How to Take a Short Break from Caregiving with Respite Care

respite care

What is respite care?

Respite care is when family caregivers get a break from caring for an older adult. It can take place in the home or at an assisted living or skilled nursing facility, usually for less than a month.

Here, we’ll focus on respite care services outside the home.


Why would caregivers use respite care services?

There are many situations where respite care can provide much-needed help to caregivers. For example:

  • You’re getting completely burned out and desperately need a break from caregiving.
  • You’re having a health crisis of your own and need some time to recover before resuming your caregiving duties.
  • You’re traveling to an important family event or going on a much-needed vacation.
  • Your older adult is recovering from a hospital stay and needs a high level of care before they can safely return home.
  • You’re thinking about moving your senior to a specific senior living community and want to try the place out before making a final decision.

In especially stressful situations, like Alzheimer’s or dementia care, regular respite breaks give you a chance to recharge your batteries. This helps you sustain caregiving over a long period of time (it really is a marathon!).


Where can you find respite care and what services are provided?

Short-term respite care stays are usually offered by assisted living or nursing facilities. Seniors move into a fully furnished room and can take advantage of all the community’s regular services and amenities.

Every community offers different amenities, but they’ll usually have:

  • Three meals a day
  • Medication management
  • Help with personal care needs such as bathing, dressing, toileting and grooming
  • 24 hour supervision and security
  • Laundry service & housekeeping
  • Activities, outings, and transportation


How much does it cost?

At assisted living communities, temporary respite stays can cost between $75 to $200 per day (based on 2012 data).

The cost really varies depending on your location and the level of care needed. It’s worth the time to check with local senior communities before you rule this out due to cost.


Is respite care covered by Medicare?

No, respite care is not covered by Medicare. However, some programs, like long-term care insurance policies, may cover some of the cost.

One exception is if the respite care is part of a hospice program. Under the Medicare hospice benefit, your senior can get respite care in an approved facility for up to five days at a time and Medicare will pay 95% of the approved amount.


Bottom line

Your sanity and overall health are important and worth a lot. Preventing long-term problems caused by stress and overwork is much cheaper (and less painful) than dealing with serious health consequences.

Using respite care is a great way to keep your senior at home longer while protecting you from the serious consequences of being constantly overwhelmed by caregiving responsibilities.


By DailyCaring Editorial Staff
Image: Meadowbrook Senior Living


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