Medicare Your Coverage Options

Respite care: Medicare may pay for you to take a break when caring for a loved one

Written by Diane Archer

It can be very stressful as well as physically demanding to take care of anyone, particularly someone you love. In some cases, Medicare will cover the cost of a loved one’s care so that caregivers can take a break. To qualify for Medicare respite care, the person you are caring for must:

  1. Have a life-threatening illness
  2. Be enrolled in the Medicare hospice program.  (Here are three things to consider about hospice care)

If your loved one qualifies, Medicare will pay for him or her to stay in a Medicare-certified skilled nursing facility or a Medicare-approved hospital for up to five days at a time. For more information, visit  

If your loved one does not have a life-threatening illness or is not enrolled in the Medicare hospice program, there still may be community services available to allow you to take a rest from caregiving. Contact your local area agency on aging to learn about community resources, including adult day services. Visit for the agency nearest you and click Get Help to learn about free and low-cost services available to older adults.


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