What Is Respite Care?

Aug 29, 2016

What Is Respite Care?

Share Article

You have been the primary caregiver to your parent for the last 6 months and have not had a break. You feel as though you are overwhelmed, stressed, and exhausted. You notice that the care you are providing is beginning to suffer. You are irritable, and sometimes feel like you are trapped in this situation. What exactly is happening here? You are experiencing caregiver burnout. Respite care is an option available to help eliminate the chance of this occurring or give you time so that you can recover.

What Is Respite Care?

Respite care is a short-term service provided by a health care agency that gives a primary caregiver a break from providing care. This service comes in many forms, but the true intention is to give the caregiver a break and/or prevent burnout.

Being a caregiver to a parent is a huge responsibility, and you are selfless for doing it. The problem is that there is often not much time left for you. Respite care gives you the opportunity to have time to yourself, such as an evening out with friends or vacation for a week, as well as just allowing you to have time for everyday errands like grocery shopping or getting your car serviced.

How to Choose Respite Care Providers

While you are interviewing possible candidates or visiting locations, bring your parent along so they can let you know if they feel comfortable or not. The point of respite care is to provide relief for both the caregiver and receiver of care, so if your parent is miserable with the decision, then respite really wasn’t achieved. It is also essential to determine what exactly is needed. What are the ins and outs of care that your parent needs? Is special training necessary? Having a complete understanding of what is needed will hopefully make the process go smoothly.

Types of Respite Care

There are a number of different types of respite care. To begin with, there are in-home and out-of-home respite care options. The type that you chose depends entirely on your situation, what you and your parent are comfortable with, and the exact needs that are required to be taken care of.

In-Home Respite Care

Family Relief and Support

This is a more informal type of respite care. It is when you work with your other family members to determine the needs of the senior and how the family can help you with the workload. Sometimes working with family can be tough, and there are differences in opinion of what constitutes as helping, but anything is usually better than nothing. Make sure that communication is open and everyone is honest about what they are able to do: having resentment towards others will only make things worse.

There are additional options besides having family members help. There are opportunities to “trade off” duties with another caregiver. You would provide care to both their parent and yours while they have off, and then they will do the same for you. This gives both families the chance to have a break while the other cares for the parents.

Volunteer or Paid Companionship

This is very helpful especially over a few hours during the day. Volunteers can come from religious organizations, non-profit organizations, or even high school students needing community service hours. Paid companionship would be anyone that would require payment to spend time with your senior, such as neighbors or independent care providers.

Home Care or Personal care

This type of respite care can be used when you want to take a more professional approach to finding someone to provide respite care. They work in agencies and can provide anything from skilled medical care to helping with daily activities. The benefit is that if the caregiver is sick or unable to care for your parent, the agency will send someone else. There is no need for you to find someone else at the last minute during your time off.

Online Caregiver Communities and Workshops

These are something for the caregiver specifically. Not only does it give you the opportunity to see that others are in the same situation, but they can also provide support and resources that you may not have on your own.

Out-of-Home Respite Care

Adult Daycare Programs

Adult daycare programs are for seniors who cannot manage by themselves or for those that have become isolated and lonely and need social exposure. They are typically open Monday through Friday during the day allowing caregivers the time that they need for work or personal time. The programs typically offer a cheerful environment with meals, snacks, and engaging activities provided.

Residential Respite Care

This type of respite care can be done in an emergency of planned basis and can be in group homes, hospitals, nursing homes, or specialized facilities. They offer temporary care for different amounts of time and can provide respite care to you 24 hours a day.

Caregiver Support Groups

These are very helpful for when you need respite care but don’t really know how to start. They are relatively similar to online communities and workshops, but support groups typically take place in person and are an outlet for venting, communication, and assistance.

Why Choose Respite Care?

Respite care exists so that the caregiver and receiver of care are at the best that they can be. It is important to make sure that respite care is done before you are burnt out and maybe even on a reoccurring basis. Having an outlet can make your life better, allow you to provide better care, and allow your parent to have the best care at all times. It is important to set some time aside for you, and respite care allows this to happen.

Please enter a comment.
Please enter a name.
Please enter a valid email address in the form "name@domain.com".
Please check the box to the left of "I'm not a robot".

Frequently Asked Questions

My sister has been the primary caregiver for our father for the past year and has recently become apathetic. What can I do?

Apathy in one common sign of compassion fatigue and is common among those who work in the caregiving industry. While it is different than burnout, many of the signs and symptoms are similar. If you are able, try to alleviate some of your sister’s responsibilities by filling in and allowing her to practice some self-care as well. Also, do not be afraid to point her in the direction of a caregiver support group. There are many great resources available to help with compassion fatigue.

See All Answers »

My father has lived in the same house for over 50 years, so he's reluctant to leave. How do I talk to him about moving to a senior care community?

When people grow attached to a familiar setting, moving to a senior care community can be a difficult subject, especially when caregiving is involved. To avoid excessive stress for you and your loved one, there are ways to bring up "the move" to elderly parents. Remember to remain honest and address any concerns your father may have. Prepare yourself for resistance. 

Have you checked out our Is It Time to Seek Senior Care Checklist? This resources will help you decide if it really is the right time for your senior to move out. This may be something that you want to bring to a meeting with your senior to show them some reasons why it may not be safe for them to live independently anymore.

See All Answers »

Search By State

Find Senior Caring Options by State
Finding the perfect senior care community is only part of making your loved one’s senior living transition smooth. At SeniorCaring, we know that it is also equally important to be aware of what other community services and resources are available to your family’s senior. Choose your location and find local resources for your senior.