What is Respite Care

December 20, 2023
While they care for their loved ones with the best of intentions, it is not surprising that caregiver burnout is common. Between 40 and 70 percent of caregivers report clinical symptoms of depression, but even caregivers who aren’t depressed need a break sometimes. That’s where respite care comes in.

What Is Respite Care?

Respite care is the provision of short-term relief to family caregivers. The time span of respite care can vary, and you may need only few hours, but you might need a weekend of longer to rest, recharge and spend time doing something other than caring for your loved one. Respite care can also be used when you need a break for an extended period or when your loved one needs to be attended to in a specialized setting. According to the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide, as a caregiver, you should take breaks, rather than expecting or trying to be on-call 24 hours a day. People who are emotionally and physically exhausted or guilt-ridden cannot effectively provide care.
Sometimes, people enlist other family members or friends to shoulder some of the responsibility of caregiving so that they can take a break. In other cases, family caregivers partner with a professional healthcare provider to provide in-home respite care. If you are caring for your loved one, you can seek respite care so that you can run errands, go to appointments, tend to other concerns or work. On the other hand, you may want to have someone take over for a while so that you can visit with friends or just take a much-needed break. Taking some time away allows you the chance to rest, renew and refresh so that you can come back and care more effectively.

When Is It Time for Respite Care?

The best time to schedule respite care is before you face burnout. Respite care is a great option for caregivers who feel pushed to their limit, but it’s also perfect for someone who just needs a break. When you hire a professional caregiver for in-home respite care, you’re doing something that benefits your mental health and the needs of your loved one. The truth is, while caring for someone you love can be rewarding, it can also become overwhelming. What are some signs that you are approaching burnout?
  • You are not getting enough sleep. Your body needs seven to eight hours of sleep each night to renew and repair itself. If you can’t sleep because you are too busy or feeling anxious, you won’t get enough sleep to recharge, and sleep deprivation will kick in, affecting your ability to fight illness, your mental health and your energy.
  • You have a short fuse. If you find that you are short-tempered and having trouble regulating your emotions, you may be under too much stress. Don’t wait until you are lashing out at loved ones who don’t deserve it to seek help.
  • You’re not feeling well. When you’re taking care of others, it’s easy to neglect your own care. This can lead to frequent illness, an unhealthy diet, substance abuse and a lack of exercise, causing your health to begin to deteriorate. Seek help before you reach this point.
  • Negative emotions are more common than positive ones. Your emotional health can suffer when you’re overwhelmed, leading to negative feelings like depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. If you are not feeling like yourself, it’s time to take a break.
  • Your personal relationships are beginning to suffer. It is important for caregivers to have a strong support system in place. When you neglect your personal relationships, you may begin to feel isolated and disconnected. Getting a few hours of respite care can give you time to catch up with friends and nurture your relationships.
  • You don’t have time to have fun and enjoy life. Just because you are caring for a loved one doesn’t mean the rest of your life should come to an end. Respite care can help you make time for things you enjoy, whether that means going to the spa, resting and reading, getting some exercise, hanging out with friends or just catching up on your favorite TV shows.

Costs of Respite Care

There are a variety of ways to pay for in-home respite care including programs through insurance to private pay. BrightStar Care can help you determine the best way to pay for respite care. Some providers charge hourly for care, while other arrangements can be worked out by the day or week. Home-based respite care can be very affordable, and providers will often work with you to help you find the best solution for your loved one. Many insurance plans do not cover respite care, but some long-term care plans may help with the costs. Medicare does not cover long term care but may, in some cases, cover respite services. Look for other sources of assistance, including state Medicaid, and, if your loved one served in the military, the Department of Veterans Affairs.

FAQ About Respite Care

Who benefits from respite care?

While respite care is meant to provide the caregiver with temporary relief from responsibilities, it actually benefits the entire family. Sometimes, those needing care may feel like a burden on their family members, and interacting with new people can help alleviate these feelings. Having a change in routine can be good for a person receiving care, and a little bit of space in the relationship between caregiver and recipient can help improve their relationship. Decreased tension and a happier caregiver make for a more relaxed home life, which benefits everyone.

How many hours of respite care are you allowed?

Limits are only set on respite care when you are receiving assistance with the cost. If you are paying privately, you can pay for as much respite care as you like. If you have long term care insurance, your policy may cover some of your in-home care costs, so we recommend checking with your insurance provider to review your coverage.

Who pays for respite care?

Typically, respite care is an out-of-pocket expense. In some cases, Medicare will help cover it, and so will some long-term care insurance policies. Resources are available, through the Department of Veterans Affairs, state Medicaid, and other federal, state and privately funded organizations. If you are having trouble navigating the various resources, BrightStar Care is happy to help.

Will respite care fit with my schedule?

Respite care can be scheduled in a way that works for you and your loved one. While scheduling policies vary between agencies, most respite care providers will work with you to help you schedule care that will meet your needs and won’t disrupt your loved one’s routine.

Is respite care customized to fit the needs of the person receiving care?

Every care recipient is different, with a different set of needs, preferences, and limitations. That is why our high-quality care team will work with you, personalizing your loved one’s care services to meet your family’s needs. Some older people require specialized care, and this should be addressed when you are discussing arrangements with the agency. Home caregivers are trained in various types of care, and your home healthcare provider can help you find a caregiver who is exactly the right fit.

How do I know my loved one will receive quality care?

Partner with a reputable care provider, and you can be sure that your loved one is in good hands. A high-quality agency will perform background checks and do everything possible to keep your loved one safe. What’s more, leaving your loved one in the hands of professional caregivers means he or she will receive not only care, but also compassion and respect. BrightStar Care has achieved and maintains Joint Commission accreditation, holding to the quality standards of the healthcare organization that also accredits the nation’s top hospitals and major healthcare systems.

BrightStar Care® of Alrington / Alexandria is Local

Looking for in-home care services or assisted living for your loved one or a reliable medical staffing partner for your organization? Our experienced local care team members are ready to help. Contact us online, or call 866.618.7827 to speak with a local care expert and learn more about how BrightStar Care offers A Higher Standard®. It will be a pleasure to meet you and your family, and we look forward to providing you with the care and support you need.  Come visit us at 1727 King St. Alexandria, VA 22314, Office #2. Hopefully, we’ll hear from you soon!