What is Respite Care for the Elderly?

Respite care can be used to supplement care for seniors recovering from a hospital visit, or simply to give their caretaker some time for themselves. Whatever the reason, looking after a loved one can be a full-time job, and caregivers should never feel guilty for wanting a break. Read on to learn what the purpose and the benefits of respite care are, and why it’s important.

What is Respite Care for the Elderly?

Respite care for the elderly is a form of temporary relief for an older adult’s primary caregiver, who is typically a family member. Respite care allows the caregiver to transfer the care of their aging loved one to a senior living community or in-home nurse. 

Respite caregivers come to your loved one’s home to help with tasks such as going to doctor’s appointments, picking up prescriptions, grocery shopping as well as meal preparation, and light housekeeping duties. There are a variety of skill levels for respite caregivers, from nurses to home health aids, or simply assistants. 

In addition to standard companion care, respite care is available for memory care patients. There are respite care providers who specialize and are licensed in these areas. All respite caregivers are typically trained to collaborate with the primary caregiver(s) to understand and help resolve any concerns and encourage open communication with other family members to accurately assess the respite needs.

How Long Does Respite Care Last?

Respite care can last anywhere from a few hours or a few weeks, depending on the circumstances. Typically, it can be made available as long as necessary. In some cases, respite care is used to provide care during a predetermined length of time, such as a caregiver’s vacation. It can also be used during unplanned scenarios, like an emergency with another family member, in which case the timeline is a bit up in the air.

What is the Difference Between Respite Care and Hospice?

Hospice care is considered a type of respite care specifically for those with a terminal illness. Hospice is different from other forms of respite care because it usually requires a recommendation from a doctor stating the individual needs end-of-life care. Because of the level of skilled nursing required in hospice care, caregivers typically rely on insurance to help pay for the service. Not all hospice facilities offer respite care — sometimes, hospice care is a permanent transfer of care.

What is the Purpose and the Benefits of Respite Care?

The purpose of respite care is to give caregivers time for themselves without sacrificing the quality of care for their loved one. Caring for an aging family member is a truly selfless act, but it can be a draining responsibility. It’s crucial that caregivers remember to take care of themselves so they maintain their own health, both mentally and physically.

The Benefits: Why is Respite Care Important for Families?

Respite care can be extremely beneficial for the facilitation of healthy and happy relationships between family members. Here are some of the main advantages that respite care for the elderly can bring caregivers and their other family members:

Maintain Other Important Relationships

Unfortunately, there’s only so much time in a day. Many caregivers have partners, children, and full-time jobs in addition to their caregiver duties. Time spent taking care of their elderly loved one typically means time away from their other loved ones. It’s important for caregivers to dedicate time to maintain their other relationships.

Preserving Their Sense of Self

When caregiving becomes the thing that takes up the majority of a caregiver’s time, it can be challenging for them to have a personal life outside of family members. Prioritizing the care of a loved one above your own hobbies and interests is an admirable quality. Sometimes, it’s necessary to do so — but not always. Taking the time to catch up with a friend or practice a skill you’ve worked hard to develop isn’t a selfish or silly reason to lean on respite care. In fact, it provides some much-needed balance to a caregiver’s life.

Reducing Resentment

Being a caregiver to someone means you, at the very least, see them every day. Even though you love each other, it’s usually the people we’re closest to that push our buttons the most. It’s also likely that the caregiver was once the person being cared for in the relationship. It can be stressful to navigate this shift in dynamics, especially when the older adult wishes to preserve their independence as much as possible. Semi-regular time apart can have a huge impact on reducing tension or resentment between the caregiver and their loved one.

Avoiding Burn Out

Perhaps the most important benefit of respite care for the elderly is preventing caregiver burnout, which is a pretty common issue. In fact, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP Public Policy Institute survey, 40% of caregivers feel emotionally stressed. Having adequate rest and relaxation is important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle for caregivers and the older adult they care for.

How to Get Started with Respite Care

While Medicare does not cover respite care in most cases, there are funding options that may be available. A great resource to find options is www.211.org — a free and confidential service that helps people across the country find local resources for many situations. You can also contact your state and/or federal Elder Care Offices or the Aging and Disability Resource Center in your state to access respite care options. Many states also offer coverage through Medicaid and some have separate caregiver support programs known as 1915C Home and Community-Based Waivers.

Have Questions About Respite Care for the Elderly?

Being a primary caregiver for your loved one is a rewarding and loving experience. However, to be the best you can be, you need to take care of yourself, too: respite care may be the answer! 

New Perspective provides respite care in the form of assisted living. To get started on a care consultation, find the location closest to you. If you have questions about caring for an elderly loved one, or what housing option might be best, reach out to New Perspective today.