Caregiver Respite: Getting A Break When You Need It
1. A short period of rest or relief from something difficult.
Respite means getting time away for you, the caregiver, to do things for yourself, which will rejuvenate you and help come back fresh and energized.
When it comes down to it, respite is about self-care. It’s vital to take time just for yourself to avoid burnout and exhaustion.
Going too long without respite care, you are more likely to develop physical and emotional health problems. Your loved one needs you, so the worst thing you can do is burn yourself out to the point where someone else needs to take care of you now.
Caregiving is a demanding and difficult job and respite helps to maintain a healthy life-balance.
Activities such as a book club, walking/hiking, playing bridge and an exercise class, are all examples of respite. Essentially respite is about the caregiver taking care of themselves and finding additional joy and fulfillment in outside activities.
Respite should not be confused with receiving help from others for caregiving responsibility – that’s not the same as respite care.
Types of respite care services:
Informal family support and relief
Online caregiver communities and video workshops
Volunteer or paid companionship
Personal care or skilled health assistance
Adult day programs
Residential respite care
Caregiver support groups
How to Select Independent Providers
Although you are anxious for relief, taking time to find the right person is essential for your peace of mind and your loved one’s safety. Make sure you:
- Are clear about the tasks you need help with and have listed them in writing.
- Screen each candidate both over the phone as well as in person to make sure he or she is a good fit.
- Agree on a compensation schedule and pay for services after they are completed – never in advance.
- Request work and professional references and be sure to follow up with them. You can even conduct a background check. Ask your local police department, legal aid service or attorney for referrals to reputable investigators.
There are several non-profit and state agencies that will help pay for respite care. Also, some states use waivers through Medicaid to apply federal funds to offset respite costs.
To learn what is available in your area from your state, check Family Caregiver State Contacts. Research individual programs such as Medicaid, Veterans’ Benefits and your loved one’s long-term care policy for means of coverage.