1. No matter how loving and patient an adult caregiver may be, no one can be solely responsible for another person’s care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. When you need a break, it’s time to look into finding respite care for your loved one.

    What is Respite Care?

    Respite means a reprieve, a pause or a suspension. Respite care means finding another person or entity to take over the care of your loved one while you take a rest. Respite care may last for a few days while you go on vacation or handle an illness or injury of your own, to a few hours while you run errands, read a book or take a nap. Depending on your needs, there are many different types of respite care available.

    Friend and Family Caregivers

    Cost: Nominal or free

    Pros: The price is certainly right, and friend and family caregivers may be more familiar and acceptable to your loved one than a stranger coming in to provide care.

    Cons: Friends and family may not be up to the task if your loved one requires complex or heavy care. Its also important to keep the communication lines open so you feel adequately supported and your friends and family don’t feel taken advantage of.

    Paid Caregivers

    Cost: Anywhere from $15 to $25 per hour, depending on where you live and how much care is needed. The cost of this kind of respite care may be partially covered by Medicaid, long term care insurance or local senior services programs.

    Pros: The caregivers are usually trained companions or home health aides. Home health aides can help your loved one handle tasks like bathing, dressing and toileting.

    Cons: Private duty home health care is not well regulated by many states. You may need to do some research to find an agency that does appropriate background checks and whose employees are licensed and bonded.

    Adult Daycare Programs

    Cost: Varies widely depending on the program. Medicaid and local senior citizen’s programs may help to cover some of the expenses.

    Pros: Usually available Monday through Friday during daytime hours. Provides a social atmosphere and activities such as games, music programs and outings for your loved one.

    Cons: Adult daycare programs are generally not set up to handle the needs of people who require heavy physical care. Most of them are also not equipped to handle Alzheimer’s patients who wander.

    Nursing Homes for Respite Care

    Cost: $150 to $300 per day, depending on where you live and on the facility. If your loved one is a Medicare hospice patient, hospice will pay for five days of respite while you take a break.

    Pros: Nursing homes provide care for several days while you are out of town, getting a rest or dealing with a healthcare crisis of your own. They can meet heavy care needs, and many of secure units for patients who pose an elopement risk.

    Cons: Your loved one may be apprehensive about even a short-term nursing home placement. The cost is often prohibitive and most insurance policies will not pay for a short-term nursing home stay.

    Additional Information

    For more information about respite services available in your area, contact your local Area Agency on Aging. If your loved one is cognitively impaired, the chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association serving your area will also be able to provide you with a list of respite options. You can also call the nearest hospital and ask to speak with someone in the social services department.

    Taking care of yourself is an important part of taking care of your loved one. Schedule regular breaks to avoid exhaustion and burnout. You will return to your loved one as a calmer, healthier and happier caregiver.

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