Families in need of home care often look inward to help their loved one.
But it’s a turbulent journey for family caregivers, and like anyone else,
they need a break. Burnout is real and so are its consequences. That’s why
families often seek respite care.
This guide will outline the benefits and costs of respite care so you can
better understand this invaluable resource.
Benefits of Respite
There's no "one size fits all" in respite care. Some family caregivers need
reprieve after a parent has surgery and needs more support following the
return home. Some must return to work part-time after a loved one’s health
event (a stroke, fall, or other extended illness, for example) forced them
to provide full-time care. Others need a break after years of faithful
caregiving or want to celebrate a milestone anniversary or birthday with a
special trip. Whatever the motivation, these benefits apply across the
Avoiding more expensive types of care.
Caregiving is one of the
hardest unpaid jobs
out there. And whether done willingly or not, the clear majority of family
caregivers are not receiving financial reimbursement. What keeps people at
demanding jobs? It's usually the paycheck. A family caregiver, on the other
hand, is fueled by obligation, guilt, necessity or fear.
Paying for care at a nursing home would not only be expensive but also
emotionally taxing. That’s why many continue caregiving at the expense of
their health—despite feeling burned out, despite being pulled in different
directions (maintaining a paid full- or part-time job, raising children or
helping with the care of grandchildren, etc.). And considering the average
monthly cost of nursing home care—$7,148 for a semi-private room, $8,121
for a private room, per
Genworth’s 2017 Cost of Care Survey
—it’s understandable. Assisted living communities can also be expensive:
the average monthly cost for an assisted living community, per Genworth, is
Maintaining the caregiver’s health.
Burnout is real. It’s easy to keep going, ignoring the body’s warning
signs, ignoring fatigue. But if a family caregiver ends up in the hospital,
who’s around to provide care? If a family caregiver needing surgery is
always putting it off because of caregiving, will the condition worsen?
Respite care is not selfish; rather, it’s self-preservation to continue the
caregiving marathon. The truth is that if you’re a family caregiver, you
don’t know when your next break is coming. While the care needs of a stroke
victim may be more intense at the beginning, there may be many years of
care ahead. Respite will be necessary for the long haul.
Improving the care receiver’s health.
Family caregivers suffering burnout can provide sub-optimal care. If the
body is compromised by caregiving, how can optimal care for a loved one be
Costs of Respite
How much does respite cost? It depends on how often you use it and where
your loved one receives it.
Home-based respite care.
You can access respite via home health care (medically-based care) and home
care providers. Costs will vary based on how many hours or days of service
you need, and the extent of care required. On average, according to
Caring.com, you may pay anywhere from $15 to $40 per hour for intermittent
help (medical or personal care), and $120 to $200 per day or more for
Care facility-based respite care.
Many nursing homes, retirement communities, and assisted living facilities
offer short-term respite stays, either on an hourly, half-day, full-day,
overnight or extended basis. The cost averages $100 to $250 per day,
depending on what level of care is needed. In some facilities, there may be
a required minimum number of nights or days to qualify as a respite stay.
Community-based respite care.
Adult day care, or adult day services, is an excellent option for respite,
especially for caregivers who need coverage during daytime hours, freeing
them to work, go to doctor’s appointments, sleep or focus on self-care.
Caring.com estimates the cost of adult day services, via a licensed
provider, ranges from $25 to $150 per day. Many also offer sliding-scale
fees, and accept Medicaid and some other types of insurance coverage.
There may be some lower and even no-cost respite options available in your
community as well. Check with your local
Area Agency on Aging
ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center
to learn more about options. Speak with local churches or community
organizations to see if they provide respite care or services, like meal
delivery or friendly visitors. If your loved one is a veteran or the spouse
of a veteran, there may be
VA-associated respite options
for which they are eligible.
Before you start adding up the numbers, remember the goal of respite is
that it's a short-term solution and one that will hopefully prevent or
forestall the need for expensive long-term care. It’s also tough to assign
your health as the caregiver a dollar value, but if you miss work days or
caregiving days because of preventable illness or injury—or an
emergency—these financial and physical losses are sure to outweigh the
up-front expense of respite.
For more information on how a professional caregiver can provide quality
respite care, click here.