Family caregivers can easily become overwhelmed by responsibilities. If you are feeling exhausted, respite care professionals may be able to help you cope.
What is respite care?
Broadly, respite care provides breaks to family members who give unpaid care to loved ones. These breaks can range from a few hours to a few days.
Respite care is something that may or may not be covered by insurance; if it is covered, that coverage can vary greatly from plan to plan. With Medicare, for example, respite care is available only to individuals who are in hospice. The cost to a Medicare recipient is 5% of the amount that Medicare allows for respite care. So, if Medicare covers $100 per day, the recipient pays $5 for each day of respite care. Some states also have programs that help to cover the cost of respite care.
There are many organizations that offer respite care. Your local Area Agency on Aging can likely provide you with a resource list.
What forms of respite care are available?
There are four forms of respite care:
- In-home respite
This type of respite care allows a family caregiver to go away for a few hours or days while a hired caregiver takes his or her place.
- Facility care
With this option, the loved one is taken to a facility that provides necessary care.
- Emergency care
This type of respite care allows caregivers to set up emergency plans in case the need for respite arises suddenly.
- Adult day care
This type of care can be similar to facility care, although unlike facility care it is available only during specified business hours. Adult day care can be geared either to address health issues or to enhance socialization.
What if respite care is too expensive?
The above options all involve using paid, professional individuals or services. As mentioned previously, check with your insurance company and with state government agencies to see if some respite care expenses can be covered.
Respite care can also be provided on an “amateur” basis by friends, family members, or volunteers from local community or religious organizations. This is sometimes the best option, especially in terms of cost; however, it is important that non-professionals are well aware of your loved one’s requirements.