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What Is Respite Care and How to Find Local Services

Body Mind on Dementia MapSubmitted by Beth Rush
Founder and Managing Editor
Body+Mind Magazine

You want your loved ones to spend their days in peace and dignity. However, the daily responsibilities of caring for someone with medical conditions that require continued supervision can wear on family caregivers. An occasional short-term break would be welcomed.

Finding the right respite care providers can give family members the temporary relief they need. While these services do not replace the primary caregiver, they allow them the freedom to go on vacation or tend to their other duties — because life and its demands don’t disappear when a loved one falls ill.

What are your various options for respite care services? What are the benefits and how can you find local services you can trust? Here’s what you need to know.

Respite Care Benefits Patients and Family Caregivers Alike

You love your relatives and want to honor their wishes to age in place and enjoy the comforts of home despite their health conditions. However, you’re also human and need to tend to yourself. Caregiver burnout affects countless individuals — consider these statistics:

  • 36% of caregivers report high emotional stress
  • Another 36% say they struggle financially
  • 60% said the job made their health worse

Respite care services can provide needed physical assistance, allowing you to recuperate. They also offer necessary short term breaks to ease emotional stress.

Woman pushing woman in wheelchair providing respite care
Photo by Dominik Lange on Unsplash

How Respite Care Benefits Family Caregivers

Reaching the end of your emotional rope adversely impacts the quality of care you give your loved one. This scenario is harmful in two ways.

Words can sting more than the pain from a chronic condition. Furthermore, researchers have drawn links between emotional stress and health problems. When you’re pushed past your patience limits, you could snap, unwittingly making toxic statements that aggravate your loved one’s symptoms by setting off a cascade of stress hormones.

The guilt you feel likewise affects your wellness and getting sick while caring for someone else only compounds the misery.

Furthermore, you’re prone to making mistakes when pushed to the limit, which can have severe consequences for your care recipient. Respite care, as well as other forms of assistance and sometimes treatment, are crucial for a caregiver’s mental health.

How Respite Care Benefits Care Recipients

Your loved one also benefits from respite services. Professional caregivers have an arsenal of activities to improve your loved ones’ health while letting them have fun. Furthermore, these programs can serve as valuable social interaction.

For example, many adult daycare centers offer opportunities to participate in various physical, social and recreational activities, including learning wellness tips that make their conditions more manageable. They might relax with a game of charades or Bingo after preparing a nutritious snack in the community kitchen, where they discuss healthier substitutions for unhealthy oils.

A Welcome Port of Calm in an Emergency

Life doesn’t stop while you care for your loved one. Your job might still send you out of town on business, your child’s soccer team makes the championships or a necessary home repair eats up your free time. Some situations require a helping hand, even if you typically arrange your schedule to stay available as a family caregiver.

Respite care services have your back. Establishing a relationship with a trusted service now saves unnecessary stress when emergencies arise. Knowing where to find local services is vital, even if you don’t have an immediate need. Your loved one will feel much safer in the hands of someone else they already know and trust.

The Various Types of Respite Care Services

When searching for local services, what might you find? There are three types of respite care for you to choose from.

1. In-Home Respite Care

In-home care entails respite providers coming to your home to provide services. This model has several advantages for family members, including:

  • The care recipient feels more comfortable in familiar surroundings.
  • The family members have the peace of mind that their loved one is safe in their own home.
  • Care recipients don’t have to deal with transportation headaches that create unnecessary hardships for those with mobility challenges.
  • The home may be equipped with assistive devices the care recipient already uses.
  • If deeper care is needed, respite programs could be selected that include home health aides or skilled nursing services.

2. Adult Day Care Centers

An Adult Day Center offers another alternative for care recipients who benefit from getting out of their homes and interacting with others in a safe environment. Some such locations might look less like a respite care program and more like fun.

For example, care recipients might participate in gentle yoga or other adult fitness programs, as physical activity benefits nearly every chronic condition. They may make crafts, work in a community garden or play games with other attendees that stimulate their minds while easing their loneliness and improving mental health. They might participate in support groups with others who understand their unique challenges.

While they engage in meaningful, healthy activity, their family caregivers can tend to work and other responsibilities — or sneak off for some well-deserved R&R.

3. Short-Term “Long-Term” Care

What if you have to go out of town for two weeks? If your loved one needs assistance with personal care beyond mere supervision, you might consider a short-term stay in a traditional long-term care center.

These facilities maintain a professional staff of respite caregivers, including licensed CNAs and nurses trained in giving baths and administering medications. This temporary relief allows you to travel, knowing your loved one is safe in caring hands.

Caring hands being held during respite care
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

How to Find Local Services

How can you find respite care near you and get the in-home support you need?

Your state’s Department of Aging is a solid starting place. As a resource center, many maintain directories of home care agencies, giving you a tidy list of organizations to call for help. You can also try your state’s Disability Services Administration. However, many of these are geared more toward directing such individuals toward accommodating work opportunities, which may not be applicable in your situation.

You can also seek independent online directories from organizations specializing in connecting respite recipients and providers. For example, the ARCH National Respite Network lists local services for multiple types of care, from daycare for special needs children to older adults, They also include short-term stays in long-term facilities or in-home providers that give you the short-term relief you need.

How to Pay for Respite Care

Finding local services is the first step — covering the cost of respite care is another. Your options besides cash depend on where you live. Some states have life span respite care programs that provide vouchers, grants or stipends families can use for self-directed programs, including faith-based options.

For families that qualify, nearly every state offers Medicaid waivers that help cover the cost of care. However, state caps vary widely. Some states have adopted Section 1915(i) Medicaid State Plan Option for Home and Community-Based Services. If yours is on the list and your loved one qualifies, it could cover their care without applying for a waiver. Check with your state’s Medicaid office to learn more.

Other areas you can check for financial assistance include the following:

  • Your local Area Agency on Aging: They receive and administer funding from the National Family Caregiver Support Program.
  • VA caregiver support line: Veterans can receive non-institutional care and in-home respite. Call 1-855-260-3274 to find out your options. Military families can also investigate Tricare’s Extended Care Health Option.
  • Relief organizations individualized to conditions: The Association for Frontotemporal Disintegration, the Alzheimer’s Foundation, Easter Seals, the Arc, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the ALS Association and the National Organization for Rare Diseases may offer respite funding or grants.
  • Faith-based organizations: If you’re a member of an established church, your pastor or another faith leader may have ways to help.

Locating Local Services for Respite Care 

Respite care provides valuable relief for family caregivers overwhelmed by tending to their loved ones. They may simply need a hand juggling multiple hats, while trying to take care of their own needs, too. Knowing where to find local services on an as-needed basis to help is essential for an occasional much-needed break.

Understanding the types of respite care available helps you make an informed decision about your loved one’s care. The right local services can become valuable partners in keeping your family healthy and knowing your loved one is in good hands.

Body Mind on Dementia Map

Beth Rush
Body+Mind Magazine

Beth Rush is a Founder and the Managing Editor at Body+Mind and a lover of all things health and wellness. She is a well-respected writer in the personal wellness space and shares knowledge on a variety of topics related to nutrition, fitness, holistic health and disease prevention.

In her spare time, Beth enjoys cooking healthy recipes and trying out new fitness trends.

Visit Beth on Dementia Map or on her website.

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