Respite Care – A Must for Care Givers

As a single parent years ago, I remember clearly the feeling that I had when the kids went back to school after a VERY long summer vacation. The truth is that by the end of the summer I was very much “over” the care giving responsibilities, and my behavior around the kids probably showed it. I would often go in to the bedroom, shut the door, and tell any of the kids that knocked on the door that I was on strike and wasn’t sure when I would be ending my “strike”. Then came my version of “respite care” — the kids went back to school. For 5 or 6 hours a day I got a break and I didn’t need to go on strike nearly as much.

Now that I am older and my wife and I have had the privilege of being a caregiver to both my father and mother, I realize the importance of having some time away from those responsibilities as well. Taking care of an elderly parent or spouse can be a heart wrenching and trying experience in the best of circumstances. Not only do you have the emotional trauma of seeing your loved one decline mentally and physically, but you also must deal with the increasingly demanding day-to-day needs they have like feeding, bathing, dressing, grooming, etc.

I won’t belabor the need for respite care. If you are taking care of an elderly parent or spouse there is no doubt that you need a break from those responsibilities. The problem becomes how to find and choose the right respite care resources in your community. First we’ll go in to how to find the different programs, and then deal with the possibly more difficult problem of how to pay for what you do find.

Types of respite care:

For an hour or two:

In addition to the obvious solution of asking family and friends to take over for brief periods, there are also private agencies that will send a person to your home for an hour or a whole day. Do a search for “in home care giving” and you will get an idea of just how many agencies there are that specialize in this type of short-term care. A lot of times you can find a private individual who is willing to provide services for your loved one for a little less money. A good resource for finding qualified caregivers is to go through a local Community College that offers Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training. They may have past or current students looking for work. Private individuals charge $10 to $15 per hour and for the agencies, expect to pay in the $15 to $20 per hour range.

For a day:

Different varieties of Adult Day Care programs can be found in most communities. The better ones offer appropriate activities and maybe even a meal. Typically, they are sponsored by churches or civic organizations and the cost can be quite reasonable. Make sure that the program director allows you to observe for a day so that you can see if there is a match between your loved one’s needs and what they offer. Some programs are geared towards those with Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and some programs only allow participants who do not have those diagnoses. Most counties have some type of agency that deals with the elderly and typically have knowledge of the types of Adult Day Care services available where you live. Click this link to find out the state and local agencies in your area or click the link at our website. Expect to pay $40 to $50 per day for a good program.

For up to a week:

Often overlooked as respite care possibilities are the Assisted Living facilities. These are not nursing homes, but are for people who may need someone to supervise and help with bathing, dressing, taking meds, etc. All of these facilities like to keep their beds full, and a lot of times you can negotiate with the facility director to allow your loved one to stay for a few days or a week at a time. The great part about this option is that you can have the peace of mind that your loved one will be taken care for the time you are away. Some facilities offer a few nights stay for free, and this becomes a great way to get a free getaway. Assisted Living facilities can be expensive, with some charging up to $200 per day. The key is to find a facility willing to negotiate with you. I have seen rates go as low as $450 per week for a high quality facility.

When considering any respite care program, make sure that you get as many references as possible from people who have actually used the program you are investigating. Churches and government agencies are a good place to start when checking out these programs.

How to pay for respite care:

Finding grants, scholarships, and other funding to help defray the cost of respite care can be frustrating. There really is no easy way around this. It just requires making lots of phone calls, talking with a variety of people in similar situations, and sticking with it until you find something that works for you. Joining local support groups or online community will put you in touch with people who have similar needs. All of you will be able to benefit from your collective experience in funding respite care as well as other needs that you have in common.

For funding of participation in respite care programs, check with county agencies serving the elderly, local Alzheimer’s Association offices, churches, synagogues, and the programs themselves. Often the respite care program will have their own money they use as a type of scholarship to help fund participation in their program. Most importantly, don’t give up. A friend who desperately needed respite care for her mother, but couldn’t afford it, just received a grant from the local Alzheimer’s Association. With the grant money she was able to pay for a week in an assisted living facility. There is money available, but a lot of times it takes digging to find it. how to find a caregiver

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