of a veteran with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. The veteran may name a primary family caregiver and up to two secondary family caregivers.
PCAFC provides caregivers with the following types of support and more:
The chosen caregiver must be an eligible family member or plan to live with the veteran on a full-time basis. The veteran must also meet the following criteria:
If both the veteran and their caregiver are eligible, they can apply online for PCAFC. The VA also offers additional family caregiver program options for those who may not qualify for PCAFC at this time.
As dementia progresses, a person may experience mobility issues and have trouble navigating their home. Mobility decline remains common with many types of dementia, according to the journal Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders. This can pose significant safety risks for those living at home. Luckily, this program addresses that need.
Generally speaking, veterans and military service members with a service-connected condition such as dementia can receive HISA funding for home modifications. HISA offers funds for medically necessary changes to a veteran’s primary residential structure.
The following are some examples of home modifications covered by HISA funds:
The veteran can submit a VA Form 10-0103 to start the application process. A completed application packet will include the following:
Those who rent should also obtain a signed and notarized written document from the property owner that details permission to alter the property.
If the veteran is approved for HISA funding, they may receive up to $6,800 from this program during their lifetime. That money may be used for one or many approved projects, depending upon their cost.
Once the veteran is enrolled, VA health care programs and services offer many options to assist senior veterans with Alzheimer’s or other dementia-related care.
Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.
VA benefit coverage and out-of-pocket costs may vary by program or service. Therefore, you should contact the VA for specifics. In short, VA health care for memory care-related needs offers many options to support a veteran with dementia as well as their caregivers.
As dementia progresses, it may become time to consider memory care outside of the home. A unique bond exists between American veterans, and many feel at home with their brothers and sisters-in-arms because of shared life experiences. In such cases, a veteran may choose to look at veteran memory care facilities, including State Veterans Homes and VA Community Living Centers. Eligible veterans may also choose to live in a private sector community through the Community Nursing Home option.
While many benefits and services for veterans come from the federal government, State Veterans Homes are managed by state governments. As a result, each state dictates different guidelines for eligibility and admission to their State Veterans Homes.
These memory care facilities for veterans typically provide a nursing-home style or dormitory-type residence. Some facilities even have an adult day program, so the veteran can socialize or receive care during the day and return home at night. These options help prevent caregiver burnout and promote a safe atmosphere for veterans with dementia.
Eligible veterans can participate in the State Home Per Diem Program, where the VA pays for the veterans care at State Veterans Homes on a per diem basis. Per diem rates are determined by a lengthy set of regulations and may vary based on individual situations.
Overall, State Veterans Homes offer veterans a sense of community and potentially a way to reduce memory care costs. The National Association of State Veterans Homes provides a helpful state veterans home directory organized by state.
VA Community Living Centers are essentially VA nursing homes. There are more than 100 CLCs in the country, each conveniently located on or near VA medical centers. Living areas in these communities can feel like home, as veterans may decorate their spaces, bring beloved pets, and invite family and friends to visit.
The social nature of a CLC helps prevent senior isolation. Also, CLCs offer residents assistance with ADLs along with medical care services. These services can be essential with lost mobility and the progression of dementia. Most importantly, some CLCs offer specialized care programs tailored specifically for veterans with dementia.
The veteran needs to be enrolled in VA health care to be considered for a CLC. Additionally, the veteran should be medically and psychiatrically stable to apply to a CLC. With these services in mind, it’s clear why CLCs remain a popular option for America’s senior veterans. Locate CLCs near you through the VA’s CLC location registry.
Veterans may prefer to live in senior living communities close to home and family. These Community Nursing Homes, which exist throughout the country, are private sector options for nursing home care. Unlike State Veterans Homes and CLCs, these communities are open to anyone. Some of these Community Nursing Homes may offer special care for veterans with dementia, though this depends heavily on location and availability.
Eligible veterans must meet specific guidelines for service-connected status, level of disability, and financial limits to qualify for Community Nursing Homes. Coverage of cost may vary. It’s important to understand that these communities may have waitlists, even if a veteran qualifies for the program.
With veterans at higher risk for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, it’s important to understand the many VA resources, benefits, and care options available to them.
If you or a loved one is currently facing a dementia diagnosis, reach out to the free, local Senior Living Advisors at A Place for Mom to learn more about veteran-friendly memory care options in your area, including home care and senior living communities.
Defense Financing and Accounting Service. (2022, February 10). Retired military.
Desmarais, P., Weidman, D., Wassef, A., Bruneau, M., Friedland, J., Bajsarowicz, P., Thibodeau, M., Herrmann, N., & Nguyen, Q. D. (2019, August 9). The interplay between post-traumatic stress disorder and dementia: a systemic review. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.
Fitzgerald, S. (2021, March 4). Agent orange associated with higher risk for dementia in study of Vietnam vets. NeurologyToday.
National Association of State Veterans Homes. (2022). Directory of state homes.
Tolea, M. I., Morris, J.C., & Galvin, J. E. (2017, January 1). Trajectory of mobility decline by type of dementia. Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders.
U.S. Department of Defense: Military Compensation. High-3 calculator.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Administration for Community Living. Veteran directed care (VDC). No Wrong Door.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Administration for Community Living. What is the veteran directed care program?No Wrong Door.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Administration for Community Living. (2021, November 16.) Veteran directed care program.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security: United States Coast Guard. U.S. coast guard pay & personnel center.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Accreditation search.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Apply for the program of comprehensive assistance for family caregivers.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2021, June 28). Community care.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, January 18). Eligibility for VA health care.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, February 8.) Home improvements and structural alterations (HISA).
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2021, July 19). How to apply for VA health care.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, February 4). Program of comprehensive assistance for family caregivers (PCAFC).
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2020, July 31). Program of comprehensive assistance for family caregivers final rule eligibility criteria for serious injury and in need of personal care services.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2021, October 20). State home per diem program.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2021, October 20). State veterans homes.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, January 12). The program of comprehensive assistance for family caregivers.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.VA community living center’s (CLC) facilities.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2021, November 23). VA pension benefits.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, January 14). VA survivors pension.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2019, May 17). Veterans transportation program (VTP).
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2020, June 10). What is adult day health care?
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2020, April 24.) What is a community living center?
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2020, June 10). What is a community nursing home?
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2020, June 10). What is home based primary care?
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2020, June 10). What is homemaker home health aide care?
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2020, January 29.) What is remote monitoring?
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2020, June 10). What is skilled home health care?
USA.gov. (2022, February 9). Military pay and pensions.
Veterans Navigator. (2019, May 18). Shared decision making – overview.
Weiner, M. W., Friedl, K. E., Pacifico, A., Chapmand, J. C., Jaffee, M. S., Little, D. M., Manley, G. T., McKee, A., Petersen, R. C., Pitman, R. K., Yaffe, K., Zetterberg, H., Obana, R., Bain, L. J., & Carrillo, M. (2013). Military risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.
The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical, legal or financial advice or create a professional relationship between A Place for Mom and the reader. Always seek the advice of your health care provider, attorney or financial advisor with respect to any particular matter and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of anything you have read on this site. Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does recommend or endorse the contents of the third-party sites.