En español | I was a caregiver for eight years before I discovered respite care. Even before my husband, Matt, received a dementia diagnosis, in 2011, he was becoming forgetful and needed my assistance.
I didn’t know how our relationship would eventually change. We couldn’t banter anymore, and he was forgetting the names of family and friends. Because change makes him anxious, we stay home more. It’s been isolating.
I learned about respite care from an AARP staffer. The first day I dropped Matt off for four hours at Bethany Village, an adult care facility with a respite program called Day Club, I was so relieved. I went and got a massage with a gift certificate I’d been given. I’d never had time to do that before.
I know Matt is safe at Day Club because the people there are so incredibly competent and caring. He sits with a bunch of men, fellow veterans in their military caps. They have lunch, socialize.
When Matt is there, I can run errands, come home or have lunch with a friend. It’s wonderful to have four hours to myself to do what I wish, even if it’s mundane things on my own.
Just a few hours does wonders in restoring my energy and perspective. No one likes to ask for help, but getting respite time is critical to surviving as a caregiver.
—As told to Tracy Schorn
Fighting for Caregivers
AARP New York advocates are working for a caregiver tax credit bill that would help offset expenses like respite care. The tax credit would cover half the value of qualifying expenses, up to $3,500 per year. Last April, thanks to the efforts of AARP, the state budget included a $15 million increase in non-Medicaid in-home services.