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Respite 101

You may have heard the term respite, but what does it mean? Basically, respite programs exist to give caregivers a break from the day to day caring of their loved one.  

Formal vs. Informal 

Are there people in your support system that can watch your loved one for an afternoon so you can get run errands? Family and trusted friends can help by offering informal respite and watching the loved one for a couple of hours or a weekend. This allows the caregiver to take time for themselves, the family members get to spend time with their loved one, and the loved one gets to spend time with other relatives.  

Adult Day Programs 

Adult day programs are an excellent community resource. Caregivers can drop off their loved one and know that they will be taken care of by a professional. Most adult day programs follow a daily schedule that includes various activities, field trips, and a low-cost meal. These programs let older adults feel social and enjoy themselves while the caregiver is at work or otherwise busy.  

Each adult day program is unique; some programs run 5 days a week, while others run 2-3 days. Some programs start as early as 6:30am, while others run for a few hours in the afternoon. There is usually a membership fee in order to cover costs. The Alzheimer’s Association has a great list of questions to ask when checking our adult day programs.  

Residential Programs 

Many hospitals and assisted living providers offer programs where caregivers’ loved ones can stay in their facility anywhere from overnight to two weeks, depending on the program.29 Programs like this allow the caregiver to travel, take a vacation, or rest for a longer period of time if needed.  

Paying for Care 

Unfortunately, Medicare and Medicaid don’t pay for respite care. Some community organizations offer programs to help offset the cost. Call the program you’re looking at for your loved one and ask what scholarships they offer.  

Respite Locators

Area Agency on Aging 1-B

Elder Care

Elder Helpers

National Respite Locator

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