How to find it, pay for it, etc.
Full-time caregiving is a 24-hour job. Caregivers often manage the care of a loved one along with work, other family responsibilities, their own health, home maintenance, and more.
Respite care is care designed to provide short-term respite to live-in caregivers. Whether that break lasts for hours or weeks, respite care can help caregivers get to appointments, run errands, work outside the home, or just take time to relax. and recharge.
Respite care helps provide a break for live-in caregivers, including family members or professionals. Caregivers may need respite care just long enough to run important errands, or they may need help caring for loved ones while they’re out of town for several days or weeks.
Arrangements for respite care are made in advance by the family caregiver and the respite care professional. Respite care can take many forms. It can be provided by:
- family and friends
- home care agencies
- some nursing and assisted living facilities
- adult day centers
- personal support professionals
Respite care services
The exact services you will receive with respite care depend on your needs and circumstances. Generally, respite care professionals are responsible for ensuring the safety and health of the person in their care. Depending on the client, this may include:
- Help with household chores. Respite care professionals who visit clients in their homes can help with daily tasks, such as laundry and meal preparation.
- Assistance with dressing and bathing. Respite care professionals can help clients with bathing, dressing, bathroom use and other essential daily tasks.
- Transportation to medical appointments. Respite care services can ensure clients get to all medical appointments safely and on time.
- General medical care. Respite care professionals won’t be able to provide hospital-level care, but they will be able to help with medications, check wounds, and perform other basic medical care. Some respite care professionals can deal with more medically complex clients.
- Camaraderie. Respite care professionals can keep clients company and ensure they are well cared for.
There are several types of respite care to fit different situations and meet different needs. The most common types of respite care are described below.
Informal respite care
Informal respite care is care provided by friends or family members. It’s often a great solution for errands or casual get-togethers, especially if you have trusted loved ones who live nearby.
Adult day services
Adult day services are great options for seniors who enjoy spending time away from home. Adult day services are offered in places like seniors’ centers and churches. These services provide the opportunity for seniors to have socialization as well as supervision and medical care. They can allow you to work or complete necessary tasks during the day.
Home care comes to you. You can find in-home respite care for temporary situations or establish a regular schedule with an in-home helper. You can find in-home respite care through home care agencies or by searching for individual caregivers.
Residential care is respite care in a seniors’ community, such as a nursing home or assisted living facility. This type of support allows overnight stays and can last several weeks. You can use this type of respite care if you are out of town or need a longer break.
One of the main reasons for respite care is to help reduce caregiver burnout. Caring for a loved one full time is a big responsibility. Many family caregivers are happy to care for someone who is such an important part of their life, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be stressful.
In fact, caregiver burnout is incredibly common. Family caregivers often find themselves overwhelmed, frustrated and anxious. Over time, this can harm the caregiver’s health.
Respite care is a great way to take a step back and catch your breath. It can help you relax and alleviate some of the symptoms of burnout. When you know your loved one is cared for in a safe environment, even for a few hours, it’s one less thing to juggle. It can make a significant difference in your overall mental and physical well-being.
In addition to reducing general burnout, there are several situations in which respite care can help. These include the case where the primary caregiver:
- work outside the home
- has out-of-town obligations
- has a vacation planned
- has a major medical procedure coming up
- showed signs of severe burnout
The cost of respite care depends on many factors, such as:
- the type of respite care you choose
- your insurance
- Your location
For example, home care and assisted living
- Informal respite. Informal respite with friends and family is normally a free or inexpensive way to arrange respite care.
- Medicaid. Medicaid does not cover respite care as a standard benefit. However, many states offer a Medicaid waiver program that includes coverage for respite care. You can use this locator to find your state’s Medicaid office.
- Benefits for veterans. If you receive a VA pension, you may also be eligible for a benefit called Aid and Attendance which can be used for respite care. Many VA facilities also offer up to 30 days of respite care or eligible veterans.
- Long term care insurance. You can usually use your long term care insurance policy to pay for respite care. However, this varies by policy, so it’s best to call your insurance company and check.
- Degressive adult day services. Many adult services, especially those offered by community senior centers, nonprofits, or churches, offer scalable payment options. Some day care providers employ social workers or financial advisors who can help you find ways to cover the cost of respite care.
Choosing the right respite care professional can be difficult. Many family caregivers are anxious about leaving loved ones with an unfamiliar person or in an unfamiliar place. It’s a good idea to take your time and choose an institution or professional with whom you feel comfortable.
If they can, it’s a good idea to involve your loved one in the interview process. Ideally, they can talk to any potential respite care professional and ask their own questions. After the interview, you can discuss with your loved one and get their feedback before making your final choice.
If you are choosing an adult day care or residential care facility, it is a good idea to ask for:
- What is the training of your staff?
- Do you have nurses or other healthcare professionals on staff?
- What security procedures are in place?
- Are daily activities offered?
- Can you provide meals and snacks that meet my loved one’s dietary needs?
There are several ways to find respite care. If you know any friends or family members who might be able to provide care, they might be the best place to start. Otherwise, you can use these resources:
- Elder care locator. The Aged Care Locator will connect you with your local agency on aging. Your local aging agency can help you get respite care, find adult day services, and get supper from other caregivers.
- ARCH National Respite Network. The ARCH Respite Network can connect you with respite services in your community.
- National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA). NADSA is a directory of adult day services across the country that you can use to find care in your community.
Respite care can help full-time family caregivers take a break. It’s a great way for caregivers to work, run important errands, travel, and reduce the impact of caregiver burnout.
You can find respite care through family and friends, home care professionals, adult day services, and resident care facilities. Respite care is not usually covered by insurance, but there are resources available to help pay for care.