Reed: Respite care: Everybody needs a break

Sandra W. Reed
Special to the Reporter

This week I watched the movie "Iris" again. The film is the moving story of John’s

Bailey’s caring for his wife, famous author and lecturer, Iris Murdoch, as she suffered and died from dementia. The movie presents a stark reminder of the stress that caregivers face, putting them near or to the breaking point. At one point, John becomes so distraught he explodes into a hurtful tirade against Iris before dissolving into tears and regret.

Since Medicare does not cover help with bathing, dressing and related care, preparation of meals, help with shopping, laundry and errands, family members often take on these responsibilities themselves with little or no outside help.

These primary caregivers are susceptible to burn out if they do not take time off from the burden of care. Caregivers need to plan ways to relieve the stress from providing services to loved ones with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Without relief, caregivers often suffer mental and physical debilitations themselves related to the strain.

Sandra Reed

Respite care provides a safe haven

Respite care is a service that provides short-term relief for primary caregivers whereby

someone else takes over for a given period. Providers are available for a few hours, a few days or a few weeks. In most communities, services can be provided at home, in a healthcare facility or at an adult day care center. Services are charged by the hour, number of days or weeks.

Medicare does not pay for respite care

Unfortunately, neither Medicare, Medi-Gap policies nor most other insurance plans will

pay for respite care. An exception occurs when the patient is receiving hospice care. In that case,  Medicare will pay up to 5 days in a row for respite care in a hospital or skilled nursing home facility.

Learn more about respite care

A helpful resource for those seeking more information about respite care can be found at From that site, seekers can explore the ARCH National Respite Network, a locator service for respite care providers in their areas. A search for services within 50 miles of Glen Rose, Texas 76043 brings up 20 sources for assistance in Granbury, Weatherford, Fort Worth and Mansfield.

Sandra W. Reed practices Elder Law in Somervell County, handling probating of estates, drafting of wills, trusts, powers of attorney and deeds as well as estate and Medicaid planning. She lives on beautiful Chalk Mountain and can be reached at 254.797.0211; 817.946.2809 or at