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Home care service offers alternative for veterans

Care provider David Andre, left, of Homewatch CareGivers, and World War II veteran Bruno Kisonas sit at the kitchen table in Kisonas' Westfield home. Kisonas said moving to a nursing home would mean giving up a lot of what is home to him. Reminder Publications photo by Sarah M. Corigliano
By Sarah M. Corigliano

Assistant Managing Editor

WESTFIELD For Bruno Kisonas, a few hours a day with care provider David Andre is the difference between living at home and living at a nursing home.

Kisonas is one of several veterans benefitting from a program called Veterans Salute, provided by West Springfield-based Homewatch CareGivers.

Kisonas, a World War II veteran, relies on a wheel chair to get around and lives by himself in the two-family house, which he owns on a quiet street in Westfield. He has a dog and a cat and has family members who live upstairs and visit him each day. One of his nephews even sleeps in a spare room in his apartment so someone is there at night if Kisonas needs anything.

Moving to nursing home care would mean giving up a lot of what is home to him, he said.

Kisonas said he is glad to have the care provided by Andre, and said just some of the things he would miss at a nursing home would be his nephew's wife's home cooking, frequent visits from family, his pets, and a lot of his Yankees baseball memorabilia.

Homewatch CareGivers is a business run by Judith and Peter Yaffe, providing in-home assistance to seniors and others who would otherwise not be able to care for themselves. The clients or their families pay for this service.

However, Judith Yaffe explained that many veterans and their surviving spouses are faced with the possibility of entering a nursing home and do not know they may qualify for Veterans Salute and remain in their own homes while being cared for.

Peter Yaffe explained that Homewatch CareGivers uses the services of a company that identifies veterans whose pensions and medical conditions will most likely make them eligible to qualify for Veterans Salute.

The services provided by Homewatch CareGivers/Veterans Salute are classified as non-reimbursable medical expenses, and can therefore be paid by the veterans's military pensions, specifically the Aid and Attendance pension program, Judith Yaffe explained.

In some cases, if a veteran makes a certain sum over the amount that would allow them to qualify for the benefit, Yaffe added that paying for a service from Homewatch CareGivers can qualify them for the service by lowering their income.

Yaffe explained that veterans's pensions are still issued to them they then pay for the services from that money. The services provided include assisting with bathroom activities such as baths, showers, dental care and more; combing and setting hair; nail and skin care; assist in dressing and undressing, turning and positioning and light exercise; help with getting up and going to bed; transfers to and from a wheelchair, assisting with cane or crutches; assist with feeding; taking walks or driving the client on errands, family gatherings, appointments or special occassions; reminding client to take medication.

In addition to the care above, care providers do light housework, provide companionship for clients, prepare meals, go shopping and more.

Plus, Yaffe said, many of the care providers and clients become friends and visit when they're not working.

There are certain factors which determine eligibility for the Veterans Salute program, but Judith and Peter Yaffe use Veterans Administration-compliant software and can assist veterans, their surviving spouses and families with the application process.

For more information, call Homewatch CareGivers at 785-1111, 800-690-8550 or e-mail