By Bernard Freeman
Respite care is available as a support for informal caregivers — to give them time off, fulfill needs they are unable to meet and otherwise help take care of people who need significant care.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the available options for respite care vary; caregivers and their patients can determine what’s available in their community and mix and match the different services to meet their needs. Visit www.eldercare.acl.gov for more information or contact your area agency on aging to learn what options you have.
Adult day care
Many caregivers are still working full-time while also providing care to a parent, spouse or other relative and need help during the workday. Adult day care provides companionship and assistance during the day. It also is available for caregivers who aren’t working but need to run errands, go to doctor’s appointments or take care of other needs during the day. Assisted living communities may provide some activities that are available to others in the community.
In-home respite care
This type of care could include companion services to help with supervision, entertainment and companionship; homemaker services to assist with housekeeping, cooking or shopping; personal care services to help the person bathe, get dressed or go to the bathroom; and skilled care services, such as providing health care or administering medications.
Volunteer respite care
You are an informal caregiver; when you need help, look for others who can provide the same type of informal care. Other family members, neighbors, friends and even volunteers from the community may be able and willing to pitch in as needed, helping with different tasks and giving you time for yourself.
Paying for respite care
Some of these services, such as community volunteer, interfaith programs or Meals on Wheels, shouldn’t cost you anything. Many programs are subsidized by the government or by nonprofits, depending on the type of agency and the specific services needed. Some people have long-term care insurance policies that will help pay for these costs, as well. This is another question to ask the area agency on aging, which can point you to financial assistance.