Even though many families have had direct experience with senior living communities, there are a number of myths and misconceptions that still persist. For instance, they may not be aware that, in addition to offering care on an ongoing basis, residences also admit seniors for short-term stays. Rather than moving in because of a need for long-term care, seniors can find brief accommodations at retirement communities in the event of an emergency that leaves them without a home or in need of closer attention for a short period.
Relieving caregiver burdens
The need for a short stay can be prompted by a variety of circumstances. One common situation is when a senior is benefiting from family caregiving, but the person providing care needs a short break. This may be because of an urgent matter that they need to attend to out of town, an event that will keep them from checking in on their loved one, or simply the need for a break from the stress of caregiving. Some family members may be reluctant to admit that they need time away from their loved one, but respite stays can work to the benefit of everyone.
Caregiving is usually a rewarding experience, but it can also be stressful. A poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that the majority of caregivers report feeling both of these emotions about providing care for their loved one. While 83 percent reported that caregiving had been a positive experience, just over half said that it had also caused stress in the family. Around 40 percent said that it had taken time away from family or work and nearly 30 percent reported that it had taken a toll on their finances. Respite stays can help relieve these pressures, allowing all family members to benefit from the experience without feeling as much of the burden. After all, a tired caregiver isn't likely to be doing his or her best for a loved one.
In some cases, short-term stays can be initiated by a more urgent need. Following a hospitalization, seniors may need more assistance than they can provide for themselves or family caregivers can offer. In that case, many choose to use the services of a skilled nursing facility.
Unlike most retirement community costs, many aspects of short-term stays of this kind are covered by Medicare, according to the U.S. News & World Report. After a hospital stay of at least three days, Medicare coverage can pay for up to 100 days of convalescent care at a senior community. However, it's important to be sure that the stay is covered first, because it also has to take place in a community that's specifically approved under the program. In these circumstances, Medicare can sometimes cover short periods of in-home care as well. As with skilled nursing facilities, it's best to check that the service is covered first, since Medicare regulations may change.