Page Reviewed / Updated - February 25, 2010
Caregiver respite programs provide trained caregivers that attend to an individual in need of care in order to give their primary caregiver time to relax and attend to their own needs. Care is provided by third 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 each chapter may not always use the name “Family Respite Care Grants”.
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. The criteria which follows should be used as a general guideline to help families determine if they might be eligible. Note that some eligibility criteria apply to the individual requiring care and other criteria to their primary caregiver.
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, Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Some organizations may require verification of diagnosis by a doctor.
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. Another program that discussed their financial requirements has no income requirements for eligibility.
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, which can be in the form of adult day care, in-home aides, overnight care, companion care, or short-term nursing home care, is provided in grants. This is 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 $400 - $1,200.
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 $1,000 of respite care for a 20% co-pay. Said another way, a family pays $200 and in return receives $1,000 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. In some instances, the primary caregiver pays the respite care provider and then is reimbursed.
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. There are two grants cycles annually. Applications must be received each year by June 1st or December 1st.
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.