They are not married but have lived together for at least 20 years; however, California (where they live) does not typically recognize common-law marriages, from what I read. He refuses to take her to his doctor appointments at the V.A. (where she might nudge the doctor about it). He does not think he has any problems with anything. She has tried to phone the social worker at the V.A., but I believe he suggested she attend the doctor appointment with him, which isn't possible. She has left messages at the V.A. but no one calls back. I suspect that the privacy regulations will not allow anyone to discuss this with her, as she's not a legal spouse. I know the V.A. has programs and help for dementia patients, but I can't imagine how she'd get help. Her partner is certainly not going to ask for it. They also have a trust to handle their finances, house they own, etc. They are both about 70 years old. Any advice I can give her about what to do would be most appreciated.

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Patooski, I'm sorry to learn that you've had so much difficulty with the VA. Initially, I thought it was difficult to deal with the VA, not because of the poor attitude of staff but because of the complexity of the organizational methods.

After spending some time figuring out to navigate the VA, and recognizing that they have challenging and demanding jobs and work with people whose conditions are often far more serious than we civilians could ever imagine, I treat them with a lot of respect and courtesy, and have received that in return.

If someone has a negative attitude, it's reflected in voice and tone. Perhaps the VA staff sense that.

It's NOT a BS racket. Give them another try, and add a lot of courtesy, appreciation and respect for the challenging jobs they have and the work they do.
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My experience with the VA is that it is nothing but roadblocks. Horrible.
I could not even make an appnt for my boyfriend of 15 years. Just an appnt. I had to be authorized. So do consider getting that.
You can never get a person to talk to, no one ever answers the phone, they only use their first names and don't give you their extensions so you have no way to call them back. If you finally do get through they pass you off to someone else - no work required.... and they treat you like crap.We have received calls that where the "nurse" is so rude. Says things like -Well I hear you have no more pain clinic - in a real snotty voice. He is not an addict or abuser - he needs strong pain meds to be able to function. His nerve damage is a result of VA operation but he can get nowhere and now they are cutting off his pain meds. His Pain Clinic is closing - Choice let him go there. The Opioed hysteria had the desired affect I guess. Now what is he supposed to do? 
The VA hates the Choice program and are always trying to fight it - don't think you will get any co-operation there. The VA wants you back. Could it be for the money?
Well this is just my experience. I tried to get my Dad Veterans Aid and Attendance. He was low income and needed so much. Fiasco - no good. They want a predictable expense like a Nursing home, and even then - so weird and all different answers depending who you talked to. And took forever. So much work for nothing - all the forms, the detailed expenses - wait months... all for nothing.
I have given up on the VA. But my boyfriend who is Viet Nam Vet, still has faith in them. I think it's all a BS racket. I'm talking about NY VA and Tucson AZ VA.
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If she knows who his VA primary doctor is, and what team he/she's on, she can call that doctor and ask to speak with the social worker affiliated with that team. Although the SW probably couldn't speak with her specifically about her SO, the SW could give her general, generic type advice on what her options might be.

The VA has been reaching out more to Veterans suffering from post service issues. Even though they're in their 70s, it's possible that the dementia is service connected. She might want to ask the SW about that as well, or contact one of the governmental state or county service officers to get more information on what might be able to do.

The VA has its own form of POA, but her SO would have to sign it, and it doesn't sounds as if he would do that.

There's also a Caregiver Support section of the VA. I learned about it from the SW. If your friend can't get info on it, post back and I'll look up the info I have.
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send letter to Dr Dr can listen to what u have to say
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Dear Mary,

Good of you to help your friend. I wonder if she might consult with an elder law attorney or even social worker to explore all her options. I would try calling back the office and see if she could talk to someone else as well.

California Department of Veterans Affairs
Veterans affairs department in Oakland, California
Address: 1301 Clay St #1130n, Oakland, CA 94612, USA
Phone: +1 510-286-0627
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