What Is Respite Care?

older couple relaxing, sitting on bench overlooking a green, lush valley

By Alison Wood, Contributing Writer

If you are a caregiver for a loved one, you might have heard of the word “respite” or the phrase “respite care” — but you might not be sure what those terms mean.

“Respite” is a break that a caregiver takes from his or her caregiving responsibilities. “Respite care” refers to the care given to the loved one by someone else while the family caregiver is taking that break.

Respite care can be a very important strategy in a caregiving plan, as well as a true lifesaver for a family caregiver. Read on to learn just how crucial respite care can be and how you can incorporate it into your own life as a caregiver.

What are the different forms of respite care?

Respite care can mean a variety of things in practical terms. It might mean that someone takes over the caregiving role at very specific times. For example, respite care might be used to cover care during the night while the family caregiver sleeps. It could also mean providing care while the main caregiver is at work.

Respite care can also take place when the main caregiver is sick, or when he or she needs to care for other family members.

But most often, when one hears the words “respite care,” it usually refers to care that gives family caregivers the time to take care of themselves. For instance, it might provide a chance for a family caregiver to go on vacation or take a little trip. It might provide an opportunity for the caregiver to do something fun and social, such as having dinner at a restaurant with a spouse, going to a movie at a theater with friends, or spending a day at the park with their kids. Or, it could mean something as simple but still just as joyous as time to read a novel or a moment to take a walk around the block.

What duties are covered by respite care?

Respite care needs to encompass any and all of the responsibilities that the main caregiver would usually carry out. So this depends on the physical, emotional, and healthcare needs of the person being cared for.

Duties might include:

  • Personal care, such as bathing, grooming, dressing, and toileting.
  • Assistance with an exercise routine or with walking. 
  • Meal preparation and, if required, help with feeding.
  • Driving the person to medical and other appointments.
  • Medication reminders and ensuring the correct medications are taken at the appropriate times.
  • Housekeeping duties, including cleaning and laundry.
  • Care specific to health issues, such as dementia, vision problems, or diabetes, which requires an additional level of awareness and experience.

Why is respite care important?

Caregiving for a loved one is hugely rewarding, but it does come with its own stresses and difficulties. Caregiver burnout is very real —  CLICK HERE for tips on how to avoid or recover from it. A key recommendation is that caregivers use respite care in order to have the time and energy to look after themselves.

It’s also always best to be prepared and to have some respite care options available. It’s impossible to predict when you might get sick or have a family emergency — events that could take you away from your caregiver role.

While it might be obvious that respite care is particularly important for the caregiver, it also ensures that the person being cared for has continuity of care, as well as quality care. The person being cared for cannot be left to his or her own devices — nor be downright abandoned — just because a caregiver wants to take time off. And yet, that doesn’t change the fact that the caregiver deserves a break and needs that time. Respite care allows the caregiver to have that much needed time, without endangering the loved one or putting them at greater risk.

By the same token, an exhausted and depressed caregiver is not going to be able to care well for someone else. But a caregiver who feels cared for as well — healthy, energetic, revived, and refreshed — will have what it takes to care all the better for his or her loved one.

Who provides respite care?

Respite care can be offered by friends and family or by in-home professional caregivers. However, professional in-home caregiver agencies are often the better choice over “private” caregivers and even family members when it comes to providing care for your loved one. Read more regarding why that is by checking out our article on the important questions to ask when hiring a caregiver.

And while a short trip to a nursing facility might seem like the easy answer to getting respite care, the superior choice is always for a loved one to remain at home. Staying in place, in an environment that is familiar and loved, is far less stressful for the person who needs care.

In such cases, you’ll need options that provide care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Such care is rarely available from family and friends. That’s where we at Care & Comfort at Home can help with our in-home care services. Your loved one can remain in the surroundings they know and love, while you get the break you so badly need and deserve.

What sets Care & Comfort at Home apart from other agencies?

Care & Comfort at Home is not a faceless, big-business brand. Our staff members and ownership are all fully involved. Through a hands-on approach and accessibility, our management demonstrates their sincere dedication to help seniors remain living happy and healthy at home.

Our services are easy to use because our terms are easy to understand. With no minimum terms of service and no deposit required, it’s easy for you to use Care & Comfort at Home on a flexible basis, which is particularly important for respite care. You pay only for the services you actually receive, and you can stop services at any time.

It’s all about trust

We know how hard it can be to entrust the care of a loved one to someone else, and that’s why all of our Caregivers are experienced and screened professionals who thrive on a job well done.

If you live in the Chicago or Denver area and want to explore the possibilities of respite care, CLICK HERE to book a FREE, no-obligation consultation to learn more! We can help!