Respite Program for Caregivers

Vicki Clear
Friday, February 19, 2021

Respite provides family caregivers a break from the extraordinary demands of providing ongoing care for their loved ones. It is a service designed to meet the respite needs of family caregivers thereby reducing stress caused by the demands of providing ongoing care. These services may be giving a break to the caregiver for short periods of time, transportation, emotional support, running errands, recreation, or leisure activities for the individual or caregiver, or other related activity. Respite may be provided to an individual in their own home, in the home of the respite provider, or in appropriate locations relating to the above-mentioned services.

The Montana Lifespan Respite Voucher Program and the Dementia/Alzheimer’s Voucher Program provide opportunities for family and individual caregivers with limited resources to obtain financial assistance to get a break from their caregiving responsibilities. Both programs are very similar. The differences are:

— The Lifespan Respite Voucher covers the lifespan of individuals regardless of special need. Family income for individuals under 18, and the individual’s income for individuals over 18, is requested to determine if a co-pay is possible. Voucher maximum is $600 per calendar year.

— The Dementia/Alzheimer’s Voucher covers individuals with some type of memory loss, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s etc. Income information is not required. Voucher maximum is $800 per calendar year.

Both voucher programs allow the caregiver to hire anyone over 18 and not living with either the individual or the caregiver to provide respite for them. They may also use an agency or use a facility to provide out-of-home respite, or they may use a combination of both. Both are reimbursement programs, and the caregiver is responsible to pay their respite provider either before turning their reimbursement in or after they have received their reimbursement check.

New this year, both voucher programs are offering to purchase products that can help ease anxiety, entertain, challenge, or simply pass the time such as robotic pets, weighted blankets, fidget blankets, educational toys, puzzle books, etc. While the individual is using these items, it will allow the caregiver additional respite time without having to leave the home.

The Lifespan Respite Voucher Program and the Dementia/Alzheimer’s Voucher Program are managed and implemented by DEAP in Miles City through contracts with the Senior and Long-Term Care Division of the Department of Public Health and Human Services of Montana.

At the Lifespan Respite Program, we believe that every caregiver should use respite for their health and the health of the loved one they care for. If you know someone caring for a loved one that could use a break from time to time, tell them about respite or have them give me a call at 406-234-6034.

(Vicki Clear is a Lifespan Respite Care Coordinator.)

(Editor’s Note: This column is part of an ongoing series about dementia.)

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