New “Respite for ME” pilot program provides $2,000 grants to Maine people caring for a loved one with dementia or a disability
Governor Janet Mills announced today “Respite for ME”, a $5.1 million initiative of her Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan that will provide grants of up to $2,000 to Maine families who are caring for a family member at home.
This two-year pilot program, developed in partnership with five of Maine’s Area Agencies on Aging, begins on Monday, October 3.
Through “Respite for ME”, family caregivers of people living with a disability, Alzheimer’s Disease, or other related dementias may receive grants to help them access respite care for their loved one. Caregivers may also receive counseling and training, legal and financial guidance, and services to maintain their own health such as occupational and physical therapy.
“Families across Maine are doing their best to care for the people they love in the comfort of their own homes, but it isn’t always easy,” said Governor Mills. “Respite for ME will give families access to important services so they can better support themselves and their loved ones.”
“Many Maine people took on new or expanded caregiving responsibilities for parents, grandparents, spouses and other family members during the pandemic,” said Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. “These grants will help them to not only care for their loved ones at home, but also to take care of themselves. This pilot program will also help us learn how to best support family caregivers moving forward.”
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 29,000 people aged 65 and older in Maine were living with Alzheimer’s in 2020. It is estimated that 35,000 Mainers aged 65 and older will be living with the disease by 2025.
“Family caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s and other dementias face the enormous challenge of providing care and support that is often needed 24 hours a day,” said Brenda Gallant, Executive Director of the Maine Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. “The demands of caregiving can take a toll emotionally, physically, and financially and may lead to caregiver burnout. Respite for ME will provide critically needed respite services for family caregivers, strengthening their ability to be a caregiver. “
“We are excited by the opportunity to help even more caregivers in the state of Maine,” said Megan Walton, Executive Director at the Southern Maine Area Agency on Aging (SMAA). “Here at SMAA, we know that so many individuals care day in and day out for their loved ones in our community. Through the Respite for ME initiative, Maine can demonstrate its values and ensure that all caregivers have the support, care, and relief they need.”
The eligibility criteria for Respite for ME aligns with the National Family Caregiver Support Program. In general, a caregiver must be an adult who is not otherwise receiving payment for the care provided.
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will use the pilot program to evaluate what services are most effective in supporting families going forward.
As part of that evaluation, DHHS will also use TCARE® (Tailored Caregiver Assessment and Referral), an evidence-based, nationally validated tool already used by 32 other states to identify sources of caregiver burden and stress and to recommend individualized services to address them.
Respite for ME and the TCARE® assessment are both available beginning October 3 at Aging and Disability Resource Centers, operated by Maine’s five Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs). For more information, contact your local AAA at 1-877-353-3771.
Respite for ME is part of the Mills Administration’s commitment to helping Maine people age safely, affordably, and in ways and settings that best serve their needs.
To help more Maine people become direct care providers, Governor Mills also included $20 million in the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan to support health care workforce training.
This includes the Caring for ME campaign to educate and encourage residents to become direct care providers serving older Mainers and people with disabilities, as well as scholarships and student loan relief to enable more people to become long-term support workers and other health professionals.
The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan is the Governor’s plan, approved by the Legislature, to invest nearly $1 billion in Federal American Rescue Plan funds to improve the lives of Maine people and families, help businesses, create good-paying jobs, and build an economy poised for future prosperity.
It draws heavily on recommendations from the Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee and the State’s 10-Year Economic Development Strategy, transforming them into real action to improve the lives of Maine people and strengthen the economy.
For more about Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, visit maine.gov/jobsplan.