Respite Care for Caregivers who Work 24/7 without Pay

Caregiver Helping Elderly Man with Shopping (NIA)

Can anyone work at a job 24/7 without a break and also not get paid? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), close to six million seniors over the age of 65 receive home health services for acute and chronic diseases. These include Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, more than five and a half million seniors are estimated to be afflicted with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Most of these chronically ill seniors are cared for by voluntary caregivers who work 24/7 without pay. These voluntary caregivers are usually family members like the spouse or children. Many of these voluntary caregivers are also over age 60 and at high risk for falling ill themselves. In fact, some of them pass away before their loved one with dementia passes away.

Medicare will not Pay for Memory Loss in a Skilled Nursing Facility

At the present, Medicare will not pay for memory loss in a short or long-term skilled nursing facility. Only if the senior with dementia needs to be hospitalized for some other medical reason, then Medicare will pay for them to go to a rehab or skilled nursing care facility for 100 days.

Respite Care is a way for a Caregiver to get some Respite

For a voluntary caregiver who works non-stop 24/7, respite care is a way for them to get some respite for a few hours, a few days or a few weeks. Respite care is a chance for an overburdened caregiver to get a break by being replaced temporarily by someone else to care for their loved one. There are various kinds of respite care.

Respite Care and In-home Care Services

Respite care via in-home care services gives a caregiver a break by being temporarily replaced by a professional or volunteer caregiver who will come to watch over someone with a chronic illness or dementia in their home. This can free the voluntary caregiver to catch up on chores, shop, relax with friends, keep medical appointments or to go away on a holiday.

In our blog post July 26, 2019 we wrote about how robots can bring respite to caregivers. This is a fascinating new field and of course a robot never needs respite.

Respite Care and Adult Day Care Centers

Adult day care centers provide care for seniors with dementia who can participate in all kinds of activities like music and crafts outside of their home during the day. This allows the caregiver time off every week day to rest, shop, go to medical and dental appointments or meet with family and friends during day time hours.

Respite Care in Residential Care Facilities

Respite care in residential care facilities not only gives a caregiver a chance for a break, but also can be a kind of vacation for a person with  chronic illness. Here, in a warm and caring atmosphere with all kinds of fun and recreational activities, your loved one has a chance to socialize, make new friends and learn new skills. Many people with chronic illnesses are homebound, but here is a chance to leave home for a while and have a nice time. However, sometimes people with dementia have a “fear of the new” phobia and may not want to leave home.

The Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York

The Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York offers great respite care. Van Duyn also has a fantastic array of recreational programs and activities tailored for each resident’s needs. Read more about recreational therapy and activities at Van Duyn in our blog post from July 11, 2018.

Help with Financing

Paying for respite care is by the hour, number of days or weeks.

Most insurance companies will not pay for respite care. However, Medicare will cover most of the cost for up to five consecutive days of respite care in a hospital or skilled nursing facility for a person receiving hospice care. Medicaid also may offer assistance.

Caregivers who need financial help to cover the costs of these kinds of respite solutions can contact the local Alzheimer’s Association branch to find out just what kind of assistance is available. They have a 24/7 Helpline: 1.800.272.3900 you can phone to find out how to contact your local chapter. More financing information is available from the National Institute on Aging (NIA).

Feeling Overwhelmed with Guilt

Sometimes caregivers, especially close family members, feel overwhelmed with guilt about needing respite care. However, there is a Me Time Monday movement by the Alzheimer’s Association for caregivers to encourage them to look after themselves and not to feel guilty if they need to use respite care.


Respite care fills the need for a voluntary caregiver to have a break from their 24/7 unpaid job.

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