Caregivers for loved ones with Alzheimer's disease (AD) often experience significant stress caused by their daily caregiving responsibilities. Some caregivers who feel the need for respite may be able to rely on family or friends to assume their caregiving responsibilities for a brief period of time at no monetary cost. Some caregivers may live near facilities or organizations where they can enroll their loved ones in social day care programs which would then allow caregivers a period of respite each week. Costs for such programs vary around the country. Similarly, some assisted living facilities and adult homes may admit a person with AD for a limited number of days to permit the caregiver to have some respite, but such facilities may charge a considerable fee for such a service.
However, there are some programs that provide periods of respite for AD caregivers at no cost. Readers who want to learn more about these programs should go to the websites of these organizations to learn more.
The National Administration on Aging (http://www.aoa.gov/AoARoot/AoA_Programs/HCLTC/Caregiver/index.aspx) provides information on respite opportunities that may be available to you through their National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP). This program funds state partnerships with community service groups to provide support for family caregivers. Another federal government site, Alzheimer's Help (http://www.alzheimers.gov/help.html) also provides information for AD caregivers about respite opportunities, with suggested contact information for additional organizations.
The Senior Companion program (http://www.seniorcorps.org/rsvp/senior-companions/) is one of several programs provided by Senior Corps, a national volunteer program that coordinates volunteers aged 55 and over to provide assistance in their local communities. If your community has such a program, volunteers may be able to provide free respite for AD caregivers by providing several hours supervising loved ones or helping with household chores.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (http://www.caregiver.va.gov/support/support_services.asp) offers programs designed specifically to support caregivers of veterans, including up to 30 days of respite per year, either in the caregiver's home "or through temporary placement of a Veteran at a VA Community Living Center, a VA-contracted Community Residential Care Facility, or an Adult Day Health Care Center." The VA will also provide respite care "in response to a Family Caregiver's unexpected hospitalization, a need to go out of town, or a family emergency."
State Lifespan Programs (http://archrespite.org/lifespan-programs) are offered by various states that have applied for grants provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through its Administration for Community Living. More than 30 states have already received such grants to provide respite programs. To see if your state is a recipient of a Lifespan grant, readers should go directly to the Lifespan website. Different states offer different programs.
The Family Caregiver Alliance (http://www.caregiver.org) is a non-profit organization that maintains a resource center in the San Francisco Bay area of California that provides respite opportunities. The Alliance also maintains a map with a separate Family Care Navigator (https://www.caregiver.org/family-care-navigator) where caregivers can click on their own state and be referred to specific information about caregiver respite programs available in that state.
Hope Health (http://hopehealthco.org/HopeDementiaRespite) is the largest non-profit hospice and palliative care provider in New England. Caregivers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts are able to apply for three types of respite grants ... in-home care, adult day care, and in-facility overnight care ... once each year. The in-home grant provides a nurse at no cost for three three-hour periods to allow caregivers to attend Hope Health support groups.
Road Scholar (http://www.roadscholar.org) is the nation's largest not-for-profit educational travel organization, dedicated to inspiring adults to learn, discover, and travel by enlisting world-renowned faculty and local experts to immerse participants in experiential learning activities. In 2015, Road Scholar created The Caregiver Grant (https://www.roadscholar.org/about/financial-assistance/caregiver-grants) to provide respite time for family caregivers by providing grants of up to $1300 to help offset costs of an educational travel experience. Individuals 50 and older living in the United States and currently serving as caregivers ... or caregivers who have lost loved ones within the past two years ... are eligible to apply for a grant, regardless of whether the loved one is receiving or had received home care, adult day care, hospice care, memory care, nursing home care, visiting nurses, or comparable or related services.
Caregiver Grant recipients are responsible for their own transportation to and from their travel destination, but Road Scholar will cover all other costs ... accommodations, meals, taxes, gratuities, a travel protection plan, and any fees for lectures and activities up to that $1300 amount. Specific information about Road Scholar caregiver grants, including application forms, may be found on their website.
If you would like me to respond to questions or comments about this article, please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can learn more about my journey with Alzheimer's at www.allansvann.blogspot.com where you can also read my other articles about Alzheimer's disease that have been published in caregiver magazines, medical journals, and in major newspapers. You can read my Alzheimer’s blog columns on The Huffington Post at www.huffingtonpost.com/allan-s-vann.
Published in Today’s Caregiver, February 7, 2017. Access online only at: