Respite Services: Giving Caregivers a Break

Caring for a loved one with a long-term illness is a 24/7 job. Caregivers need occasional time away from their responsibilities to rejuvenate, pursue personal interests, or socialize. Respite services give caregivers that opportunity.

There are many different types of respite services:

  • Round-the-clock. Assisted living facilities and nursing homes may provide overnight, weekend, and longer respite services for caregivers who need an extended period of time off. Not all assisted living facilities and nursing homes accept people for short-term stays, however, so contact your local facility.

  • Adult day care. If a caregiver works, an adult day care facility can help. Adult day care facilities provide care and companionship outside of the home and give seniors the chance to interact with peers. The facility can provide social or therapeutic activities. Some day care facilities are especially designed for Alzheimer's patients.

  • In-home care. If you don't want your loved one to have to leave your home, you can take advantage of one of the many in-home services that may be available. In-home care can involve a large range of services, including companionship services to help entertain your loved one, services to help the caregiver do housekeeping chores, personal care services, and skilled/medical care services. In addition, you can have someone come in to stay with your loved one while you work or for longer stays when you need to be out of town.

The cost of respite services varies from service to service. Medicare does not pay for these services, but Medicaid may pay for adult day care services. There may be other federal or state help available. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging for more information.

To find respite services, go to or contact your local Area Agency on Aging. If you are caring for an Alzheimer's patient, your local Alzheimer's Association chapter may have support groups and other help for caregivers.