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Respite Care Rx

You're not a horrible person for needing a break from caregiving. Learn about the types of respite care, how to pay for respite care and how to plan ahead.

There’s always another appointment, another errand, another issue that needs to be taken care of for Dad. And it’s all on top of everything else I’m doing at home and at work. I feel like I’m spinning too many plates, 24/7. If I could just get a break, I’d be OK.

A pause. Relief. Some breathing room. Sound like something you could use?

Don’t worry – you’re not a horrible person for needing a break from caregiving. What you’re doing is hard. You should take a break. You need time to rest, relax and rejuvenate yourself so that you can come back to caregiving with energy and a healthy mindset. You’ll be better for it – and that means your parent will be, too.

So go ahead, start planning a vacation, stay-cation, retreat or weekend getaway. Here’s what you need to know about finding respite care so you can take that pause, guilt-free.

Types of Respite Care

Respite services can be in-home or out-of-home. You can find in-home respite through home health agencies, friends or other family members, or with volunteers. In-home respite can include help with personal care, such as dressing, feeding, grooming, bathing, etc. You can also find skilled home health care providers for medical assistance, or companions to spend time with your parent while you’re gone.

As the name implies, out-of-home respite provides care somewhere other than your loved one’s home. You can arrange for this type of care in a couple of ways. One is at an adult day center, where care is provided only during the day. Typically, there will be activities, some form of physical exercise and a midday meal. Staff also helps with medications and some activities of daily living, if necessary.

You can also find help through a residential respite care program at a senior living community. Many senior living communities offer half-day, full-day, overnight or extended respite stays in furnished rooms. Not only are all meals provided, but your loved one will also have access to a wider range of activities and amenities, and they’ll have a caregiver close by, 24/7. It’s also a good way to check out a community to see what they offer and to evaluate the kind of care available.

Paying for Respite Care

Respite care costs will vary, depending on the type and amount of care needed. Most respite care is paid for out-of-pocket, but there may be some options to help with the cost:

  • Long-term care insurance policies may pay for some services.
  • Regular health insurance typically only covers respite care if the providers are licensed medical professionals.
  • VA benefits may pay for up to 30 days per year for those who qualify.
  • Medicaid doesn’t cover respite directly, but some states have waivers to help offset the costs.

Planning Ahead

To make sure you’re taking good care of yourself, try to schedule regular respite breaks throughout the year. This lets you research your options and secure care well ahead of time.

You may need to find respite care due to an emergency – say, if you have a health crisis or some other immediate situation to deal with. Emergency respite can be hard to find, so doing your homework and getting familiar with providers now will give you a head start when you need it.

Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone in your care is to take care of yourself. Start researching your respite care options, and check out area senior living communities to learn more about available programs and opportunities. Then plan a meaningful pause in your caregiving – you’ll be glad you did.

Where You Live Matters is powered by the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA), a respected voice in the senior housing industry. ASHA primarily focuses on legislative and regulatory advocacy, research, and educational opportunities and networking for senior living executives, so they can better understand the needs of older adults across the country.

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