It is easy to burn out when you are responsible for providing full-time care to an aging or disabled loved one. In some cases, caregiver burnout can result in resentment toward the individual they care for, despite their love for them.
The fact is, we all need a break sometimes. That is why respite care exists. If you are a caregiver who needs to take time for yourself, read more to learn about respite care.
What Does Respite Mean?
Taking respite means having a temporary period of rest. For primary caregivers, this typically refers to securing short-term care for your loved one – even several weeks or months – so that you can recharge amid the very real burdens of caregiving.
In finding respite, you also might make time to practice self-care, from going to the gym to connecting with friends. Do not forget to find ways to maintain your sense of self while you are in the midst of giving so much of your time and attention to someone else.
Caregivers Want Information About Respite Care
In a 2022 survey of caregivers, Caregiving in America found that most were unaware that respite care was available. Many caregivers need more education about their options for respite care and how to build a network of support to share the load of providing financial and emotional support to an ailing loved one.
Here are some of the study’s findings:
- Fifty-nine percent of respondents reported that they were the primary emotional support system for a sick or impaired loved one.
- Twenty-two percent of respondents said they worked more than 40 hours per week as the primary caregiver to a disabled family member.
- Forty-eight percent of respondents disclosed they needed emotional support for themselves.
- Forty-four percent of respondents shared that they wanted information about where to find respite care.
Caregivers need information about maintaining their own health while supporting a family member. It is essential to prioritize yourself when caring for an aging or disabled relative.
Preventing Caregiver Fatigue
The challenges of taking care of an ailing loved one can be extremely stressful. More than that, the strain of serving as a caregiver – often unpaid – can make a real and lasting impact on your own health if not kept in check.
Symptoms of burnout among caregivers may include the following:
- Losing sleep and extreme fatigue
- Feeling hopeless
- Having a quick temper
- Lack of interest in your favorite activities
If you or someone you know has taken on the responsibilities of caregiving, be aware of the signs of burnout and actively seek support. Respite care is among your potential options.
(If you are caring for a loved one with dementia, you may also be interested in learning more about avoiding burnout and other specific kinds of resources available to you.)
What Is Respite Care?
Respite care gives caretakers a chance to relax and take a break from the responsibility of providing full-time care to loved ones who are aging or disabled. Respite programs offer short-term replacement care. These providers will step in for a short period to take on the responsibility of caring for your loved one.
The types of care you can expect them to take on may include the following:
- Bathing and dressing
- Cooking and cleaning
- Helping your loved one eat, drink, and take their medication
- Getting into and out of bed
- Assistance with the restroom
- Spending quality time with your loved one
- Helping with exercise and personal care
How Much Does Respite Care Services Cost?
The cost of respite care varies depending on how long you use the service. You can schedule respite care for several days, weeks, months, or longer.
Who Pays for Respite Care?
Private insurance will typically not cover respite care, unfortunately. If your loved one is covered by Medicare or Medicaid, you may be able to secure five consecutive days of respite care. Your loved one must be receiving hospice care benefits for Medicare to cover respite care.
Finding Respite Care
Several organizations provide respite care. If your family member is covered by Medicaid, you can speak to a Medicaid planner in your state to determine what programs may be available. As mentioned above, Medicare covers respite care under its hospice benefit.
If your loved one is not covered by Medicare or Medicaid, don’t worry; there are private organizations that provide this service. These organizations include:
In addition, you may want to connect with a qualified elder law attorney in your area to talk through your options. A professional can help you determine how to pay for respite care, how your loved one might qualify for Medicaid, and more. Search online for an elder law attorney near you.