Paying for Respite CarePaying for Respite Care

Most of us would love to have more time and more money, especially when we’re taking care of parents. The next best thing is a break from caregiving that doesn’t break your budget. There are several types of paid respite care that can help you out and a there are a few options for paying for respite care. Even if you don’t feel like you need help now, it’s a good idea to know your options in case you need help on short notice later.

In-home care

In-home care is the easiest type of respite care to tailor to your household schedule. By working with a licensed agency, you can arrange care to get a break when you need it. For example, a respite caregiver in the home for a couple of hours every morning can help get your parent get dressed and eat breakfast while you get ready for work or help your kids get ready for school. Overnight respite care can be a lifesaver when your parent needs round the clock help and you need to sleep. Having a caregiver you can call on will also take some of the stress out of being sick or needing to travel.

The national median daily rate for a full-time in-home health aide was $127 in 2016. The hourly rate ranges from $10 to $30. If your parent needs help with activities of daily living, Medicaid, the VA’s Aid & Attendance program, and private long-term care insurance all pay for in-home care. If you’re using Medicaid or Aid & Attendance, make sure to see if the program is certified by them. And if you’re helping your parent start an Aid & Attendance application with the VA, know that the approval process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a year.

Adult day programs

Adult day programs typically provide a mix of social activities and health services for seniors at a community center or house of worship. These programs usually run during business hours on weekdays, anywhere from one to five days a week. That makes adult day programs a good option for families who need a caregiving break to work outside the home, attend school, or care for small children at home during the day.

In 2016, the median national day rate for adult day care was $68, according to Genworth, but many communities charge on a sliding scale to help lower-income families pay for care. Medicaid recipients may be able to find covered day programs in some areas. Contact your state’s Medicaid office to find out what Medicaid-approved day programs are available near you. If your parent has long-term care insurance and needs help with activities of daily living or requires supervision, their policy likely covers adult day programs.

Residential respite care

When you need a longer break – a few days or weeks – residential respite care can provide round the clock care and ease your concerns about being away from your parent. Many assisted living, dementia-care, and nursing-home communities offer onsite respite care when they have beds available. The cost varies from one facility to the next, but the national median daily rates in 2016 were $119 for assisted living and $253 for a private nursing home room.

If your parent is on Medicaid, you’ll need to find a Medicaid-certified facility in order for their respite care to be covered. The VA’s Aid & Attendance benefit for low-income veterans may also cover residential respite care. Long-term care insurance typically covers residential care. Keep in mind that most long-term care policies have caps on the total amount of time spent in assisted living or a nursing home, and onsite respite care may count toward that total.

Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelance writer whose childhood was made awesome by her grandmothers, great-grandmother, great-aunts and -uncles, and their friends.


  1. emma July 20, 2017 Reply

    This is a great guide! We actually just hired a respite in home caregiver to come to our home a few times a month so my husband and I can take a date night and spend time with the kids. We find’t know it was an option before! Stuff like this really needs to become more talked about! Thanks!

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