Caregiving can be one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have. Without some time for themselves, however, caregivers cannot provide the quality of care that is needed. In these difficult economic times many caregivers think the relief they so desperately need is out of their reach. Not so. Respite care is affordable and there a variety of resources are available to help pay for respite care.
Independent Respite Care Providers
Independent respite care providers-such as home care agencies-usually bill their services at a fixed hourly rate for a minimum number of hours. A typical shift is two or three hours. Most agencies will provide overnight or 24-hour care upon request.
Before signing with an independent provider you should ask:
- for a copy of a written contract signed by both parties
- about their billing practices and what payment methods are accepted: cash, check, credit card
- if there is a charge to schedule their services
- if they bill insurance companies or government agencies that cover respite care costs
- whether pre-payment with a credit card is required to set up billing
When the home care is provided by friends, family members or other individuals an hourly rate should be agreed upon by the family member and the care provider. A payment schedule and method of payment-cash or check-also should be established.
Adult Daycare Centers
Seniors attending adult daycare centers can stay for a few to eight hours each weekday. The average cost-per-day for these facilities is $50 although it can fluctuate anywhere within the $25 to $70 range. Many centers have a sliding pay scale that allows families to pay what they can afford based on their income.
This type of respite care is not covered by Medicare. Medicaid, however, can cover the expense of a state-licensed facility which provides health care or an Alzheimer's environment if the individual meets certain financial criterion. Some centers make scholarships available on an as-needed basis. Some private medical insurance carriers will cover a share of the respite care costs if registered, licensed medical professionals are on staff. Dependent care tax credits also may be an option for the caregiver.
Paying for Care
Funding sources are available to help families offset the expense of respite care.
Hospice: Hospice is a special means of caring for individuals suffering from an incurable illness. The federal government's Medicare Hospice Benefit provides for up to five consecutive days of respite care. Generally, respite is provided in a skilled nursing facility (SNF) at the expense of the hospice agency. This provision is used in situations where caregivers are stressed, exhausted, must go out-of-town or tend to their own health concerns.
Long-term care insurance: Many long-term care insurance policies provide for adult daycare, other types of community care and respite care for the caregiver. The cost and duration of respite care coverage is different for every plan. Check your policy's benefits for specific details.
Veterans Benefits: Seniors who are veterans can receive up to one month of respite care every year through the Veterans Administration. Veterans who are caregivers for their spouses also may be eligible to receive funds for in-home services.
Social Security insurance: Individuals receiving disability payments from Social Security may be eligible for some type of home health care benefits. Contact the Social Security Administration to find out if your family member qualifies and what services are available.