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Respite Care: Why You Need It—Where to Get It

CaregiverIdeas and Advice When Caring For a Parent or Loved One

For family caregivers, getting some time to themselves to rest and recharge is crucial—but it can also be difficult. There can be barriers, including cost and getting your loved one to accept care delivered by someone other than you.

Knowing what kinds of respite care are available—and where to find that care—can be an important first step. We’ve created a quick roundup of respite care options to help you understand what might work for you. We’ve included pros, cons and some helpful tips. Make sure to read to the end for some ways to make respite care more affordable.

Respite Care Options

In-home respite through a home care company

Many home care agencies offer respite care. You’ll work with the home care agency to develop a plan of care and a regular schedule. In addition to providing companionship and hands-on care, many home care agencies will often do light housekeeping while they’re there.

• Pros: Agency care staff are typically drug tested, have passed a background check, and are bonded and insured.
• Cons: Cost can be high. Most home care agencies require a minimum number of hours per visit, which can impact the cost.
•Helpful Tip: Read the article in our Connect Information and Resource Guide for tips on what to look for when hiring a home care agency.

In-home respite through a private caregiver

Some individuals provide care for older adults and adults with disabilities. You could connect with them using a website like care.com, or ask for recommendations from friends, neighbors or people at your house of worship.

  • Pros: Care from an individual can be less costly. It may also be easier for your loved one to develop a relationship with an individual caregiver.
  • Cons: Individual caregivers usually don’t have a backup. This means may not have care on days the caregiver is ill or cannot come for whatever reason.
  •  Helpful Tip: Make sure you do a background check and understand if they’re bonded or insured.

Help from friends and family

Friends and family can be a great resource, and most are more willing to help than we realize. Make sure you say yes to any offers of help. Be ready with a specific request when people ask: “Yes! I would love to go to book club on Wednesday evening, do you think you could sit with Joe?”

  • Pros: Friends and family usually provide care for free or at a low cost. They are also usually someone your loved one knows and feels comfortable with.
  • Cons: This care can be catch-as-catch-can and can leave you at the mercy of other people’s schedules.
  • Helpful Tip: Use apps like Lotsa Helping Hands or inacare to help people see your needs and sign up for a specific respite time.

Adult day

Adult day centers can be a godsend for family caregivers. Centers provide care following a set schedule each week. Care is often focused on people with dementia, and centers provide meaningful activities (think music, games and socializing). It can improve the quality of life for both you and your loved one. Call a center near you to discuss your loved one’s needs and whether they’d be a good fit for the program. See our Caregiver Resources page for a list of adult day programs in our region.

  • Pros: Your loved one will likely love the different activities. They’ll get to know the staff and attendees and may feel a sense of belonging.
  • Cons: Not all centers provide transportation, so you may have to get your loved one there.
  • Helpful Tip: Many centers provide care on a sliding scale, so care may be more affordable than you think.

Volunteer respite/caregiver programs

We help fund volunteer caregiver programs that provide occasional respite care for a few hours. Programs available through:

Extended out-of-home respite care

Some licensed care facilities (nursing homes, adult foster care or homes for the aged) can provide temporary, overnight, out-of-home care at their facilities. This can be especially helpful for a caregiver who needs to go out of town, has to be off their feet for a while because of surgery or other medical care, or would just like to take a vacation or an extended break. Call our Information and Assistance Resource Center, at 800-852-7795, to find a facility that offers this type of care.

  • Pros: Taking an extended break—for whatever reason—can help you avoid caregiver burnout and make sure you can be there for your loved one over the long run.
  • Cons: It can take a lot of planning to get care arranged. You will likely need to book well in advance.
  • Helpful Tip: Call our Information and Referral Resource Center, at 800-852-7795, for referrals to facilities offering extended out-of-home respite.

Making Respite Care More Affordable

Here are some ideas, programs and resources that might make respite care more accessible and affordable:

Check out respite care grants

Some organizations offer grants to help pay for respite care. These grants are usually offered by organizations that serve specific conditions, like Alzheimer’s disease. Here are two:

Look into government-funded care programs

AgeWays manages two government-funded in-home care programs that could include respite care resources. To see if you qualify for either program, call our Information and Assistance Resource Center at 800-852-7795. There are currently waitlists for both programs.

  • MI Choice Medicaid Waiver: This Medicaid-funded program serves as an alternative to nursing home care by bringing care services into the home. It’s available to people 65 and older and adults with disabilities who need a nursing home level of care and meet financial eligibility requirements ($2,542 or less in monthly income and $2,000 or less in assets). Financial eligibility is based on the income of the person needing care. Not all assets will be counted (including your home and vehicle) and asset limits may be different for married couples.
  • Community Living Program: This program provides additional support to help people 60+, who need help with activities of daily living, remain at home or in the community. Depending on what your loved one needs, this could include help with housekeeping and meal preparation, transportation, or respite care. There are no financial eligibility requirements, but we do target those people with the most need.

See if your loved one qualifies for a special VA pension

If your loved one is a veteran who served during wartime, they may be eligible for an Aid and Attendance pension, which can help pay for care, including respite care delivered at home or in an adult day center. There are financial eligibility guidelines. Spouses of veterans and surviving spouses of veterans may also qualify.

Additional resources

To find more respite care resources, look on our online Caregiver Resource List or call our Resource Center at 800-852-7795.


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