Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Caring for the Caregiver: TRICARE Offers Respite Care and Emotional Support

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Caring for the Caregiver: TRICARE Offers Respite Care and Emotional Support

Article excerpt

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You don't want to admit it gets overwhelming. The more it builds, the more you act like everything is OK. Focusing on your family member sometimes even leads you to ignoring your own health.

Caring for a loved one with special needs can be stressful. That's why it's important for you to take time to care for yourself, both mentally and physically. To help meet your needs, on your schedule, TRICARE offers respite care and Web-based counseling for you--the caregiver.

Respite care offers caregivers a temporary break when they are looking after a family member who needs special attention. TRICARE offers a respite benefit allowing a skilled professional to come to the home. To be considered for the respite benefit, a family member must first be registered in the TRICARE Extended Care Health Option, or ECHO. After registration in ECHO, a family can contact its assigned ECHO nurse to determine eligibility for the respite benefit.

What is ECHO?

Simply put, ECHO is the military healthcare program for those with special needs. This could include individuals diagnosed with autism, cerebral palsy, or muscular dystrophy, as some examples. Benefits under the TRICARE ECHO program are available to active duty family members.

To be eligible for ECHO, the family must first enroll its special needs member in the Exceptional Family Member Program. Each service branch has its own program and enrollment process, as well as a representative to help families with this process. Families should then contact their regional TRICARE contractor (contact information at the end of the article) for ECHO enrollment.

What's covered for respite care?

ECHO offers a home health care option, where a professional comes to the home for up to eight hours per day, five days per week. This benefit is available only to those who qualify for it. The home health care option was designed to provide much needed rest for the caregiver. …

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