If you've taken responsibility for the daily care and personal needs of a spouse unable to perform these duties for him- or herself, you may be exhausted from your round-the-clock duties and anxious for a service that can provide you with some occasional respite. However, you may also assume you can't afford in-home nursing services and could be reluctant to relinquish care to an inpatient nursing facility. Fortunately, if your spouse is a veteran, he or she is entitled to certain in-home care services that shouldn't cost you much (if anything), and can allow your spouse to stay comfortably in his or her home rather than at a facility. Read on to learn more about the in-home care options available specifically for veterans of the armed forces.
For those with short-term, rehabilitable ailments:
If your spouse has an injury or medical condition that shouldn't require long-term care, but that does require occasional medical attention (like a surgical wound), you can enlist the assistance of a medical worker through the Skilled Home Health Care (SHHC) program. SHHC assistants can also provide some personal care (like bathing and dressing) as long as their primary duties in attending to your spouse remain medical. This service should be available at no cost, covered by your spouse's military benefits, and is similar to the short-term skilled nursing care available through the Medicare program.
You may be able to avoid the constant back-and-forth of doctor and specialist visits by taking advantage of the "telehealth" services available to your spouse. These services can allow your spouse's physicians to check vitals and monitor other conditions without seeing your spouse in person as frequently.
For those with more long-term nursing needs:
For respite care that can give you a much-needed break from an entirely physically dependent spouse, you can take advantage of Homemaker/Home Health Aide (H/HHA) services. These workers can provide the same level of personal care to your spouse as you do, and are available for brief periods while you run errands or for longer stretches of time if you need to travel cross-country to visit a relative or even go on vacation.
Because H/HHA workers aren't usually licensed nurses or medical personnel, the types of medical services they can perform are limited; if your spouse requires both personal and medical care, you'll need to request that the Veterans Administration coordinate care through both programs during the times you're not able to provide this care yourself. For more information, contact a local service like Neighbors Home Care Services.