How Can Respite Care Help Avoid Caregiver Burnout?


What is respite care?

Merriam-Webster defines respite as “a short period of time when you are able to stop doing something that is difficult or unpleasant or when something difficult or unpleasant stops or is delayed.” Many of us know caregiving can be unpleasant and difficult at times and a ‘rest’ from these responsibilities can be necessary. How can respite care help?

The National Institute on Aging states that respite care provides short-term relief for primary caregivers. It can be arranged for just an afternoon or for several days or weeks.

Who needs respite care? Sometimes family caregivers aren’t ready to transition their loved one to a long-term care setting, but they need temporary relief from their duties to take a vacation, go to appointments or simply relax. Respite care can help—it allows older adults and people with illnesses or disabilities to get the attention and support they need while also providing primary caretakers with a much-needed break or respite. Such care may even help prevent caregiver burnout.

What are the different types of respite care?

In-Home Respite Care/Homecare provides assistance and support in a person’s home.  A professional caregiver comes to the house to help the primary caregiver for a few hours or full-time over a brief period.

Adult Day Centers are non-residential facilities that support the health and social needs of older adults. These centers provide day-to-day oversight, and seniors can socialize while receiving care. Meanwhile, the primary caregiver has time to do things such as work, run errands, or simply enjoy some time off.

Short Term Respite Care is what many people think of when they hear the word “respite.” A respite stay in a senior living community provides caregivers with temporary rest from daily caregiving responsibilities, allowing the person needing care to continue to receive oversight and supervision in a safe environment. The older adults are cared for during the day and overnight. This is especially helpful when the caregiver plans a trip away.

Who pays for respite care?

Like any other healthcare service, respite care coverage differs from plan to plan. Some health insurance plans may only cover a portion of respite care, and some might not cover it at all. Call the insurance company and speak with a representative to learn more about what coverage your plan provides. Medicare or Medicaid coverage of respite care can also vary. Although, terminally ill seniors may qualify for hospice care covered by Medicare and some respite care on an intermittent basis. For Medicare to pay for respite care, the senior must first meet Medicare’s requirements for hospice. For many people, however, respite care is an out-of-pocket expense.

Respite care can be a manageable and sustainable option for families who need help with caregiving but aren’t ready for long-term institutionalized care. Caregivers who need a break or support should not feel guilty, and respite care may offer the primary caregiver the chance to de-stress, restore their physical and mental energy, and keep their own life in balance.

Hurley Elder Care Law can discuss various care options with you and your family. Our experienced elder law attorneys and on-staff care coordinators often have these conversations with our clients and help create a plan for care needs. Please call our office at 404-843-0121 for a complimentary phone consultation to discuss your situation.


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