Respite care worker pours a pitcher of water into a glass for a senior woman in the kitchen.

Explaining the Costs and Benefits of Respite Care

Families in need of home care often look inward to help their senior loved ones. Family caregivers can experience physical and emotional challenges, and like anyone else, they need a break. Burnout is real and can have many consequences.

That’s why families could benefit from respite care, but many don't completely understand what respite is or what does respite care mean.

What is Respite Care?

Respite care definition: "The temporary care for a loved one that enables the primary caregiver to take a short break from the responsibilities as a caregiver."

The primary caregiver could use that time to address personal needs, spend quality time with children and/or spouse, run errands or take a much-needed breather. Respite care should give the caregiver peace of mind to handle other responsibilities without having to constantly ask, “Is my loved one OK?”

In addition to offering a break for the caregiver, respite care can also help seniors by letting them interact with someone other than a primary caregiver in a safe and supportive environment. Respite caregivers can help seniors complete daily activities like housework or cooking, personal hygiene, mental stimulation or just offer companion care.

Respite care can take place in a hospice or medical facility, in a senior daycare center or the comfort of the senior’s own home.

Benefits of Respite Care

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) forced them to provide full-time care. Others need a break after years of faithful caregiving. Whatever the motivation, these benefits apply across the board.

Though your loved one no doubt appreciates your work, which allows mom or dad to stay comfortable in the home, the physical, emotional and mental burden to the caregiver can be overwhelming. Did you know that 40 to 70 percent of family caregivers show depression symptoms?

By taking time to look after your own needs, including health, exercise and social interaction, you can ensure that you’re able to look after your loved one to the best of your ability and give the person the care that is needed. It is perfectly normal to feel frustrated or burnt out, and respite care can be a great way to step away from these feelings and recharge. Respite care can also help maintain your loved one’s health.

Respite caregivers can help with tasks around the home, provide personal care, prepare healthy meals or simply offer senior companionship. When your mom or dad is with a professional caregiver, you know they’re in good hands, so you can spend guilt-free time attending to other personal or family needs.

How Much Does Respite Care Cost?

The cost of respite care can vary depending on the type of care your loved one needs. How often your senior needs care also plays a role in determining costs, which can vary across the country. A Visiting Angels home care service provider will partner with you to schedule care as needed and within your budget.

Before you add up numbers, remember the goal of respite care 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 a dollar value to your health as the caregiver. 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.

To learn how much respite care services cost in your area, contact your nearest Visiting Angels' home care agency or call 1-800-365-4189.

Who Pays for Respite Care?

While many insurance plans don't cover costs for respite care, there are long-term care plans that may offer assistance. Check your policy’s benefits for details. If you don't have insurance coverage available, you would pay any costs not provided by insurance or other sources. In most cases, Medicare does not pay for long-term care, but there are some instances where it may cover respite care for you and your loved one. Call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visit for help with coverage, claims, payments and more.

If your loved one does not qualify for Medicare, there may be other ways to fund it. State Medicaid may fund some forms of respite care (varies by state.) If your loved one is a veteran, he or she could be covered by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. If your loved one has long-term care insurance, this will likely include respite care.

How Many Hours of Respite Care Are Needed?

The number of hours of care that you need can vary depending on several factors. Are there other family members helping you provide care? What are your responsibilities away from your loved one? What is your work schedule? Do you have kids? Do you need a couple of hours twice a week or a full 24 hours away from the house?

It may also depend on what type of care your loved one needs.

  • Does mom require personal care?
  • Does dad have other companions who visit with him?
  • Is mom safe in the house alone?
  • Does dad need help taking medicines at set times of the day?

Home care professionals will help you build a care plan that looks after both your needs and the requests of your loved one.

It’s also important to remember that as your loved one gets older or a condition worsens, more care may be needed. The care plan will constantly evolve, and your home care provider can be there in the future to expand the role if needed.

When is Respite Care Available?

Respite care will be available to fit you and your loved one’s schedules. Visiting Angels’ professional caregivers can visit as frequently as you desire on a program based around you and your loved one’s needs. The care can be temporary or long-term. It will be available weekdays, weekends and holidays. Your local Visiting Angels will work with you to create a care plan that works for both you and your loved one.

If you're interested in our compassionate home care services for you or a loved one, contact your nearest Visiting Angels home care agency today or call 800-365-4189.
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