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What Is Respite Care?

Respite care is short-term care for seniors designed to provide primary caregivers a period of rest or “respite” from the daily responsibilities of caring for their loved ones. Respite support can help ease the burden of family caregivers and allows them to relieve stress, restore energy, and promote life balance. This short-term care also prevents feelings of isolation and caregiver burnout.

The respite period can vary based on the family’s needs, but it can be arranged for a few hours, several days, or even weeks. Respite care is typically provided by adult day care centers, home care agencies, nursing and assisted living facilities, and individual professional caregivers. They may provide the care services at home, an adult day care, or a nursing or assisted living facility.


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Respite Care Services

Respite care ensures your loved one is comfortable and safe while you’re away. Respite services can vary based on the senior’s needs and care plan, and coverage ranges from medical needs to daily tasks. Below are several respite care services you can expect:

  • Assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, dressing, and eating
  • Assistance with household tasks such as cleaning and laundry
  • Meal preparation and cooking
  • Transportation to healthcare appointments or errands
  • Medication management
  • Nursing and medical care
  • Companionship and entertainment
  • Participation in group activities

Types of Respite Care

Below are the most common types of respite care and examples of who may  be a good fit:

In-Home Care

In-home respite care assists in the senior’s home. Trained in-home caregivers or companion care aides come to the senior’s location to help the primary caregiver on a scheduled cadence or as-needed basis. The main benefit of in-home care is that it allows seniors to stay at home where they’re most comfortable. This type of respite care is ideal for caregivers who have jobs outside the home and don’t want to leave their senior loved one alone.

Adult Day Services

Adult day services are available during daytime business hours and take place in non-residential settings like senior centers, churches, or other community centers. Typically, seniors stay at an adult day care center between six to eight hours a day during which time they are monitored by caregivers and can socialize with other participants. Adult day cares are great for caregivers who work outside the home or simply need daytime coverage for errands or self-care.

Residential Respite Care

Residential respite care is a short-term service for seniors to stay outside of their primary residence for as little as one night to as long as several weeks. While in residential respite care, seniors receive care and supervision in a safe environment – typically long-term care facilities (e.g., an assisted living facility or senior community) that reserve a specific number of beds for respite care services. This option is suitable for caregivers who want to travel out of town or otherwise need to take a break. 

Informal Respite Care

Informal respite care is simply non-professional assistance provided by family members or friends. This will be the first option for many people since a trusted individual delivers the care. Informal care is great for the occasional errands like grocery shopping and appointments.

Respite Care Costs

Respite care costs will vary depending on the type of respite care you need, insurance coverage, and location. The least expensive option is informal respite care since you’re asking an unpaid family member, relative, or friend for a favor.

However, if you want professional respite care, adult day care is the least expensive option and will cost, on average, $78 per day or $1,690 monthly. Meanwhile, entrusting your loved one to a residential respite care facility (like an assisted living facility) will cost $148 daily on average.

For in-home care, professional caregivers charge an average hourly rate of $26 or an average of $163 daily. Meanwhile, home health aides are slightly more expensive, with an average cost of $27 an hour or $169 daily.

How To Pay for Respite Care

Unfortunately, Medicare (with some exceptions) and most private insurance do not cover respite care, so families often pay out of pocket. However, several financial assistance programs are available that can pay for respite care:

  • Medicare: Generally, Medicare doesn’t cover respite care, except in certain circumstances. If the senior is also a hospice care recipient, Medicare Part A can help cover respite care provided eligibility requirements are met.
  • Medicaid: Medicaid does not cover respite care services. However, in many states, the HCBS Waiver Program can help cover the cost of respite stay. Check with your state’s Medicaid and waiver programs if they have coverage for respite care.
  • Veterans Benefits: Senior veterans who are housebound or need help with daily activities may be eligible for financial assistance under the Aid and Attendance benefit. In addition, eligible veterans are also entitled to receive respite care in VA-approved agencies and facilities.
  • Long-term Care Insurance: Depending on the policy and specifics of the coverage, some long-term care insurance plans may cover custodial care in an adult day care, nursing home, or assisted living facility.
  • Adult Day Services: Some local churches, senior community centers, and non-profit organizations offer adult day care services on a sliding fee scale. This means you can pay hourly for less than a full day of care.

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Those with certain disabilities or diseases have more obstacles to overcome when searching for a quality assisted living home. If you have questions, we are here to help provide the answers. Give our senior care advocates a call and read our guides for specific information and resources related to your or your loved one’s condition.

Those with certain disabilities or diseases have more obstacles to overcome when searching for a quality assisted living home. If you have questions, we are here to help provide the answers. Give our senior care advocates a call and read our guides for specific information and resources related to your or your loved one’s condition.

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