Why is respite care an important plan of action in caring for someone with Alzheimer’s?

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be extremely stressful. Respite care provides a needed a break from the day-to-day responsibilities and can restore the caregiver’s energy and support a balanced daily life.

Additionally, respite care can delay admission to a permanent institutional care setting, and opting for this type of care is usually easier on the family financially.

In addition to reducing stress, the benefits of respite include a sense of renewal, purpose and identity for the caregiver. It’s important for the caregiver to get out and enjoy visits with friends or other family members or attend social events and outings. Or, on a more practical front, run errands, tend to various responsibilities and attend a support group.

Respite care services can be provided by community or home health agencies, assisted living or nursing homes. Some faith-based institutions have respite care services as part of their senior citizen programs. Respite care can be five or six hours during the day, or the caregiver can enroll with a place that provides short-term stays.

Most long-term insurance policies fund these services, and individuals with Social Security disability coverage may be eligible for home health care benefits. Medicaid does not pay for respite care directly; however, some states use federal funds to compensate respite costs for individuals with specific conditions. Contact the Office of Aging and Adult Services at the Department of Health and Hospitals. Additionally, a qualified veteran may meet the criteria for Veteran’s benefits for respite care.

The benefits of respite care are equally as important for the affected individual as respite care can provide much-needed stimulation, purposeful activities and fellowship in a safe, non-threatening environment. Adult day centers locally such as Charlie’s Place, and residential settings, like Our House for Respite, offer exceptional programming to keep the individual with Alzheimer’s engaged and active, and most of all, to help maintain a quality of life for that individual. More than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. With the emotional stress very high, respite care services are an integral part of care for individuals with this devastating disease.

Questions about Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia disorder? Contact Dana Territo, the Memory Whisperer, Director of Services at Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area, (225) 334-7494, advice@alzbr.org, or visit the organization at 3772 North Blvd., Baton Rouge.