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3 Tips for Planning Respite Care

Being a caregiver to an ill family member can be a highly stressful experience. The physical and emotional demands can be overwhelming; you often put your own well-being on the back burner and this can be a serious detriment to not only yourself but the loved one in your care. It is vital to take time to yourself and recharge, to have a break from duties that can seem unrelenting. Arranging respite care can be the perfect solution. Here are some tips to guide you through the process of finding a provider.

Deciding Between Home Care or a Facility

When deciding on respite care services, the first thing you need to consider is whether you prefer to have someone come to your home or within the community. If you are interested in home-based services, you can arrange that independently with a caregiver or through an agency or referral service. This may be a good option if you feel that taking your loved one out of the home may be particularly disruptive to her well-being and routine. If you arrange for a caregiver on your own, you should thoroughly check references and consider doing a background check.

Community options include adult day centers, where you will be afforded relief during daytime hours, typically Monday through Friday. If you are interested in 24-hour respite,  there are many residential programs that can arrange for this. In most cases, insurance may not cover overnight respite care, but certain long-term care policies and veterans programs may pick up some of the cost. If you are interested in off-site care, you should visit at least three centers.

Payment Considerations

Insurance will typically not cover the cost of respite services, particularly overnight ones. In some cases, Medicaid may provide waivers to offset costs in patients with specific conditions—you can learn more about this at your state’s Administration on Aging website. If your loved one has disability coverage, he may qualify for home health care benefits. For qualified persons, the VA provides up to 30 days of respite care per year—if you are a veteran caring for a spouse, she may qualify for coverage as well. Certain foundations give grants to respite care providers, while organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association provides respite care funds to help offset costs for families.

If financial restraints make it difficult to pay a facility or independent care provider, consider other alternatives that may not cost a thing. Perhaps you can trade services with other caregivers; if you are just hoping to get a few hours to yourself and your loved one will not require any in-depth care during this time, perhaps you can arrange for a volunteer from a local retirement group or college-bound students who are in need of community service hours.

Getting the Most Out of Respite Care

To get the most out of respite care, you must utilize it on a regular basis; caregiver well-being must be tended to continuously, not just sometimes. You may need to fine tune the process a bit before finding what works best for you and your loved one. Make sure you provide the caregiver written lists of likes, dislikes, schedules, medications and any other important information they need to know. Continuously evaluate the provider and the care being given to see what is working and what is not. Always have back up plans in place so that you minimize the chances of having to cancel your rest period because of an unforeseen emergency. Attend support groups and reach out to other caregivers through other means to discuss experiences and get tips.

Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who has blogged about various topics pertaining to caregiving. If you are in need of resources, she recommends visiting Lift Caregiving for more information.

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