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About Respite Care

About Respite Care

For those who are caring for their senior loved ones but who occasionally need a break, whether to take care of their own personal needs or to go out of town for a little while, respite care can be a great option. Respite care is a short-term solution that provides supervision for seniors as well as necessary medical care, help with hygiene needs such as bathing and dressing, and more. These services are typically provided outside of the home in a facility such as a nursing home, where the individual may have access to a private room or a shared accommodation.

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Respite Care: In Home vs. Facility

Respite Care: In Home vs. Facility

When it comes to providing quality home care for today’s seniors, it is no secret that it sometimes takes a village. As our senior loved ones begin to age and find they are no longer able to care for themselves in the way they once were, many times friends and family members need to step up and st...More

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Top Cities for Respite Care in the US


What Is Respite Care?

Respite Care Infographic

Sometimes called temporary care, respite care is a short-term care option intended to provide a break from normal routines for both caregivers and the individuals they support. Both can feel a degree of burnout from their time together, and respite care can provide each party the opportunity to recharge. In many cases, it also provides opportunities for those needing care to experience a different environment where they can interact socially with others.

Respite can last a few hours, a few days, or up to a week or longer depending on the situation and can occur on a regular or occasional schedule as needed. Services provided in a respite care setting can include the following:

  • Meals
  • Companionship
  • Attending appointments
  • Shopping
  • Housekeeping
  • Pet care
  • Mobility assistance
  • Medication reminders
  • Personal care
  • Nursing care

In skilled nursing settings, respite staff may also provide additional medical services.

Several different environments offer respite care, including home-based care, nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities, home health, and adult day care. Respite care may also be offered through a local religious organization or a community center. In a retirement community where participants have access to organized activities such as games and social events, individuals who require supportive services may use respite care there as a way to try out a living environment before making a permanent move there.

This type of care can be provided by volunteers, friends, neighbors, family members or paid staff. Some church groups or local aging councils offer structured programs that provide respite volunteers. Assistants with the proper credentials may also provide some in-home nursing services, including medication administration.

Respite Care vs. Adult Day Care

The main difference between respite care and adult day care is the setting. Community-based centers and group settings are where adult day care services are provided. Respite care can occur in any variety of care setting such as a nursing home, residential center or at home. Both respite and adult day care services can be provided for a few hours per day up to a period of several weeks or more. Unlike adult day care which is restricted to 4-12 hours per day, respite care can extend to overnight care and include 24-hour care. Many adult day care centers also offer daytime respite care.

Special Respite Resources

Because there is such a high demand for respite care, and the numbers are expected to continue to increase over the next several decades, there are helpful ways to quickly seek and obtain access to respite resources and care such as:

  • ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center - Search for local respite sources in your area
  • Senior Companions - matches volunteers age 55+ with seniors in need of help with daily living activities
  • Interfaith Caregivers, or Faith in Action - both are faith-based and provide respite care in many communities
  • Elder Helpers - Volunteers are prescreened and entered into a searchable database where families in need can search and seek a helper free of charge

    Respite Care Costs

    Although there are many options for respite care that include using volunteers, friends and family, inevitably there may be care needed from paid aides or nursing staff. The costs for respite care can vary widely because there are so many different types and durations of care needed. Proper costs are best determined on a case-by-case basis. Respite care costs are estimated to be similar to the specific services the individual is receiving at the time respite is needed. According to survey data compiled by CareScout in June 2017, the national average cost per day for care services are as follows:

    • $70 for Adult Day Care
    • $123 for Assisted Living Facility Care
    • $131 for Homemaker Services
    • $135 for Home Health Aide Services
    • $235-267 for Nursing Home Care

    These figures can give a general idea of the daily rates that respite might be. However, respite costs are still best determined when working out a specific care program with health or medical staff.

    Paying for Respite Care

    As with any elder care need, often times expenses are paid for out-of-pocket or by a combination of other methods such as Social Security, pensions, Veterans benefits, insurance, home equity, and various savings.

    Financial Help from Charities

    Local Alzheimer's Association chapters, Parkinson's Foundation, United Way and other community organizations offer respite care scholarships based on financial need, usually. Sometimes it is required that the individual not be receiving respite funds from other agencies, Medicaid, nor have a long-term care insurance policy eligible to cover the same costs. Some organizations provide grants for care. Used like a voucher, the grant funds can be redeemed for respite from pre-approved respite providers. Grants vary by organization and state but the typical value is between $400-$1200. Some organizations require a co-pay for a grant; in example a 10% copay would be $80 for a grant voucher for care valued at $800.

    Medicare and Medicaid

    Respite is not covered under Medicare, but depending on the state, Medicaid can be an option if the senior has a condition such as Alzheimer's, dementia, or Parkinson's, then Medicare for health insurance is more likely to cover such care. Medicaid will pay for respite services if certain criteria are met such as needing a nursing-home level of care. The individual's income and assets have to be below certain guidelines.

    Programs of All-Inclusive Aid for the Elderly (PACE) is a joint program between Medicare and Medicaid. It is designed to help 55+ adults stay in their homes instead of entering nursing home care. PACE programs might pay for all services covered by Medicare and Medicaid that are medically necessary for care, including:

    • Adult day care
    • Respite care
    • Nursing care
    • Home care
    • Activities, meals and exercise
    • Social Services
    • Other specialty medical care and therapies

    To discover more about PACE and see if it is offered in your location, you can visit the PACE website.

    Long-Term Care Insurance

    Long-term care insurance is a policy that is purchased through a private insurance company. Similar to health insurance policies, the price varies greatly depending on age, general health and amount of coverage needed. Coverage could be denied for people with pre-existing conditions such as Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease. Not all insurance will deny based on these conditions so it is important to explore different insurance companies.

    Aid and Attendance Benefit for Veterans

    According to the VA website, the Aid and Attendance benefit (A&A) benefit is a special benefit for war era veterans and their surviving spouses. It is a tax-free benefit designed to provide financial assistance to help cover the cost of long-term care in the home, in an assisted living facility or in a nursing home. This benefit is for those who require the regular attendance of another person or caregiver in at least two of the daily activities of living. An adult day care center falls into that category in most cases. To learn more about the eligibility requirements and to apply for these veteran benefits visit VeteransAid.org online.

    Private Funding

    In situations when costs aren't covered through other means, paying via private funds is an option. Sources of private funds for respite care include retirement accounts and 401Ks, savings accounts, annuities and insurance plans (including life settlements), trusts and stock market investments. Social Security can also be used as a means of paying for respite care and other long-term health care needs.

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