What is respite care, and why is it important?
Respite care is an essential but often neglected aspect of caregiving. For various reasons, many do not stop to consider respite care when they need to take a break from caregiving. Or, those who don’t understand respite care may not appreciate the benefits it offers.
So, what exactly is respite care?
To begin with, it is something temporary and usually short-term. These breaks can be as short as an afternoon to a few weeks. Some family caregivers take frequent respite care break, while others might only use it once. It can even be a routinely scheduled service for extra support.
Respite care is so important because it allows caregivers (especially those with a large number of responsibilities to juggle) a chance to catch their breath and asses their own needs. It can relieve symptoms of caregiver burnout so that upon return, you feel refreshed and back in control.
According to a study from the Commonwealth Fund, 60% of family caregivers between the ages of 19-64 claim to be in “fair or poor health” with one or more chronic conditions. Just 33% of non-caregivers reported these things. [i]
Some caregivers may feel that they should be able to handle everything on their plate. Others might feel guilty about leaving their loved one in the care of someone else. In addition to other emotional, physical, mental, and financial pressures, caregiving can become overwhelming.
With this in mind, it’s essential for family caregivers to allow themselves a chance to recharge by caring for themselves makes them more effective caregivers. Respite care also helps promote a balance in other areas of life as well. Furthermore, marriages, work, home, and social lives can be vulnerable to the effects of caregiver burnout.
Respite care is the chance for family caregivers to take a break and care for themselves while their loved ones continue to receive focused attention in a positive environment.
What are the benefits?
Self-care and managing your well-being is key to staying on top of your duties as a caregiver.
While it may be challenging to make time for yourself, regular (and even anticipated) downtime away from your caregiving responsibilities prevent exhaustion, isolation, and feelings of being overwhelmed. [ii]
During respite care, some people might take a much-needed vacation, while others might use their time catching up on other tasks. However you spend your time, the focus is on revitalizing yourself and coming back feeling more fulfilled.
Respite care doesn’t just benefit family caregivers, however. Seniors left in the care of respite care centers also have the opportunity for a change of scenery while taking part in social and educational activities and making new friends [iii]
Here are some of the benefits of respite care:
- Renewal and relaxation help improve mood and lower your heart rate.
- Energy. Letting yourself recharge lets you keep up with your busy life.
- Space. Even if it’s for a day, giving yourself space from caregiving helps you relax.
- Pleasure. There is no reason to feel bad for taking a break. You deserve to enjoy yourself as much as anyone else.
- Identity. Stepping away from caregiving allows you to renew your purpose. Likewise, you can continue developing your sense of self.
- Perspective. Time spent away from caregiving might help give you a new set of eyes, so you see new ways of providing care and think more creatively about your situation.
- Engagement. A major problem for caregivers is isolation. Allowing yourself to have fun with friends and family will help alleviate this issue.
Types of respite care
Respite care is available in the home, at senior daycare centers, or even residential programs. [iv]
- Home respite care provides services to assist with personal hygiene, dressing, feeding, taking medications in addition to companionship. Home care workers can read books aloud, play cards, or simply chat. This type of care is beneficial for those with dementia or similar diseases.
- Senior Daycare Facilities are best for relatively independent elders, though staff members still help with smaller things such as taking medicine or administering insulin shots. This type of respite care is ideal for family caregivers who work. Activities to entertain and stimulate seniors’ minds are scheduled every day and are great for providing social interaction.
- Residential Programs offer short-term, overnight, or emergency caregiving help for those who need respite care. Hospitals, nursing facilities, or group homes typically offer these programs. Unfortunately, most insurances do not cover overnight stays, but long-term care insurance or veteran programs might provide some assistance.
You may be able to visit different centers to meet staff members and help your loved one become accustomed to the idea of respite care. [v]
Cost and coverage
The average price of respite care in the US is about $77,380 per year.
In Massachusetts, the yearly median is $126,290. That’s between $10,223 and $19,140 per month, with an average cost of $15,051. Each day can run from $341 to $638, with an average of $502. [vi]
As a result of the high out-of-pocket costs, many may not consider using these services. But there are options to help offset some of the expenses, such as coverage for short term care.
From Medicare.gov’s website:
If your usual caregiver (like a family member) needs a rest, you can get inpatient respite care in a Medicare-approved facility (like a hospice inpatient facility, hospital, or nursing home). Your hospice provider will arrange this for you. You can stay up to 5 days each time you get respite care. You can get respite care more than once, but it can only on an occasional basis.
Medicaid coverage varies depending on your state. Otherwise, check out PACE (Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) and the Home and Community-Based Care Services (HCBS) program to learn more about offsetting the costs.
Other agencies who can help you find financial aid include:
- The ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center
- Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs)
- Respite voucher programs in your state
Alternatively, finding another caregiver to step in when you need it, adult day care programs, and respite programs offer a more affordable way to maintain your loved one’s well-being. Research local support groups for caregivers where you can find resources and information for additional sources. [vii]
How should I approach the topic with my loved one? [viii]
Your loved one may hesitate to receive care from someone besides yourself. They may feel like they are losing their independence as well as other negative emotions.
It can be a difficult decision; however, taking care of yourself is just as important.
Since it can be such an emotionally-charged subject, show respect by recognizing their feelings and relieving their concerns.
Choose an appropriate time and place to discuss it, such as on a random day for lunch. Do what you can to take emotion out of the situation.
While it may be true that this isn’t the only challenging topic you will discuss with your loved one; it can still be tricky. In conversations like these, let your loved one find their own solution. Lead the discussion with questions that might help them better accept your idea.
But before you even sit down to discuss respite care, do some research. Bring a list of local respite services to share and have answers when they seem uncertain. Listen to what they want and make sure they know you want the same thing.
Let your loved one know the ways it benefits both of you. Talk about how respite care improves relationships and makes you a better caregiver. With this in mind, you can approach it from a different angle and help them look at the topic differently.
Enlisting the help from someone close to your loved one might also help them accept your wishes more easily. Reach out to close friends, other family members, doctor, or religious leader.
Most importantly, don’t let negative emotions stop you from taking care of your health. Taking a step back doesn’t mean you love your parent any less. You will both benefit from it in the long run.
Respite care with MeetCaregivers?
MeetCaregivers can help provide qualified professionals to assist with whatever respite care needs you may have.
Finding the perfect match for you or your loved one will ensure your peace of mind and make sure they are in the best possible care.
Read our post about hiring through MeetCaregivers and reach out if you are interested in learning more about our services.
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[i] A. (2015, March 04). 7 Benefits of Respite Care: A Physical and Emotional Oasis for Caregivers. Retrieved July 1, 2019, from https://www.saundershouse.org/article/3/4/2015/7-benefits-respite-care-physical-and-emotional-oasis-caregivers
[iii] Yamin-Garone, M. S. (2018, October 20). SeniorHomes.com. Retrieved July 1, 2019, from https://www.seniorhomes.com/respite-care/
[v] How to Approach Your Loved One with Respite Care. (n.d.). Retrieved July 1, 2019, from https://www.aging.com/how-to-approach-your-loved-one-with-respite-care/
[vi] SeniorAdvice.com. (2019, July 01). 19 Respite Care Facilities in Boston, MA – Updated June 2019. Retrieved July 1, 2019, from https://www.senioradvice.com/respite/boston-ma
[vii] Respite Care Costs | How Much Does it Cost for Respite Care in 2019? (2018, September 01). Retrieved July 1, 2019, from https://www.seniorliving.org/respite/costs/
[viii] How to Approach Your Loved One with Respite Care. (n.d.). Retrieved July 1, 2019, from https://www.aging.com/how-to-approach-your-loved-one-with-respite-care/