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Respite Care: 6 Reliable Resources for Caregivers

Merritt Whitley
By Merritt WhitleyJune 4, 2020

Everyone’s caregiving story is different. But what many caregivers share is the need for help and relief from time to time to ensure their overall well-being.  

Respite care is a way to help prevent caregiver fatigue and burnout while maintaining a high quality of life for your loved one.

“You can’t pour from an empty cup, and respite care can be a gift to everyone involved,” says Brenda Gurung, a senior national account manager at A Place for Mom. “It’s an opportunity for the family caregiver to rejuvenate, and for a senior to spread their wings in a new setting of care, support, and empowerment.”

It’s a good idea to learn about or even “try out” respite care before an unexpected crisis, she adds. This way, caregivers and their senior family member know they have a trusted option for care in case of an emergency.

What is respite care?

Respite care is temporary relief of caregiving duties. While someone else cares for your elder family member, you can travel, run errands, visit friends, go to the doctor, or simply relax. In senior communities, respite care may also be called short-term care or short-term assisted living.

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Respite care assists with activities of daily living like bathing, eating, drinking, and making sure medication is taken. 

How do I find respite care?

Finding respite care is often one click or phone call away. There are many volunteer organizations, state resources, support groups, and senior living options that can provide care. Here are six resources to help you find information about respite care in your area.

1. State agencies and respite care resources

It’s usually best to begin looking for local respite care resources through your local Area Agency on Aging.

The National Respite Network and Resource Center has an interactive map of respite care funding and support by state. Click on your state to find respite care.

To find more state-based resources, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Aging Resources. Several examples of state resources include:

2. Volunteer organizations

Many people love to work with seniors by volunteering through local and national organizations. Here are a few organizations that can provide a helping hand.

National organizations with respite care volunteers

Elder Helpers: This nationwide organization with 30,000 helpers matches you with volunteers in your community. Elder Helpers recruits, screens, and trains volunteers to provide respite care and other assistance for seniors. Find volunteers in your area by using your ZIP code.

Senior Corps: Volunteers with Senior Corp’s Senior Companions program are individuals 55 years and older who provide care and companionship. They’re trained by the organization and assist older adults who struggle to shop or pay bills. To find a program in your community, visit their site or call their national service hotline at (800) 942-2677.

Religious-based volunteers: Additional sources for community volunteers may include churches, mosques, synagogues, and other faith-based groups.

3. Government benefits such as Medicare and the VA

Medicare covers respite care for hospice patients. Veterans, meanwhile, can obtain financial assistance from the VA for respite care. Learn more about the qualifications, the care included, and who to contact below.

Medicare covers hospice respite care

If you’re a caregiver for a loved one receiving hospice care through Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance), Medicare will pay for short-term inpatient respite care in a Medicare-approved facility such as a hospice facility, hospital, or skilled nursing residence. You may need to pay a copayment of $5 for each prescription drug, as well as 5% of the Medicare-approved amount for inpatient respite care.

You can get respite care more than once for up to five days at a time — but only on an “occasional basis,” according to Medicare’s website. Medicare doesn’t typically pay for respite care unless the patient is in hospice. Visit Medicare.gov for more information.

VA respite care benefit

Military veterans may be eligible for Veterans Administration (VA) respite care, which can assist families with short-term care.

  1. Care at home or at an adult day care
    Respite care can be given to a veteran at home, or at an adult day care, and is available for six hours at a time.
  2. Care in nursing homes
    Respite care may be available for up to 30 days per calendar year, and it can be used all at once or when needed at different times. Home health aide visits up to six hours count as one day of respite care in the calendar year total.

To find out if you or your loved one is eligible for VA respite care, contact the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs at (844) 698-2311 or find a location near you.

4. Support groups for caregivers

Fellow caregivers are excellent sources for finding senior respite care in your community. To network and discover how other caregivers recharge, check out these 24 online and in-person caregiver support groups.

5. Find respite support at adult day cares

Adult day care is also another option for temporary care and relief. It generally costs around $75 per day and provides supervision, activities, and personal care to seniors. Although its hours are more limited than respite care, adult day care can be a helpful option for families who provide full-time care to seniors at home.

To learn more about adult day care centers and programs, contact the National Adult Day Services Association at (877) 745-1440, or visit their national website.

6. Senior living communities offer respite care

Did you know that some senior living communities provide respite care? Many people don’t realize how many communities near them offer this service, but they can help provide a plan of relief for you.

How much does respite care cost in assisted living?

“It’s common for senior living communities to offer daily flat fees, though some will create customized pricing based on services and clinical support,” says Gurung. Respite care rates typically range from $150-$200 a day, with higher rates for specialized stays in memory care.

What does assisted living respite care include?

Senior living communities with successful respite care programs often create a comprehensive plan to help ensure the best care for their short-term resident. They aim to:

  • Get to know the resident quickly by learning about their medical and personal needs.
  • Determine what gives them purpose by finding out what ignites and brings them joy.
  • Build relationships with others by introducing them to other residents and inviting them to participate in activities. (Due to the coronavirus, communities have implemented creative activities that allow for proper social distancing.)

If your loved one is considering a permanent move to a senior living community and wants to try respite care first, Gurung recommends a stay of three to four weeks. This length of time gives seniors and their caregivers a chance to settle into the new routine.

Find senior respite care near you

Contact our Senior Living Advisors to learn more about senior living communities that provide respite care to families and caregivers.

Merritt Whitley
Author
Merritt Whitley

Merritt Whitely is an editor at A Place for Mom. She developed health content for seniors at Hearing Charities of America and the National Hearing Aid Project. She’s also managed multiple print publications, blogs, and social media channels for seniors as the marketing manager at Sertoma, Inc.

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