Veterans Benefits for Alzheimer's and Dementia Care


Below are some commonly asked questions and answers regarding benefits for veterans with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

Question: My father is a veteran of World War II and has now been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. What services does the VA provide for persons with dementia, and how do we apply for them?

Answer: Eligible veterans with dementia who seek care from the VA can participate in the full range of health care services including in-home care, community-based, outpatient, inpatient acute and long-term care services.

This may include:

  • Home-based primary care, such as homemaker/home health aide services, respite care, adult day health care, outpatient clinical care, inpatient hospital care, nursing home, or hospice care.
  • In addition to general care for veterans with Alzheimer's or dementia in VA outpatient and inpatient settings, some VA facilities have developed specialized dementia care programs such as outpatient dementia clinics and inpatient memory care units.

There are no separate VA eligibility criteria for veterans with dementia. The standard eligibility criteria and application process should be followed.

  • Enroll the veteran for VA medical services. Call the Veterans Health Administration toll-free at 1-877-222-VETS (1-877-222-8387), complete an online enrollment application form, or call your nearest VA Medical Center or VA Community-Based Outpatient Clinic and ask for an enrollment coordinator.
  • Talk with a patient care coordinator (usually a social worker) at the VA facility of your choice to determine what services are appropriate and available for your situation. Depending on the enrolled veteran's priority group, there may be a co-payment requirement for certain services. The care coordinator can discuss options, help you find what you need, and explain any co-payment requirements. The prescription benefit is not separate from medical care. The veteran must be seen by a VA or VA-authorized physician to receive medication from a VA pharmacy. There are prescription co-pays, depending on the veteran's priority group and income.

State Veterans Homes are another option for care. These homes are owned and operated by individual states, which establish admission criteria and may charge veterans for their care. They may provide a variety of extended care services, including adult day health care, domiciliary, and nursing home care.

The VA pays part of the daily costs of care (per diem) for veterans admitted to a State Veterans Home, not to exceed 50 percent of the State's costs. Application for admission to a State Veterans Home is made directly to the State. The veteran need not be enrolled in the VA health care system in order to access State Veterans Home services but must be eligible to obtain VA per diem payments. Contact your State Department of Veterans Affairs for more information on the State Veterans Home program, including residency and other admission requirements, as well as any specialized services for Alzheimer's or dementia care. A list of State Veterans Homes is also available from the National Association of State Veterans Homes.

Question: My mother is the widow of a World War II veteran, and she has Alzheimer's disease. Does the VA offer nursing home care or other services for her?

Answer: VA health benefits are for veterans, not for non-veteran spouses. However, there are other programs that might be relevant to your mother's situation. Check the following program with the following programs for more information:

  • VA Non-Medical Benefits 1 (800) 827-1000.
  • CHAMPVA and CHAMPVA for LIFE (CFL) healthcare benefits for dependents and spouses of certain veterans
  • TRICARE and TRICARE for Life (TFL) healthcare benefits for military retirees, their families and survivors
  • VA Medical Center locations and phone numbers
  • State Veterans Home Program: State Veterans Homes are owned and operated by individual states. States establish admission criteria and may charge for care provided. They may provide a variety of extended care services, including adult day health care, domiciliary, and nursing home care. Some of these homes admit spouses of veterans, although neither the VA nor the states provide funding for such non-veteran family members. Thus, your mother would need to pay privately. Applications for admission to a State Veterans Home are made directly to the State.
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Good point arose4yu,

I work on a blog about eldercare and in-home care. VA benefits are some of the best out there from a long-term or in-home care perspective. But as you said, it is important to ask about Aid and Attendance benefits.

i am so upset because you are not considered a vet unless you fought in a war, well, the ones that signed up and put their time in with war or not, should be also considered a vet, they served their country also am i not right?? i think this is so unfair, anyone that signed up should be considered a vet?? war or no war??
My husband was in WWII between 1941 and 1945. He worked stateside and never saw combat. When he got dementia, I started looking for help from the VA only to be denied any kind of help because we didn't pass the means test. Short after I had to place him in a memory care home, I discovered online that the VA has a benefit called Catastrophically Disabled and any veteran who qualifies is moved from Priority 8 to Priority 4 where he is entitled to noninstitutionalized care, no copays for inpatient, outpatient or medication and partial copayment for nursing or memory care homes. The veteran qualifies if he needs help with three or more activities of daily living and/or has a score of 10 or less on the Folstein Mini-Mental State Examination. His condition must be certified by a VA physician. This is well-kept secret apparently because even the VA office and his VA doctor didn't tell me about it. Do an Internet search for it specifically and you'll find the information you need. I found out too late to get help, but maybe others can benefit from my loss.