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Give Me a Break! - How to Pay for Respite Care

Shannon Martin - July 27, 2011 11:03 AM

Respite care is generally not covered by insurance or Medicare (Medicare exception: when the person is receiving hospice care). Most respite care is paid for directly by the client or family.  It may seem expensive to pay for respite care, but keep in mind that there are a variety of options for respite care and some resources to help.  Also, remember that rest for caregivers is a necessity.

Costs:  Here is a very general breakdown of average prices for different types of care (statistics taken from MetLife’s Mature Market Institute Study of Long-Term Care Costs nationwide averages):

Home Care, provided by a home care agency:
$21/hour for home health aide
$19/hour for homemaker/companion (non-hands on care)
*you may be able to find less expensive care by hiring privately or using a matching service, but it is important to understand your liability and possible concerns about supervision and oversight (especially if you are hiring care when you will not be available to oversee it).

Adult Day Services:
$67/day (8 hours/day, 5 days/week)
*Adult Day Services can vary widely, as they can be provided by community groups as well as local Assisted Living Facilities and some offer half-day or hourly care as well. Some funding may be available for sliding-scale or free care in your community in adult day care provided by community organizations.

Assisted Living Facility:
$3293/month=$106/day
*For respite care, most Assisted Living Facilities charge a daily rate which may be slightly more than simply dividing the monthly rate.

Nursing Home:
$205/day for semi-private room
$229/day for private room
* If an individual has a medical need, it may be possible that Medicare covers a short-term stay in a nursing facility if preceded by a 3 day hospital stay for the condition.

Some tips/resources for paying for respite care:

You might be able to use a combination of options, possibly in conjunction with help from family and friends.

Total costs vary in terms of what is included. For example, all meals will generally be included at an Assisted Living Facility. Adult Day Care usually provides a mid-day meal and some provide transportation to and from the program.

Research financial support through community organizations. Some disease-specific organizations, such as the Alzheimer’s Association, provide some funding to assist with respite care. Find out if this is available and what parameters/eligibility are involved.

There are also caregiver support programs available through aging services. Check with your local Area Agency on Aging. These funding sources may have eligibility requirements or waiting lists.  Find your local agency at the Eldercare Locator: www.eldercare.gov.

Talk to family members and friends about respite care. Can another family member (or combination) provide respite? If not, can family members pitch in to help cover the cost of respite care?

Check with your church or other community organizations about assistance.  Volunteers may be available to at least check in or help with transportation and errands if not substitute care.

Supportive services may help to complete a respite care plan and save costs.  For example, a personal emergency response system or in-home monitoring system may provide a safety net for loved ones in between hours of someone being there; meals on wheels can provide nutrition and visitors to check in; partial day visits to adult day care or an adult day program at your church or an assisted living may bridge the gaps.

Consider contacting a geriatric care manager for assistance.  A care manager can help you identify options, resources and create a care plan, as well as be hired to oversee care while you are away.

To get more information on how caregivers can prepare for emergencies, read Shannon Martin’s article, Avoiding Another Katrina: Minimize Risk for Elders in Natural Disasters.

Shannon Martin, M.S.W., CMC, is Director of Communications at Aging Wisely, LLC (http://www.agingwisely.com), a professional care management and patient advocacy organization and EasyLiving, Inc. (www.easylivingfl.com), a licensed home care agency, in Clearwater, FL.  Shannon serves as adjunct professor at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL, where she created a course on “Eldercare”.  Prior in her career, Shannon served as social services director and admissions coordinator in an assisted living/skilled nursing facility and worked as a social worker and volunteer coordinator for a large hospice.   

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