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What is Respite Care?

“Respite care” or “respite” is when someone else steps in to temporarily care for the person you care for in your absence. This can be due to either a planned or emergency absence. 

The purpose of respite care is to give you as a caregiver a break from your responsibilities without fear that your loved one will be left vulnerable or alone.

At its best, respite care allows you to take time to care for yourself. As a caregiver, there will undoubtedly be times that you need to take a break or vacation, go to your own appointments, work, exercise, attend a social gathering, relax and rest, or just take a day off. 

Breaks from caregiving are essential to long-term care. Otherwise, you may experience burnout, anxiety, depression, or worsening health conditions (acute or chronic). In this article, we will discuss who needs respite care, what types of respite care exist, and the types of services respite caregivers tend to offer.

Who Needs Respite Care?

If your loved one is suffering from a chronic, physical or cognitive, or otherwise debilitating ailment, they may require care around the clock. If you attempt to provide care 24 hours a day, you won’t last long. Respite care can step in where needed to give you the space you need to breathe.

Even if caregiving is only a part-time commitment for you, respite care can still offer you much-needed time to vacation, rest, and more.

No matter what your situation looks like, it is always advised to have an emergency backup plan. In the event you cannot make it to your loved one for any reason, or something unexpected happens while you’re scheduled to be away, you should have a plan in place. Respite can offer a piece of the solution for your emergency plan.

What Types of Respite Care Exist?

There are several types of respite care. Which is right for you will depend on your situation. Here are a few examples of the different types of respite care.

Short vs. Long-Term Care

Every situation is unique and you may need either short or long-term care. Respite care is by definition temporary—you’re still the primary caregiver. 

When considering the framework of respite care, short-term respite care includes one-off or emergency assistance, and long-term care refers to recurring assistance on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. With that framework in mind, let’s dive into a few options for respite care.

Daycare centers

Daycare centers are a major resource for respite care. These are places where you can register your loved one and drop them off on an as-needed or recurring basis to give them a safe place to be outside of the home.

Home care from a paid caregiver

If you need one-off services or regular care within your home, hiring a paid caregiver to take care of your loved one in place may be a great option.

Temporary care home

If you need to leave town for a few days, or your loved one needs 24-hour monitoring, a brief stay in a care home could be the perfect option. Many care homes have nurses on-site to give you a little extra peace of mind.

Friends and family

The most affordable option is to enlist the help of family or friends. If you need an hour to go run an errand, an afternoon to attend your child’s sporting event, or anything in between, a family member or friend may be able to step in and help.

Services Offered By Professional Respite Care Facilities

Respite care is there to offer a comfortable place for your loved one to be looked after in your absence. Professional respite caregivers can watch over your loved one and help them with tasks like:

  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Feeding
  • Administering medication
  • Exercising
  • Grooming
  • Socializing
  • Getting in and out of bed
  • Entertainment
  • Transportation
  • And more.

How to Find Respite Care

The California Caregiver Resource Centers are here to help you locate services near you in California. To find more information, contact your local Center, or sign up for CareNav™ to be connected with a specialist at no cost to you.

In addition, The National Institute on Aging offers the following list of services to help you find respite care near you:

National Respite Locator Service

Well Spouse Association

800-838-0879 (toll-free)

Eldercare Locator

800-677-1116 (toll-free)

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

800-633-4227 (toll-free)

877-486-2048 (TTY/toll-free)

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