Respite Care 101: Care for Caregivers

Care for caregivers

At some point of the caregiving experience the caregiver might start feeling exhaustion from the high demands this labor makes them endure. I have put together all basic information a caregiver or the patient’s family needs to have a successful care process with the adequate measures in this “Respite Care 101: Care for Caregivers”. It is important to understand the magnitude in having a time to rest and regroup in the caregiver’s life.

The negative effects from not having respite care can be pretty serious on both caregiver and patient. Once a low point is reached in the caregiver’s life the consequences could go from bad to terrible in a matter of seconds. Being a caregiver means sacrificing many aspects of life but this shouldn’t mean to let yourself go.

If you don’t take time for yourself you are depriving the person you care for from your future caregiving, because when you get sick, who is going to be there? When you get angry or tired, you are going to lack of your good caregiving skills. Facts have shown that there is a 60% higher mortality rate among caregivers age 65 and older. Animosity could develop between you and the person you take care of; they begin to fight back, there is a lot of abuse that goes on from both caregiver and patient because they just get to a point where they cannot stand each other because they are deprived of normal human contact and pleasure. We have to have time for pleasure, a respite and sociability in our lives. We need to have a break from the constancy of caregiving. For the caregiver’s sake he or she must take at least one hour a day to be away from it all, do nothing related to caregiving during that time.

As hard as it may seem, some caregivers even take a vacation for even a week before the final days of their loved one to replenish and prepare themselves for what is coming. They use respite care during this time to come back refreshed from all the stress and face that difficult stage clear headed and with the stamina to endure what might come.

An you might ask, how do I know if respite care is what I need? Here is how:

  • Do you have a social life?
  • Do you feel your health and well being has been neglected.
  • Do you feel physically or mentally drained?
  • Do you get angry or frustrated easier than usual?
  • Do you feel helpless?
  • Do you think you can’t do this anymore?
  • Are you worried that if an emergency comes no one else will be able to take care of your loved one?
  • Have you lost or seen a boost in your appetite?
  • Do you feel sad all the time?
  • Do you have a constant fear of death?

If your answer is yes, or a no but kind of feels like a yes then you definitely need respite care, for all I know you could be long overdue, even if all of these questions had a negative response, respite care is needed constantly, period! There is no question about that.

Caregiving is a juggling art that only those who are well organized and use respite care can have a well balanced life for all involved. Care for your loved one but make sure your own needs are not being neglected. Even the best caregiver can have a bad day, or a bad week and burn out. Studies have constantly reported that caregivers have a great risk of developing anxiety, depression, self neglect, chronic illnesses or a cardiovascular disease. Respite care must be taken seriously and be a constant obligatory aid in any caregivers labor.

This helpful alternative for caregivers takes many forms but the sole purpose is one; to give a break to the caregiver. As I mentioned before to take at least one hour a day, every day can be highly beneficial for the caregiver’s health and well being. A time to recharge, get your mind off your caregiving duties, run errands, meet a friend for coffee, do some exercise, take yoga classes, even a weekend getaway are excellent alternatives. Depending of the severity of the caregiver’s burnout, respite care could last even a month.

Another family member can take care of your loved one and if this can’t be arranged then there are services that offer temporary support or a living arrangement for a couple of days. These services can be done in the patient’s home or in an assisted living facility in the arranged time between the caregiver and the nursing substitute either occasionally or regularly.

The reason of a respite care can alter the length of time needed, the recommended is at least an hour daily. Planning ahead requires persistence, patience and preparation and above all do not feel guilty for wanting some time for yourself. A good planning will lead to a good result on the respite care, try getting it on paper to be able to visualize your plan to know what’s needed and who to contact. The following is a plan done by Assisted Living Today that you can use or adapt to what you and your loved one needs during your break time as you find the right service and agree on costs and plan ahead for those expenses.







Spend time with spouse/partner

1 day a week

2 hours

8 hours a month

In home or out of home (care center)

Just time to relax and do nothing

2 days a week

2 hours

32 hours a month

In home or out of home (care center)

Run errands

1 day a week

2 hours

8 hours a month

In home or out of home (care center)

Weekend getaway

Every quarter (3 months)

48 hours

192 hours a year

In home or out of home (care center)




As part of this Respite Care 101 basic info, I wanted to go through everything you need to know on this important aid for a successful result in your quality of life, after all you are a hero but not a superhero. The ideal scenario of respite care is to take it before there are any signs of exhaustion. Delegating the main caregiver tasks for these periods of time does not mean you are a bad caregiver or do not care for your loved one, keep that in mind. You are taking care of yourself to care for your loved one.

The great thing about respite care is that even if your family can not help you carry the weight of caregiving there are many other options of services waiting to assist you during this time. Support groups, skills training, counseling, education, transportation and financial assistance are a good sources of help, however the one that many caregivers find as the most helpful and desired resource is some form of respite.

Back in 2006, the US passed the Lifespan Care Act to enhance respite care in all 50 states, thanks to this and all the awareness raised on the subject, respite care is confirmed as a national concern. This act has brought funding to support groups that provide these respite services. This also funds training and recruitment of respite caregivers. So if you are struggling with your budget while being a caregiver and can’t afford external caring services, check on your local community state aging office for any existing non-profit services or grants to pay for a caregiver to visit your home. Also if you are caring for a veteran, the local VA office could assist you with useful information or even caring services during your recharging time.

Some government agencies offer adult day care centers and even some churches offer this service too. In some long term care facilities they have a number of beds exclusively for respite periods. Sadly this type of service is not paid by Medicare or any private insurance, however the options mentioned above could be a good alternative of payment. There are also supply companies that will assist you in finding the right service for you and the right supplies to keep at home and make your caregiving tasks a walk in the park.

The caregiver must think of respite care as necessary and not as an indulgence, it is the responsible thing to do for the good of both you and your loved one. Dedicate that break time to you and doing things that make you happy, that boost your energy, that relaxes you. This is something that must start with you, and making the decision that can save your health.

Related Read:

What is Respite Care for Caregivers?

Caregiver Relief in action: Respite Care

Caregiver Fatigue: Not a reason to feel guilty