Understanding Senior Respite Care

What is Respite Care?

(A guest article for Tower Lodge by Rivka H)

Caregivers are often on call 24/7 without much time for themselves. While being a caregiver can be rewarding and fulfilling, it can simultaneously be draining and stressful. Respite care is designed to give caregivers a break, during which time they can look after themselves so that they are able to give of their best.

If you are a caregiver and feel that you need a little time off to refresh yourself, you can look into establishing a respite schedule. This simply means that someone else takes on your duties while you are away.

Remember that it is almost impossible to care for your loved one entirely on your own, especially if you are caring full time. Furthermore, respite care actually benefits your loved one by helping them acclimatize to having different caregivers. That benefits them in situations when you might not be available and makes them less dependent on one single caregiver. This in and of itself is an added bonus of a respite schedule, since it reduces the emotional pressures of feeling that you always have to be available.

Who is eligible for respite care?

If you are the primary caregiver for seniors, people with special needs or disabilities, or those with physical or emotional issues, you are eligible for respite. It is especially important to take respite if you develop health problems or are feeling burned out or depressed due to your responsibilities.

How long is respite?

Respite has no specific length. You can decide how long your break needs to be. It can be just one afternoon or a week-long vacation. The aim of respite is to support you in your role as a caregiver, so you can plan the break at your own discretion.

Who cares for my loved one when I am away?

There are two main types of respite: in home respite and respite services (out of the home).

In home respite: This is where a different caregiver takes your place in the home. Often you can turn to family and friends to step in, but if that is not an option you can explore hiring professional respite care services. These usually come with a charge and may be covered by Medicaid or Medicare, depending on the state. The benefit of in home respite is that it minimizes the amount of disturbance to your loved one.

Respite services:  Respite services include adult day care centers and healthcare facilities where you can leave your loved one while you are away. You can also explore leaving your loved one is a residential facility, a good option for when you respite lasts a little longer.

Other respite options: If none of these options work for you, there are a number of volunteer groups and non-profit organizations who will provide relief.

Respite is an important part of a caregiver’s life and should not be viewed in a negative light. Make sure to take care of yourself so that you are well and able to care for your loved one.

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