How to Find Low Cost, Affordable Respite Care

When there are no free respite programs... it's time to find a bargain. Be diligent, resourceful, and negotiate.

By Clare Absher RN, BSN  

  Need help finding care?

  Need help finding care?

When you have exhausted the search for free respite programs then the next sensible approach is to find low cost, affordable respite care. When contacting in-home care agencies to compare pricing and negotiate better rates, be savvy and vigilant. Being informed on the various kinds of respite will help you and your family determine how to allocate funds wisely. Make a respite plan of care that optimizes available volunteer hours in conjunction with paid caregivers. Most importantly, design and strategize a respite care schedule that affords you, the caregiver, the most relief. Implement one or more of the following 12 ideas to make respite practical and affordable.

  1. Hire a companion to visit Mom via an agency for just a few hours weekly to give yourself small breaks. Find agencies that offer 2-3 hours minimums.
  2. Ask a neighbor to sit with your mother once or twice a week while you run a few errands or get some quiet personal time.
  3. Designate a day each week for Dad’s retired friend to take him shopping or to the barber while you get some reading time.
  4. Negotiate a fair nighttime rate and employ a respite provider for 1 or 2 nights a week to stay with your elderly loved one, so you can get caught up on your sleep.
  5. Ask your siblings, who do not participate in caregiving, to donate to Dad’s caregiving fund. Hire a live-in caregiver with the caregiving funds to stay with him for a week, while you go on a well-deserved family vacation.
  6. Enlist your long-distance relatives to come to town for a week and fill in while you visit your children and/or grandchildren. Don’t let out of town family off the hook when they can contribute on occasion.
  7. Negotiate a fair daytime rate for long-term care of your loved one while you cover night-time hours, to avoid the need for round the clock care.
  8. Split shifts of in-home caregivers to reduce costs and give yourself the most relief. For example, you may schedule help for two hours in the mornings for personal care, exercises, and breakfast and two hours in the evening for a walk, dinner, and bedtime.
  9. Locate an agency that offers fair daily live-in caregiver rates to cover for you while you go away on a weekend trip. Keep in mind that the caregiver will need their own personal space (room, bed, etc.) while staying to care for your elderly loved one.
  10. Employ the appropriate staff for the task required for the times and duties that you, as the family caregiver, need the most relief. Hire homemaker and companion services for duties such as meal preparation, chores, and transportation. Pricier CNAs should be utilized for tasks such as bathing and toileting needs.
  11. Combine volunteer help with paid caregivers to offset the costs for your parent’s care. For example, employ a CNA for two hours of personal care in a.m. and schedule family members to rotate p.m. visits to prepare dinner and assist with bedtime.
  12. Hire less costly private duty caregivers for your loved one to reduce the costs incurred by contracting with an agency.

Heed caution with private hires: your role as an employer may not be what you had in mind! Refer to Must-Know Questions & Answers about Hiring a Private Caregiver.

Don't overlook Adult Day Care! It can be a very good deal, and possibly your best option for respite care.

Lastly, don't forget that adult day care is one of the best bargains for respite care. Adult day care offers respite on a part-time or full-time basis with supervised social activities, meals, and assistance with personal hygiene. Some families are able to drop off their elderly love ones occasionally, to get a break from daily caregiving responsibilities. Others receive respite 5 days a week for an elderly parent who has qualifying cognitive, and/or physical impairment who would otherwise need nursing-home care. Be advised that day care options, regulations, and costs vary greatly from state to state. Some programs are as inexpensive as $25 for a half day or up to $150 for a full day. Even at the high end of day care costs, they are still less costly than in-home care. The National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA) is the leading voice of this rapidly growing industry and sponsors a database to search for adult daycare in your area.

Respite is not an indulgence, so don't feel guilty!

Lastly, remember that respite care is not an indulgence. Respite is widely recognized as vital to one's well-being and hopefully will be accepted (by all parties involved) without any unfounded guilt. Keep in mind that respite should be tailored, for the most part, to your needs as the caregiver. You are not acting extravagantly or selfishly as a family caregiver when taking a much-needed break from your duties. Taking respite does not equate to being neglectful to your loved one's needs. On the contrary, respite usually results in enhancing your loved one's care while alleviating your stress at the same time. Respite is sustaining, nourishing, and revitalizing. Respite care allows you take care of yourself and in turn your loved one will benefit by having a healthy caregiver. It's a win-win for both… so relax and let go of your guilt!

Clare Absher RN BSN

About the Author

Clare Absher is a Registered Nurse with 44 years of experience. Most of her experience is in home health serving as a caregiver, educator, patient advocate, and liaison between families and community resources. She has also worked in acute care, assisted living, and retirement settings. She is passionate about helping families care for their elderly loved ones at home.

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