Caregivers Guide To Respite Care

For caregivers who are absolutely exhausted because of the strains and rigors of caregiving, respite care is a godsend. And as I discuss respite care, there will be 3 things that I go over…what exactly is respite care, where to find it and how to pay for it.

What Is Respite Care?

Respite care is any service or program that will give a primary caregiver a temporary break…whether that break is a few hours or a few days…from the burdens of caregiving. It can take many different forms, some of which can be obtained for free and others that may cost a free.

But first, let me give you an idea as to the types of respite care that are available…

Video Overview of Finding Local Respite Care


Types of Respite Care

A Relative

This is the simplest solution, which is having a sibling or relative take over the caregiving duties for a specified period of time. This can be anything from a few hours so you can spend time with your family unhindered up to a week or so so you can go on a vacation without the constant worrying if everything is ok.

However, if you are reading this then this option is in all likelihood not available to you. But I do list it as the simplest option.

Stay In Touch Programs

These types of programs, which consist of volunteers that either make telephone reassurance calls or actually visit elderly residents, are designed to ease the social isolation of seniors living on their own.

They also assist caregivers in having another individual to “check in” on our loved ones to make sure they are ok.

Your local Office of the Aging or a local volunteer organization will normally run these types of programs.

Adult Day Carerespite care

If the person you are caring for doesn’t require constant attention that they would get in a nursing home, yet is also not steady enough to be left alone to care for themselves, then an adult day care center may be the answer for you.

You may even be able to arrange for free transportation to and from the facility, depending upon the facility.

I have previously written about Adult Day Care Centers (you can read the write-up by clicking here) so I won’t repeat things here but there are a few basic points I will go over…

  • By contacting your local Office of the Aging you may be able to find free adult day care centers in your area.
  • The Office of the Aging may help with the free transportation as well.

In addition, I would look into local charities and houses of worship to see if they have any type of day activities available that can give you a break.

In Home Respite Care

If not provided by a relative (see above) then this would be a home health care agency that comes in and assists you for a certain amount of the time during the day or the week.

I personally would recommend that you find such respite care through a Medicare-certified home health care agency.

I have laid out a tutorial for how to do this here as well as including information for how to find other local help and how to get Medicare to pay for most of the services offered.

Temporary Stay Respite Services

These will not be available in all areas, but if you can make this type of arrangement, it is a godsend for stressed out caregivers. This is how it works (at least in my area of the country, Suffolk County, NY).

Respite care services are available on a limited basis through the Office of the Aging with one nursing home in the county or in the home of the older relative being cared for. The person being cared for has to meet minimum requirements to require the care and then the maximum stay in the facility is 5-7 days over a 12-month period.

The program also offer “time off” periods, around 4 hours at a time, for caregivers as well.

Now, due to budgeting constraints i am not sure if this type of program applies to every Office of the Aging throughout the country, but my suggestion is to contact your local or state office and see what type of help they can send you.

Paying For Respite Care

Amazingly, many of the services above are actually free…yes, I said free. This applies to the “stay in touch” programs and most of the services offered by the Office of the Aging, like the adult day care centers (some of these may charge you a fee, but it is nominal).

Of course, not all of it is free. And here I am referring to bringing in a home health care agency or the temporary respite care services through a nursing home.

For the home health care agency, Medicare will cover 80% of the approved amount…the remaining 20% either being paid out-of-pocket or through your Medicare Supplemental Insurance Policy.

For the nursing home, that will need to be covered by Medicaid, as Medicare only provides limited coverage of facilities like nursing homes.

The best thing to do would be to call your local Office of the Aging to see if these programs are available in your area and if they are, contact a social worker at the facility you are attempting to get respite care from in order to find out the exact procedures to go about financially qualifying.

The reason I say this is that Medicaid is a joint Federal/State program…meaning there are 50 different sets of rules that apply and the information I give you may not necessarily be applicable to where you live.

So the best thing for you to do is get the information from a social worker. That social worker will be very familiar with the local rules and will be able to guide you in the right way.

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