As life expectancy and the cost of long-term care continues to rise, more and more Americans are caring for elderly parents and loved ones at home. According to reliable estimates, there are more than 50 million informal caregivers who look after an adult with a disability or illness. Because the physical and mental challenges of providing full-time, long-term supervision are considerable, responsibilities are often shared between family members. On occasion, these unpaid caregivers may take a break from their duties and leave their elderly loved ones in the hands of a trained professional.
What Is Respite Care?
Whether it is provided at home or in an assisted living or memory center, the purpose of respite care is to provide short-term supportive services when the primary caregiver is away. A necessary service for elderly individuals who are disabled or suffer from chronic health conditions like dementia, short-term supervision is generally needed when
– The primary caregiver must travel, take a break, or has health problems of her own
– The family is trying to decide if their loved one requires long-term, paid supportive services
– The family wants to gradually ease their loved one into a senior community with a series of short visits and stays
Because looking after someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be incredibly stressful, respite care has become an increasingly popular option with primary caregivers. Many take advantage of this service to give themselves a chance to “recharge their batteries” and get some much needed “me time.”
A growing number of assisted living facilities now provide short-term services to non-residents. These services and amenities typically include
– Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
– Medication management
– Around-the-clock supervision and security
– Help with personal care and hygiene, including bathing, dressing, grooming, and using the bathroom
– Laundry and housekeeping
– Games and group activities
How much does it cost for a primary caregiver to take a break without having to worry about their elderly loved one? When provided at an assisted living facility, temporary stays typically cost between $75 and $200 per day and last for less than one month. It is also important to mention that long-term care insurance may cover some of the costs associated with a temporary stay.
When It’s Needed
Looking after an elderly loved one can be hard work. Many primary caregivers burn out after only a few years. Others suffer in silence from their own chronic conditions, such as anxiety and depression. To avoid falling into poor health themselves, caregivers should take a scheduled break several times a year. Whether they take a vacation or simply a day off, time away from their responsibilities is just what the doctor ordered for most caretakers. It doesn’t matter if it’s only a few hours a week to run errands or go to the gym, a short break gives responsible people the opportunity to get back to their own lives from time to time.
Respite care is a godsend for the tens of millions of Americans who look after elderly loved ones at home.