Page Reviewed / Updated - Feb. 2014
Caregiver respite programs provide trained caregivers that attend to an individual in need of care to give their primary caregiver time to relax and attend to their own needs. Care is provided by 3rd party agencies which are funded by grants from two national organizations; the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America and the Alzheimer’s Association.
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) provides “Family Respite Care Grants” by funding local, non-profit, member organizations. These organizations work directly with the families to administer the grants. These local organizations sometimes combine funds with other sources so the name “Family Respite Care Grants” may not always be used by each chapter.
The Alzheimer’s Association (AA) has a Respite Grant Program which is also administered by the local chapters not the national organization.
Alone, respite care is not a solution to paying for senior care, but when combined with other care options and tax credits, respite care might make the difference that enables an Alzheimer’s patient to continue receiving care in the home instead of moving to a residential community.
One must check with their local member organization or chapter to determine availability and final eligibility. What follows are typical eligibility requirements.
Some chapters require that the care recipient (the person with an Alzheimer's or dementia diagnosis) be at least 60 years of age. However, rarely are individuals requiring help denied assistance based solely on their age.
Care recipients must have a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or related memory loss disorder such as vascular dementia, FTD, Lewy Body, Pick’s, Multi-Infarct, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Most Alzheimer’s Association chapters that offer respite care require that the caregiver not be receiving respite funds from other agencies. They also require that there be a “financial need” however what this means can vary broadly. One program that does discuss their financial requirements published that the care recipient’s annual income must be less than $40,000 a year and their assets less than $100,000.
The Alzheimer Foundation of America does not publish requirements other than to say acceptance is based on need.
Typically, the local chapters or member organizations require one to live in the geographic area served by their organization. To be clear, one cannot simply request assistance from multiple chapters or member organization in order to receive more assistance.
Some possible additional eligibility requirements are:
Respite care assistance is provided in grants, usually as a dollar value but sometimes as a number of respite care hours. Grants are typically in the form of voucher which can then be redeemed for respite care services from pre-approved providers. Very rarely are grants provided as cash.
Grant amounts vary by chapter, by year and with the availability of funding. They can be monthly, annual or one-time. It is not unusual for grants to be valued at between $500 - $1,000.
Usually there is no cost associated with respite care grants; however some programs require a co-pay for the grant amount. For example, they may grant $500 of respite care for a 20% co-pay. Said another way, a family pays $100 and in return receives $500 worth of care.
Typically the application process is as follows, a caregiver completes an application which is reviewed and either accepted or denied. If accepted the caregiver receives a letter or voucher that tells them the amount of respite time or dollars they have been granted . The caregiver then chooses from a pre-approved list of respite caregivers and arranges the logistical details with them directly. After completing their work, the respite care providers bill the grant provider directly.
The Alzheimer’s Association chapters take approximately 4 weeks to determine if an application is approved for funding. The AFA members estimate 6-8 weeks to reach a decision.
Families can obtain a grant application for respite care from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of American by contacting a participating AFA nonprofit member organization. Find a local Alzheimer’s Foundation of American member organization here.
Respite care from the Alzheimer’s Association is administered at the local Chapter level with each Chapter having different application processes. Find your Alzheimer’s Association local Chapter.