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Respite Care Costs

Caregiving can be demanding. It can require a lot of time and energy; and, unless you find a way to get a break from it now and then, you will burn out. That is why respite care is so important. Primary caregivers can use respite care to receive a much-needed break from caregiving responsibilities. Respite care can be anything from a few hours to a few days or even weeks. It can be planned well in advance, or it can be used to assist you during a crisis situation. It gives you a chance to get away and relax, to enjoy friends, to regroup, to run errands, to take care of other responsibilities and to take care of yourself. Respite care can be provided in the home, at an adult day care center or in a senior care community.

You have several choices when it comes to respite care, some which may or may not be accessible to you depending upon your location and the services available in your area. These include:

  • Bringing a caregiver into your home to provide one-on-one care
  • Using an adult day care or day stay program
  • Utilizing a respite program in a senior care community

Let’s briefly look at each of these.

When bringing a caregiver into your home, you can use a caregiving agency to provide the caregiving services required, use an agency such as Eldercare Locator to find a caregiver, run an ad in the newspaper to find a caregiver or enlist the help of family and friends. This type of care could be arranged to take place during a few hours one day or for multiple days or even weeks. It could be for just one occasion or arrangements could be made for care to be provided on an ongoing basis, from a few hours to whole days each week.

Adult day care or day stay programs provide a break to caregivers during the day only (with the care recipient returning home late afternoon or evening each day), and generally only five days a week during the normal work week. These programs provide social activities, meals, health services and therapeutic services. Locations are generally community- or facility-based. Adult day care can be used from one to five days a week, with savings often offered for those who regularly use the services for the full week. Transportation to and from the care location may be available.

Respite programs in a senior care community can be anywhere from a few hours on a given day to a month-long stay. Longer stays are often used as a trial run to see how well the older adult adapts to life within the community.

Average Respite Care Cost

Because of all the options available and the length of time variations (a few hours for a single day to multiple weeks), it can be difficult to define an average cost of care. Additionally, where fewer care options are available and more difficult to locate, the costs can be substantially higher. On the bright side, however, respite care provided by family and friends may come without a price tag and be completely free of charge.

Daily Respite Care Cost

According to data compiled by CareScout in 2017, the national average daily cost of bringing someone into your home (homemaker services) was $131, bringing a home health aide into your home was $135 and adult day care services were $70. The average daily cost for an assisted living facility was $123, but since the stay is of a temporary nature, there may be additional fees.

For those who require medically necessary care that is somehow provided in the home (perhaps you or a family member is a nurse), respite care would then need to be provided in a skilled nursing facility. The daily cost of skilled nursing care averaged between $235 for a semi-private room and $267 for a private room.

Monthly Respite Care Cost

According to data compiled by CareScout in 2017, the national average monthly cost of bringing someone into your home (homemaker services) was $3,994, bringing a home health aide into your home was $4,099 and adult day care services were $1,517. The average monthly cost for an assisted living facility was $3,750, but, again, since the stay is of a temporary nature, there may be additional fees.

For those who require medically necessary care, respite care would need to be provided in a skilled nursing facility which averaged $7,148 for a semi-private room and $8,121 for a private room.

Annual Respite Care Cost

According to data compiled by CareScout in 2017, the national average annual cost of bringing someone into your home (homemaker services) was $47,934, bringing a home health aide into your home was $49,192 and adult day care services were $18,200. The average annual cost for an assisted living facility was $45,000, but, again, since the stay is of a temporary nature there may be additional fees.

For those who require medically necessary care, respite care would be provided in a skilled nursing facility which annually averaged $85,775 for a semi-private room and $97,455 for a private room.

The above figures give you a basic idea of the rates you might expect to pay for respite care; however, your costs will best be determined when you come up with a specific care program for your location and situation.

The Genworth cost of care survey may be able to help you plan for expenses related to long-term elder care including respite care. Their cost of care calculator outlines the costs of various eldercare options for each state, with the ability to project costs out many years in advance.

How to Pay for Respite Care Costs

Respite care is usually charged by the hour or by the number of days services are provided. The costs are typically not covered by insurance plans; although, some long-term care insurance plans may cover some or all of the costs. The funds to cover the cost of most respite care will come from personal savings.

Does Medicare Cover Respite Care Costs?

Medicare coverage for respite care is associated with hospice care; therefore, an individual must meet requirements for Medicare-covered hospice care to receive respite care. For those under hospice care, Medicare Part A may cover temporary respite care (you may be responsible for five percent of the Medicare-approved inpatient respite care cost) in an approved facility for up to five days on an occasional basis. There is no limit to the number of times this service may be used.

Does Medicaid Cover Respite Care Costs?

Because Medicaid provides each state considerable latitude when designing and implementing their coverage options, each state will administer the program differently.

For those that qualify, the Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) program may cover the cost of respite care. Unlike, Medicare, PACE is not limited to hospice care scenarios. To see if your state participates in the PACE program, click here.

Eligible recipients should also investigate receiving respite care through waivers under Medicaid’s Home and Community-Based Care Services (HCBS) waiver program.

Additional Ways to Pay for Respite Care Costs

The following agencies may be able to provide funding or help you find funding to pay for respite care.

  • ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center has a created a compilation of state funding information for caregivers.
  • 2-1-1 is a free and confidential service that helps people locate the local resources and funding they need. In times of crisis, when respite care is needed immediately, they may be able to help since they can be contacted 24/7.
  • By combining the efforts of the Administration on Aging and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) helps to streamline access to care options, including respite care.
  • Some states may run voucher programs to pay for respite care providing a set amount of money each quarter. Do an internet search on “respite voucher programs in (your state)” to find the programs that are available to you. Note that vouchers must be applied for every quarter and are often on a first-come, first-served basis. Receiving vouchers may mean that you can’t qualify for other programs to receive funding.

You may be able to take advantage of several funding sources, but it will take some effort to determine what you qualify for.  Other sources may include long-term care insurance, veterans’ benefits and tax credits. Caregiver support groups may also be able to point you in the direction of local funding sources.

If after applying for a government-funded program, your application is denied, you may want to consider appealing the decision. But the appeal must be made quickly – within ten days of receipt of the denial letter.

Are Respite Care Costs Tax Deductible?

Only the cost of actual medical care in a facility is tax deductible as a medical expense, not the cost of meals and lodging. Check the IRS Publication 502 to determine what is and is not deductible.

Where to Find Respite Care

Finding respite care does not have to be difficult. Finding the right respite care provider for your situation may take a little trial and effort on your part, however, so keep trying until you find what works for you. Caregiver agencies, such as Home Instead and Visiting Angels, abound. These are national agencies, but there are also many smaller agencies located in cities and towns across the country. If you choose to use an agency, you may have to try several until you find the right one for you.

Begin by using our directory which provides details on more than 75,000 senior care options, including respite care in your area. Use the search function to find the option that best meets your needs and criteria.

If you are unable to locate what you need in our extensive directory, you can turn to the following agencies which can also assist you as you search for the right respite care provider for your situation.

  • ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center has a national service locator to provide assistance in locating services in your community.
  • Eldercare Locator is a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging that helps locate services related to eldercare including respite care.
  • The Area Agency on Aging can help locate eldercare services and aging resources in your area.
  • The Senior Companions organization matches volunteers (age 55+) with seniors who need assistance.
  • Interfaith Caregivers, a United Way, faith-based organization, provides respite care in many communities.
  • With Elder Helpers, prescreened volunteers provide services free of charge.
  • Insurance companies and health care providers can often provide recommendations for respite care providers in your area.

Other Resources for Respite Care

Other resources concerning respite care that you may find helpful include:

  • The Well Spouse Association is a membership organization that provides peer support and education concerning the special challenges and unique issues “well” spouses face every day.

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