Congress recently passed legislation that authorizes $289 million over a five-year period for states to increase the availability of respite care for families who care for chronically ill family members.
Respite care provides temporary relief for caregivers who take care of individuals with chronic illnesses and disabilities. Respite care may take place at home or out of the home. Respite care allows the caregiver time away from the responsibility of caring for someone who is sick and shut in.
This legislation is designed to provide family caregivers a break from their daily responsibilities for patients or loved ones who cannot adequately care for themselves. Each year over 44 million Americans care for an adult family member who has a chronic illness or disability.
Millions more Americans are charged with the responsibility of caring for younger people who are afflicted with mental retardation or other problems. According to Sen. Hillary Clinton, New York Democrat, who is sponsoring this bill with Rep. Mike Ferguson, a New Jersey Republican. “American need relief from the physical and financial toll of caring for their loved ones”. This Bill will close the income gap that presently exists.
The relief for caregivers can be in many variations. To alleviate the constant stress and financial drain, Congress wants to fill the void in the area of respite care for all families who need time away to
rejuvenate from caring for loved ones.
Volunteers are available from agencies that can also take patients to adult day care centers where they are supervised for several hours per day. These services are available but they do not fill the total need of the family.
Most families who are not considered low income must set up their own respite care arrangements. These families receive no help from the government or non-profit agencies. They have to pay for these services out of their own pockets. Private health insurance will not cover the cost of respite time. The care is custodial rather than medical.
The care that is available from most governmental agencies is aimed at low-income families or non- family members who care for the elderly. The bill would expand those restrictions so that more services would be available for patients at any age or income level.
Congress has not yet appropriated the funds for these expanded offerings. There are other sources available that can help. Some of these organizations focus on particular illnesses.
The Alzheimer’s Association – offers respite services in several communities and information and referrals in other communities. The Alzheimer’s Association has a 24-hour help line at 800-272-3900 or you can contact them at their website http://www. alz.org. Each chapter provides information on some kind of respite care.
Elder Care Locators – People caring for older relatives should also contact the Elder Care Locator at 800-677-1116 which is run by the US Administration on Aging. There are state and local offices on aging that also have information on respite care availability.
There is additional help at non-profit Family Caregiver Alliance at 800-445-8106 or on their website at caregiver.org. The map on the website indicates where publicly funded services are available.
Respite care is necessary for families who care for Alzheimer’s patients. It is believed that families benefit as much as the patient. Respite Care helps prevent abuse and neglect. The availability of such care for caregivers can reduce costly institutionalization. find a caregiver near me