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Respite Care

Respite Care at Home

When people provide care for a senior family member, it’s a gift of love with many challenges. According to data, about 32.4 million Americans provided unpaid care for aging family members in 2015, and the numbers continue to grow. These statistics are collected every five years to reevaluate and notate changes.

The most recent statistics show an increase of 9.5 million from 2015 to 2020, which indicates around 53 million primary caregivers. Some seniors stay in their own homes while some move in with their primary caregivers. It all depends on if the family member can give independent care without extra assistance.

Whatever the living situation may be, these informal caregivers have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders. Some seniors can do basic self-care routines on their own. They just need a little help with house chores, shopping, and other needs. However, many seniors cared for at home may be completely bedridden and require round-the-clock care.

They often have chronic or even terminal health issues. Either way, the informal caregiver can quickly become physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted. Many families share the responsibility of caring for their senior loved ones, so nobody does it alone.

Although, what about those who do all the caregiving and don’t have anyone to help them? It can be difficult, no matter how much they love their senior family member. Fortunately, respite care is available for temporary help. It offers primary caregivers a well-deserved break. Plus, they know that their loved one is in good hands so that they can take some downtime and rest.

What is Respite Care?

Respite care gives primary caregivers a temporary break to rest and take care of themselves. No matter how strong and devoted a primary caregiver may be, the tasks can be profoundly draining. They can use respite care to reconnect with their immediate family and go somewhere without worrying about their senior’s well-being.

This temporary care may include assistance with the activities for daily living (ADLs) or skilled nursing for seniors who need medical care. Respite care can be provided in a hospital, skilled nursing facility, hospice house, or the senior’s home. The respite care provider will ensure that the senior gets the loving care and attention their informal caregivers expect.

Another feature of respite care is that it gives the senior loved one a chance to socialize with others. Regardless of the strong bond between primary caregivers and their loved ones, everyone needs a break from each other. The patient will spend quality time with the respite care staff and may enjoy someone new to talk to.

How Does Respite Care Work?

According to Family Caregiver Alliance, primary caregivers can receive respite care services through many venues. Local Departments on Aging have a Family Caregiver Support Program that offers respite services. Also, the senior care provider can provide respite care in the location where the caregiver lives.

Depending on the senior and circumstances, the informal caregiver may need some alone time at home. It may be the case that the senior may be a hospice patient or need specialized care. The senior can be temporarily transported to a skilled nursing facility, adult day care, hospital, or hospice house in these cases.

Creating a Respite Care Plan

Whichever respite care program primary caregivers choose, the provider will help create a care plan around the primary caregiver’s and senior’s schedules. The visits can be scheduled according to the specific needs of the patient. Respite care is available 24/7, even on weekends and holidays.

Tailoring a respite care plan also involves other factors, like considering the informal caregiver’s work schedule away from home. If an informal caregiver has children, their schedule will be exceptionally demanding. The respite schedule can vary from a few short hours a day to around-the-clock assistance.

Who Pays for Respite Services?

Unfortunately, Medicare benefits don’t cover long-term or respite care. However, it will cover temporary respite services for hospice patients. Medicare will pay for five consecutive days of respite in a hospital, skilled nursing facility, or hospice house, but not at home. The benefit is available for one-time use every 90 days, per the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

Although Medicare won’t pay for non-hospice respite care, there are other options. Many long-term insurance policies offer paid respite care benefits. State Medicaid can also pay for this care, depending on the state regulations. Other options include veteran’s benefits, cashed-in life insurance policies, or private pay, states an article published by Senior Care.

What are the Benefits of Respite Care?

Respite care is a welcomed reprieve for informal caregivers while benefiting their senior loved ones. Usually, respite care is provided by the senior’s regular home care or hospice provider. These compassionate professionals will work closely with the informal caregivers and their loved ones to create a care plan that meets their needs.

Why is Respite Care Important?

  • It can be essential for the primary caregiver’s physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
  • Respite care can revive and refresh and make them better caregivers.
  • Taking a break can benefit the primary caregiver and senior loved one’s relationship.
  • If the primary caregiver has an emergency, gets sick, or needs surgery, respite service can care for their loved one while recovering.
  • There are viable payment options for respite care for those who aren’t hospice patients.

Benefits for Primary Caregivers

It’s estimated that 17 percent of primary caregivers say their overall health has declined because of their responsibilities. Respite care provides essential services that can help alleviate stress and burnout. Here are some other benefits for primary caregivers and the loved ones they assist:

  • It provides a much-needed break whenever needed.
  • Eliminates or minimizes any guilt of taking some time for themselves and their families.
  • Having professional and compassionate staff caring for their loved ones offers peace of mind.
  • Is available in emergencies when a caregiver must be away or can’t perform their
  • The care plan will be tailored to their schedule and the patient’s needs.
  • Respite care gives the informal caregiver time to recharge and gain a new perspective.

Benefits for the Care Recipients

  • Respite services are available to senior patients wherever they call home, including private residences, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, adult daycares. However, Medicare will only cover respite care for senior hospice patients in a skilled nursing facility, hospital, or hospice house.
  • They can be assured that they’ll have professional, compassionate care even when their primary caregiver needs a break.
  • The temporary break from their primary caregiver may bring them closer emotionally.
  • They’ll have the chance to socialize with different people, especially if they are homebound.


1. Caregivers in Decline 

2. Help! I need a break! How can I find respite care? – Family Caregiver Alliance

3. Caregiving in the U.S. 2020

4. Managing Medicare Hospice Respite Care

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