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Respite Care
Respite Care Offers Family Caregivers a Temporary Break

Family Caregiving

Caregiving is an isolating experience and respite gives family caregivers the much-needed break. The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP (2009) national survey (updated 2012) shows close to 65.9 million family caregivers in the US. Over half (56%) are caring for someone under age 75.

The value of caregiver services estimated at $450 billion per year in 2009 - up from $375 billion in 2007. (Valuing the Invaluable: 2011 Update, The Economic Value of Family Caregiving. AARP Public Policy Institute) - Updated: November 2012.

Unpaid family caregivers are largest source of long-term care services in the U.S., and the aging population 65+ will more than double between the years 2000 and 2030, increasing to 71.5 million from 35.1 million in 2000. ([Coughlin, J., (2010). Estimating the Impact of Caregiving and Employment on Well-Being: Outcomes & Insights in Health Management, Vol. 2; Issue 1) - Updated: November 2012

The amount of unpaid caregiving services ranks almost as high as Medicare spending - $579.9 billion in 2011 (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid).

How Respite Care Helps Families

Respite care gives family caregivers a temporary break and rest from giving care. Using respite services gives support and strengthens a caregiver to continue supporting their loved ones.

Studies on respite care show it improves family functioning, satisfaction with life, coping with stress, and attitudes toward the family member needing care. When asked, families of a child with a disability, 74% reported that respite improved their care given; 35% of the respite users agreed that without respite care services they would consider out-of-home-placement for the relative needing care.

When to use Respite Care

Respite Care for Families
Respite Care for Families

Respite care is the best way a family caregiver can take time out for herself. It's the needed break to relax or do something for oneself.

  • When a family caregiver becomes ill
  • A time for required family travel
  • A family vacation
  • When a caregiver feels stressed-out
  • Urgent business comes up
  • During a time of emergency or a disaster
  • When you want to check out an assisted living facility--allows you to use the services without a long-term agreement or committment.
  • Spend time with friends and family
  • A chance to relax
  • Time to take care of errands such as shopping, exercising, getting a haircut or going to the doctor
  • Comfort and peace of mind knowing that your loved one is spending time with another caring individual

Caregiver Self-assessment Questionnaire

The challenges that a family caregiver faces has substantial impact on their physical and emotional health. Caregivers ignore the signs and symptoms of stress. The self-assessment test helps you identify whether you're experiencing the symptoms associated with high levels of physical and emotional stress. If you are, contact your primary care doctor for an appointment and take the questionnaire with you to discuss next steps. For your convenience, here is the self-test American Medical Association's Caregiver Self-Assessment Questionnaire.

Respite care services offers the person needing care to:

  • Interact with others having similar experiences
  • Spend time in a safe, supportive environment
  • Participate in activities designed to match personal abilities and needs
  • Results Found When Caregivers of the Elderly Use Respite
  • Respite for the elderly loved ones with chronic illnesses or disabilities resulted in fewer hospital admissions for acute medical care.

Benefits of Respite Care

  • 64% of family caregivers of elderly loved ones receive 4 hours of respite per week and reported improved physical health,
  • 78% improved emotional health,
  • 50% found improvement in their loved one,
  • 40% said they're less likely to look for out-of-home placement because respite.
  • In a study in Oklahoma, caregivers also reported lower levels of stress and better psychological well-being and:
  • 88% agreed that respite allowed their loved one to remain at home,
  • 98% felt that respite helped them give better care,
  • 98% enjoyed a less stressful environment,
  • 79.5% found that respite helped their marriage.

Respite Care in Assisted Living

Assisted living and residential care facilities offer short-term options for an overnight stay, for a few days or a few weeks. Overnight care gives family caregivers a break. When a family member leaves on vacation, assisted living is a good option for a loved one's care. It's a supervised stay in a safe environment. The cost for these services varies and is usually not covered by insurance or Medicare.

Respite services offered:

  • Three delicious home-cooked meals a day
  • Daily personal care
  • Medication management
  • Daily activities that benefit the mind, body and spirit
  • A caring, trained staff available 24-hours a day
  • Housekeeping and laundry services
  • Furnished apartment
  • Respite Care for Unexpected Situations
  • Emergencies
  • Unplanned situations
  • Unexpected trips

All create a need for immediate care by an alternative caregiver.

Try providers out in a non-emergency situation, so you're ready if the need arises. Remember to talk with people you trust - family, friends and neighbors - about helping out in an emergency.

Have a contact information list made out for your loved one and their medical team--listing all current medications (with dosage and frequency taken).

Caregiver Resources

Eldercare Locator - a national directory of community services - (800) 677-1116

Family Caregiver Alliance - (415) 434-3388

Medicare Hotline - (800) 633-4227

National Alliance for Caregiving - (301) 718-8444

Carol Marak
Carol Marak

After seven years of helping her aging parents, Carol Marak has become a dedicated senior care writer. Since 2007, she has been doing the research to find answers to common concerns: housing, aging and health, staying safe and independent, and planning long-term.