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Senior man in a wheelchair with a respite caregiverRespite Care

Providing constant care for a senior, terminally or chronically ill family member, or a disabled friend is a generous and loving act, but it can also be stressful, tiring, overwhelming, time consuming, financially challenging and emotionally draining.  Respite programs provide a much-needed break from the daily challenges of caregiving and are designed to support the physical and emotional health of the caregiver.


In This Respite Care Article:

What Is Respite Care
Is Respite Care Right For You
Where To Find Respite Care

What is Respite Care?

Respite care is a short-term care option that provides primary caregivers, such as family members and friends, with the opportunity to take care of other responsibilities, have time for themselves or simply catch up on sleep.  The purpose of this type of care is to allow temporary, short-term breaks in a manner that maintains the level of care needed by the senior or terminally ill patient, while allowing the primary caregiver to manage other aspects of their life.

Social services agencies that provide relief caregivers do so with the understanding that this practice can reduce the chance of elder abuse or neglect, delay the need for assisted living placement, sustain the primary caregiver’s health and overall wellbeing, and assist in supporting family relationships.

There are both in-home and out-of-home relief care options, which allow the patients and their families to choose which is best for their particular situation. In-home, short-term caregiving options provide temporary care in the person’s home. These home-based programs are often provided through nursing agencies, and information is available through your local senior services program. With this form of care, the patient can remain in the comfort of familiar surroundings, and some programs offer relevant services that are not directly tied to providing care to the patient, such as housekeeping tasks, which provide additional support to the caregiver. Short-term, in-home care can be scheduled as needed or can be prearranged to occur on a regular schedule.

Out-of-home temporary care options require the patient to be transported to a hospital, assisted living center or other facility, and to adjust to new surroundings and new people; however, depending on the level of care required, this may be a more viable solution for some families in need of short-term care.

Is Respite Care Right for You?

If you find that simple, necessary tasks like grocery shopping, paying bills or picking up your dry cleaning are becoming more difficult to accomplish, it might be time to consider respite care, which can benefit you and your loved one. Relief care provides the opportunity to achieve a workable balance between caregiving and the primary caregiver’s personal life, which can be particularly important if the caregiver has children, a job or other responsibilities.

If you, your partner or another member of your family are the primary caregiver or caregivers for a loved one, it is okay to recognize that breaks are needed. You are not letting your loved one down if you arrange for a caregiving professional to assist you so that you can take care of the needs of other family members or yourself. Your health and wellbeing are integral to your ability to continue to provide the level of care your loved one requires, which means you must take care of yourself as well.

Where to Find Respite Care

Respite Care options vary depending on where you live, but most people can access respite caregivers through their local senior services agency, which should have a list of local programs and agencies providing this type of care. Medicare may cover some of the costs associated with relief care and is another resource for learning more about the various care options available in your area. In some cities, social services programs or private organizations offer assistance in paying for relief care providers or can provide caregivers at little or no cost.

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