NY Times: Aging Veterans Choosing Adult “Foster Care” as Nursing Home Alternative

With increasing options in health care for the aging population, some American war veterans who could live in nursing homes for free are choosing to use their own money to fund their stays in medical foster homes through the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Foster Home Program, reports a New York Times article

Since the program’s beginning in 2000, nearly 1,500 veterans have been placed with voluntary caregivers who receive monetary compensation from veterans for care they provide. Most veterans using the program, with an average age of 70, remain in their medical foster homes until they pass away, according to the article. 

The program was established to promote better better quality care of for veterans and currently operates in 36 states. 


The New York Times reports:

It costs a site about $260,000 a year to introduce the program; each site can serve up to 30 vets. The V.A. finances each place for two years, after which the program is expected to be self-sustaining, said Dr. Thomas Edes, national director of geriatrics and extended care operations at the V.A.

Though medical foster homes are intended to provide better care, not to reduce costs, they operate for half the cost of nursing homes. “It is quite likely that it will save V.A. money and taxpayer money and veterans’ money,” Dr. Edes national director of geriatrics and extended care operations at the V.A said.


Given the vulnerability of the older veteran population, the V.A. approval process is rigorous. Only one in 10 to 15 applicants are selected. People with no formal training can apply, however, and many with family caregiving experience do. Once a veteran is placed in a home, the V.A. provides training for tasks like cleaning wounds, managing incontinence and safely transporting the new residents.

Veterans pay $1,800 to $3,000 a month for care, depending on their medical needs, often using their combined V.A. and Social Security benefits. 

A national V.A. study measuring veterans’ satisfaction and costs won’t be completed until 2013 and 2015. But 30 percent of veterans who would qualify for V.A.-paid nursing homes choose instead to pay out of pocket for medical foster homes — evidence, Dr. Edes. said, that they prefer a home setting.

Read the full New York Times article

Written by Erin Hegarty