Arbor Day – Love For Our Planet and Those We Hold Close

Arbor Day 2020

Arbor Day – it’s one of those holidays that we don’t take off work for, or exchange gifts. But for our planet, it’s one of the most important holidays of the year. The founder of Arbor Day, Julius Sterling Morton, had a passion for nature, and trees in particular. Originally from New York, Morton settled down in the Midwest, founding this holiday dedicated to trees in Nebraska, the same state A Place At Home was founded. It is estimated that one million trees were planted in Nebraska at the first Arbor Day celebration in 1872.

Impact on our Health and Environment

Trees have a major impact on our environment, and our health. Most people know that trees clean the air. But did you know that each year they remove over 46 million tons of air pollution, just in the United States? In the same amount of time, one mature tree will absorb more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In exchange, it releases oxygen. It’s no wonder then, that 20 percent of the earth’s oxygen overall is produced in the Amazon Rainforest. And trees don’t just affect our air quality. Studies have shown that just being able to see a tree significantly reduces stress levels and improves quality of life.

Impact on our Heart

Traditionally, people across the world celebrate Arbor Day by planting trees. Not just to be kind to the environment, but to honor loved ones who have passed away. It’s for this reason that Arbor Day, and the Arbor Day Foundation, is near and dear to our hearts. At A Place At Home, trees represent powerful meaning.  Like others, we think of trees as the symbol of the vitality of life, and those that came before us, and those that will carry on after we are gone. It stands for families and ancestors. It stands for strength, stability, and nourishment.

Rooted in Care

For every client we have been honored to care for that passes away, A Place At Home plants trees in their memory. Since 2014, A Place At Home franchise network has planted almost 2,000 trees. Memorials to our clients are growing in Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Superior National Forest, Chippewa National Forest, Custer-Gallatin National Forest, and Klamath National Forest. Each tree we plant reminds us of how grateful we are to have been touched by the lives of those families and clients.

If you’d like to celebrate this Arbor Day by planting a tree, why not go the extra mile and become a member of the Arbor Day Foundation. First time members get 10 trees free and you can sign up here.

If you or someone you know can benefit from extra support in the home, please reach out to us to see how we can help.

Veterans Benefits: Paying for Senior Care

When Mom or Dad reach retirement age and are in need of ongoing assisted living services from professional caretakers, it can sometimes be difficult to find the best way to pay for it. But for many seniors who are also veterans, spouses of veterans, or surviving spouses of veterans, the VA’s Aid & Attendance pension benefit can bridge the financial gap to make this kind of care more affordable.

Even though around one out of every four US seniors would likely qualify for the Aid & Assistance program, only around one in seven who qualify have actually claimed their benefits. There are two main reasons for this shortfall: lack of awareness that the program exists and being intimidated by the long, complex application process.

Who Can Qualify For The VA Aid & Assistance Program

Not all seniors or even all veterans can qualify for Aid & Assistance, but many do, and since the benefit is often around $2,000 per month, it’s well worthwhile to find out if you qualify.

To be eligible, all of the following must be true of the applicant:

  • Was honorably discharged from military service.
  • Served 90 or more days of continuous active duty, including at least one day during a time of war.
  • Meets the “countable family income” limits. This is the total monthly/annual income minus unreimbursed medical expenses and certain public benefit payments.
  • Has a medically documented need for assisted daily living, such as help eating, bathing, or getting dressed.
  • Any of the following are also true of the applicant: is 65 or older, is totally/permanently disabled, is currently a patient in a nursing home, or is currently receiving SSDI or SSI benefits.

The VA will also take account of the applicant’s total net worth. There is no specific rule here – it goes on a case-by-case basis. A home, car, and basic assets are not counted, but a high total asset value on non-essentials could bar approval for the program.

Navigating The Application Process

On average, it takes nine months from start to finish to gather all necessary documents, fill out all forms, apply, and finally, receive approval for Aid & Attendance benefits from the VA. The total list of necessary documentation is quite long, including such papers as veteran discharge originals, proof of assets and income, a physician’s note detailing what type of care the applicant needs, or the marriage certificate for a veteran’s spouse seeking benefits.

However, this process is well worth it if you ultimately get approved. Monthly benefits for single veterans has a maximum of $1,830 currently, while for a veteran plus his/her spouse, the maximum is $2,170 per month. Plus, you get reimbursed retroactively for the months you spent waiting for your application to be approved.

Also note that, if a veteran is approved for Aid & Attendance and then passes away, the application process for his surviving spouse is much shorter – around three months on average.

Let Us Help You

To learn more about the VA Aid & Assistance program, to find out if you or your loved one qualify, or for help and advice on wading through the application process, do not hesitate to contact A Place at Home today! We have in-depth knowledge of this program and of other possible means of securing financial assistance for veterans or for others in need of assisted living care.