How Long Is Respite Care? A Caregiver’s Guide to Respite Hours
If you’re a caregiver for an aging, ill, or disabled family member, you know just how tough this job can be.
Offering round-the-clock assistance to someone who needs a lot of help can be a physically and emotionally demanding job.
That’s why many caregivers turn to respite care for relief.
Respite care can take many forms, from having an aide stop by your home a few times a week to enrolling your family member in an adult day care center to moving them into an assisted living facility for longer-term stays.
But how many hours of respite care are you allowed? Is there a limit to how much time your family member can spend in respite care?
It’s a bit of a tricky question, but we’ll answer it for you — plus we’ll fill you in on different respite care and financing options for seniors.
Disclaimer: The content in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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How Many Hours of Respite Care Are You Allowed?
In general, there is no limit to the amount of respite care an individual can receive. This may vary from one facility to another, but most places welcome respite care patients for as long as they need to stay or receive aid.
It also depends on your financial situation. Some people may have insurance that helps pay for respite care. And depending on your insurance plan, you could be allowed a set number of hours per week, month, or year.
For others whose insurance doesn’t cover respite care, they may be limited by what their budget or their family’s finances will allow.
3 Respite Care Options for Seniors
If you need a small break from caring for the senior in your life and are searching for respite care options, there are three main categories to choose from.
#1: Long-Term Facility
Some senior living communities offer respite services allowing people to stay overnight for a set number of days. This is a great option for caregivers who are going on vacation or have some other extended need for assistance.
Not all residential communities offer respite care programs. So if you think you’ll need those services in the future, it’s a good idea to plan ahead and find a place for your loved one.
Senior Services of America communities offer many different levels of care — including respite care.
Our program gives caregivers the chance to:
- Reduce stress
- Restore energy; and
- Keep their lives in balance
Many senior living communities offer several options for short-term stays. When receiving respite care at one of our communities, your loved one will have access to the full range of services and amenities, including dining, activities, and outings.
If you need occasional relief from your responsibilities, using the respite care services available at senior living communities can support and strengthen your ability to be a caregiver.
How Many Hours of Respite Care Are You Allowed in a Long-Term Facility?
How long is respite care in these types of facilities?
There is no upper limit. Your loved one is welcome to stay for as long as they need.
In long-term facilities, you should be more concerned about what the minimum stay is. It will vary from community to community, but you are often required to receive respite care services for at least one week up to one month — so be sure to check with the long-term care facilities in your area.
If that minimum stay is longer than you need (or can afford), you may want to look into one of these other options.
#2: Adult Day Care
Adult day cares may take many different forms, from senior centers to church programs to county facilities. The CDC reports that there are over 4,000 adult day care centers across the country, so chances are there may be one near you.
Adult day cares usually provide daytime services to older people whose caregivers work outside of the home each day.
Seniors may spend the day:
- Eating snacks and lunch
- Socializing with friends
- Enjoying activities like crafts and games
- Going on outings
These centers can provide personal care services and assistance for those who need it. They’re a great choice for caregivers with full-time jobs or even those who are home a lot but need time during the week to run errands, go to appointments, and more.
How Many Hours of Respite Care Are You Allowed in Adult Day Care?
The amount of time your loved one can spend at an adult day care is limited to their hours of operation. Most centers like these are open Monday through Friday in the daytime, and the seniors who go there may spend up to 8–10 hours per day enjoying the services.
Some adult day cares may also be open at night or on the weekends to provide respite for caregivers who don’t work a 9 to 5 job.
#3: At-Home Care
Another option for working caregivers — or those who may just need a little extra help — is using professional at-home caregivers. The service you use may opt to send a basic aide if your loved one just needs help with things like grooming, mobility, or getting food.
If medications need to be dispensed or other medical needs are involved, they will use a home healthcare aide instead. These professionals have more advanced training and are certified to provide medical care.
How Many Hours of Respite Care Are You Allowed in At-Home Care?
While in-home aides are limited by the number of hours they can work, there’s no limit to the amount of time you can use respite care services (as long as you’re willing to have different people coming into your home to cover different shifts).
You can work out the care schedule with the home healthcare company you choose. Some people may only need occasional help, while others may have a regular schedule of a few hours per week, weekday assistance, or even overnight stays.
Does Insurance Cover Respite Care?
Respite care coverage depends on the type of insurance the senior has and the state they live in.
Someone who is in hospice care — or needs medical treatment or rehab at a skilled nursing facility — will usually have their respite care covered by Medicaid because it is deemed medically necessary.
But if, for example, someone is going to an assisted living facility for respite care because their family is going out of town, that won’t be covered by Medicaid. However, these kinds of services may be covered by private, long-term care insurance.
The bottom line is that you need to research what your specific insurance plan allows in terms of respite care and how many hours of it they’ll pay for.
Most people who receive respite care pay for it out of pocket. But there are financial assistance options your family may qualify for, especially if you’re under a certain financial threshold. These programs can vary by state, so look into what’s available in your area.
For the most part, Medicare does not cover respite care.
However, they will usually pay for a stay of up to five days at a nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or hospital for someone in hospice care.
Medicaid’s general benefits program doesn’t cover respite care at all.
But many states offer waiver programs that may help cover the costs. You should check the Medicaid guidelines and waiver programs available in your state to see if you can receive respite care benefits.
4 Additional Financial Options for Making Respite Care More Affordable for as Long as You Need It
#1: Veterans Benefits
Respite care is part of the Veterans Health Administration Standard Medical Benefits Package. This means that all enrolled veterans are eligible if they have a clinical need for respite assistance. Services may also vary by location, so as always, check to see what’s available in your area.
There may be a co-pay for respite care based on the VA service-connected disability status and financial status of the person receiving the services. Veterans should complete an application for extended care benefits to find out how much they’ll have to pay.
#2: Long-Term Care Insurance
Private long-term care insurance often covers respite care services. Each policy may have different benefits, so check with your insurance company to find out the details of your plan.
#3: Life Insurance
Life insurance benefits usually aren’t accessible until after the policyholder dies. However, sometimes there are ways to access the funds while the person is still alive if there is a need.
Some families who couldn’t otherwise afford it use this to pay for respite care. There are pros and cons to doing this, so be sure to consider those before making an early withdrawal of funds.
#4: Local Resources
There are some organizations — such as senior centers and churches — that provide adult daycare services on a sliding fee scale. These may be more prevalent in low-income areas that have extra government funding for senior services.
You should be able to put out some feelers in your area to discover if local resources can provide you with respite care assistance.
Senior Services of America: Providing Safe, Reliable Respite Care for Senior Adults
Whether you need respite care, assisted living, or memory care, a Senior Services of America community can give you a comfortable and inviting place to stay — just like home. Our proven operating systems and trusted processes create the highest-quality senior programs that are tailored to each community.
If you’d like to explore any of our services, including respite care, contact us for information about a community near you.