Many seniors today choose to age in place at home with family. This can have many benefits for your senior parent. However, it can also mean that family caregivers will need to make some adjustments. Some of these will come easily, while others might cause some stress as care needs increase.
Relying solely on yourself to care for your senior parent while balancing other responsibilities at home, work, and with your spouse or children is a recipe for exhaustion without the right support. That’s why planning for respite care is essential for seniors and their caregivers.
Here’s what you should know about respite care for seniors, the benefits for you and your parent, and how to access these services.
What is respite care for seniors?
Unlike other levels of healthcare, respite care is mainly designed to benefit the caregiver rather than the patient. However, there are benefits for the patient too.
Caring for an aging parent can be extremely rewarding. However, it often requires a large amount of physical and emotional energy. You might also be juggling your own health issues, the needs of a spouse or children, or work outside the home. Without the right support, you could find yourself facing burnout.
That’s where respite care comes in.
Respite care allows caregivers to rest and recharge. It’s a way to give the primary caregiver a short break from the responsibilities of caregiving.
During the respite period, caregiving duties are taken over by a professional. This can be done in one of two ways:
In the home with caregivers provided by an agency
Out of the home with your senior parent going for a short stay at a residential care facility
This time is essential for your physical and emotional health and your parent’s well-being. Hopefully, both you and your parent will return to the caregiving relationship refreshed.
Why is respite care important?
Accessing respite care helps you to avoid a condition called “caregiver burnout” that can come with the stress of caring for an aging parent.
Originally coined by the American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in the 1970s, “burnout” was used to describe the effects of severe stress and high ideals on healthcare workers. Nowadays, we know that burnout can occur in any type of workplace and even among family caregivers.
Along with the regular demands of providing care, family caregivers experience the additional stress of a personal connection with the loved one that they care for. This can make it easy to get so focused on your many responsibilities that you don’t realize your own health and well-being are starting to suffer.
Symptoms of caregiver burnout include:
Feeling constantly anxious or overwhelmed
Sleeping too much or not enough
Having frequent headaches, pain, or illnesses
Becoming easily irritated or angry
Losing interest in activities that you used to enjoy
Feeling impatient or resentful with the person you care for
If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, reaching out for respite care might be an excellent first step.
Respite care can provide you with the opportunity to rest and recharge. You can also take this time to arrange additional support for yourself and your parent to prevent future episodes of stress.
Is respite care covered by Medicare or Medicaid?
One of the most frequently asked questions about respite care for seniors is how it gets paid for. While most types of insurance don’t provide broad coverage for respite services, there are still some options and resources available.
Private health insurance: Private health insurance does not cover respite care services.
Long-term care insurance: Coverage varies from plan to plan, but some long-term care policies do cover respite care or similar services.
Medicare: Depending on the options that your parent selected when they enrolled, Medicare covers inpatient hospital stays, outpatient services, and medications. However, respite isn’t covered for most seniors. Medicare does cover respite care for seniors enrolled in Medicare-certified hospice services. This is discussed in more detail below.
Medicaid: Although it’s funded by the federal government, Medicaid is a state-run program, so benefits depend on where your parent lives. Some states do provide assistance in paying for respite care services, including in-home support, adult day care service, and short-term care.
Caregivers can request respite care when they need time off to rest or attend to personal matters. During this time, a hospice patient can be admitted to a Medicare-certified inpatient hospice setting for up to five consecutive days. Medicare will also pay for transport to and from home.
You can still visit and be involved in your parent’s care during hospice respite care. However, you also have the opportunity to:
Tend to your own healthcare needs
Travel or attend important events
Spend time at work
Rest and recover
How to access respite for your senior parent
Parentis Health is here to support you at every step of your caregiving journey. That includes when it’s time to rest and recharge.
If you just need some extra help providing care to your senior parent at home, we have professional home care services. They can assist seniors with ongoing care needs and those who just need a quick pop-in visit now and then.
Our Verona Court residences provide short-term out-of-home respite care for seniors. Residents who join us for respite care are provided the same personalized care as our long-term residents. This includes private rooms, home-cooked meals, daily activities, and 24/7 access to professional caregivers. Contact us today to learn more about how Parentis Health can help you continue to provide the best care possible to your senior parent.