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Caring for the Caregiver

Respite Services

Respite means "time off." Every caregiver needs time off. Respite through substitute care can be provided on a regular basis, such as three days a week, or can be scheduled in advance when needed for vacations or special occasions.

Paying for respite services can be challenging. There is some funding for low-income caregivers available through Medicaid, and states are increasingly finding additional revenue sources to support moderate-income families. For information on services nationwide, visit the National Respite Locator Service, a free service that connects caregivers and respite programs in their own community or the community where the elder in their care resides.

In-Home Care

In-home care is provided by a companion who comes to the house. Usually this is done one or two times a week for four hours or less to provide companionship and supervision, but no personal care or household services. In-home care allows caregivers, especially full-time caregivers, to do errands, attend to personal business, socialize, and exercise. It can be arranged through your local Area Agency on Aging or from private service providers. Sometimes volunteers are available through a "Friendly Visitor Program" or local faith-based organizations.

Out-of-Home Care

Out-of-home programs offer a secure, friendly environment for elders and provide caregivers with respite. These services can be arranged through your local Area Agency on Aging or Council on Aging. There are several types of out-of-home care programs:

  • Social Day Care Groups provide daytime supervision outside the home, usually with snacks or meals, along with recreational and social activities.
  • Adult Day Care Centers provide recreational programs and meals for elders who need closer supervision, usually due to dementia or Alzheimer's.
  • Adult Day Health Care provides an organized program of health care, supervision, and social activities for elders who have health conditions that need to be monitored.
  • Emergency Relief Respite Programs are available to caregivers who have a personal or medical emergency, such as a sudden illness or a funeral out-of-town. These programs usually utilize a room in a long-term care facility or rehabilitation center, and the elder is taken care of as if she or he were a resident in that facility.
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