It is a long road but an adventure! I have just submitted Dad's VA Aid and Attendance application and it took several months to get to this point. My advice is as follows: (1) ask yourself what's more important- dad's care or your inheritance? If you answer your inheritance, shame on you and report yourself to the elder abuse authority. If it's dad's care, spend the money wisely for the best care you can get him. I quit my 6-digit salary job and moved home to help him out nearly four years ago. I didn't quit realize at the time it would become my new full-time job and quite an education.
(2) Get a POA and Health Directive set up. I dove into all of his finances (including credit cards, insurances, social security, pensions, and taxes) to learn all that I could about them. I cancelled expenses he didn't really use or need (credit cards, magazine subscriptions, etc.)
(3) Learn about VA benefits, facilities, and services first-hand. Don't just read about them online...go down to the local facility. I enrolled him in the VA's Day Respite program (dad goes 3 days a week). I also got Dad signed up for the VA respite care program in which he stays one week, up to four times each year. I shared my caregiving burdens with other caregivers at the VA and got to know all the key players very well, especially the VA Social Worker.
(4) Get help before you mentally and physically lose it. When the rest of the time became too much for me to do alone, I hired caregivers through a reputable agency. Through that agency, I discovered the VA would pay for 6 hours every other week (it must be an agency in which the VA approves and works) for us.
(5) Find the VA Advocate in your area (ours works in a Financial Company). This person's services are free! This person can assist you in getting dad's assets in the right place to get the VA's A&A benefit. In our case, I also had to get a lawyer (specializing in Elder Law with knowledge of the VA and Medicare) to set up an irrevocable trust for Dad's house (to protect it from Medicare and the VA coming for reimbursement after Dad dies). I found the lawyer by going to a City Counsel on Aging board member.
(6) Follow their instructions and advice. If you're not sure about something, ask again. If something sounds "wrong," trust your gut and find another professional. We did have to spend assets to get within the "correct" income-to-health care-debt ratio--for us it was 5% more on caregiving/healthcare each month than dad's social security and pensions bring in. Remember that cashing in IRAs/bonds/etc. have income tax implications so plan accordingly.
(7) Be wise in how you spend those "extra" resources. I bought us a reliable car, a new safety/security screen door, did some "seniorizing" on the house (the VA provided ramps, rails, and bars) like remove carpeting and refinished the floors (to avoid tripping hazards), bought dad and electric razor and electric toothbrush, etc. I also did some landscaping work as dad loves the flowers and the birds that visit the feeders. We got him a bigger television as he loves to watch but his vision is going. We had to replace the water heater and the furnace (both nearly 50 years old) which in turn required a new electric panel to support them--all for dad's benefit. (We also were selected as a Rebuilding Together recipient through our county which helped tremendously by making dad's house safe.) The attorney was quite expensive, too.
(8) Enjoy your time with dad. Sadly it will be gone too soon and all you will have are memories and the satisfaction of knowing you did the very best you could for your daddy.
Please know that I am NOT a lawyer, VA specialist, or financial wizard. I am just a loving daughter with no income, an idiot, nowhere-to-be-found brother, and three small dogs. :)