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Respite Care for Caregivers

Respite care is a service provided for you as a caregiver.  Unfortunately many of us don't take advantage of these types of services. There are several reasons for not finding out about and using these services.

Why we don't use respite care

  • We don't feel we need them
  • No one can take care of our loved one the way we can
  • We may feel guilty about getting away
  • Not sure how to explain to our loved one that we need time away
  • Not sure how to explain to family that we need help
respite care

Do you feel like you have no time for yourself? Are you feeling isolated? Do you ever feel like you're on the verge of exhaustion or burning out? Although you love your spouse or family member, you need to take care of yourself - your physical and mental health, so that you can take better care of them.

It's not a bad thing that you need to take a break every now and then to help you stay on track or get back on track. If you feel stressed out or more irritable than usual, these can be signs that it's time to take advantage of some type of respite care services.

What type of Respite Care is available

First of all, there are two basic areas of this type of care: letting someone else share your caregiving responsibilities, and taking care of yourself. Think about what your loved ones needs are and also your own needs as a caregiver.

Do you need help with transportation? Do you need regular time to yourself? Or support from others, maybe even other family members? These types of needs are relatively simple to figure out. Do a little planning by writing down what both you and your loved ones needs are on a daily basis. 

respite care - nature walk

Decide when and where you need the most support or help, or time. Then decide if another family member would possibly be able to step in for a few hours on a certain day of the week.

Plan out a schedule with family or friends who are willing to volunteer to hang out with your loved one while you step out, take a walk, go to a movie, or whatever you need to do.

What are your loved ones needs?

Make a list of your loved ones needs. What are their preferences? How much can they do or what is their level of disability? Do they need meals prepared? Do they need physical exercise? What kind? How about companionship? Would they just like someone to sit and talk with them? Read to them? Writing these things down will make it easier for volunteers or other caregivers to take your place for the allotted time.

Types of respite care

There are two basic types of care: In-Home and Out-of-Home.


  • volunteer or paid
  • few hours to overnight
  • occasional or regular intervals
  • through an agency or through family and friends


  • Adult day care
  • Residential facilities for temporary care
  • Caregiver retreats or camps

Nothing says you need to use every single one of these types of care. Just one or two will work. Begin to think about what types will work best for you and your loved one. Then make a plan. Talk it over with your spouse, partner, or relative. They will need to know what you're doing and why.

They will need to feel comfortable with the arrangements and realize that you will only be away for a few hours or days, whatever the case may be.

Paying for respite care

How will this service get paid for? Do you have insurance - private or public? Medicare and/or Medicaid? Some, but not all of the costs, may be covered by one or more of these insurances so check first to compare prices.

Family and friends who are volunteers are not looking for pay. They, in most instances, just want to help out. Most likely, they haven't known what to do or how to proceed. You just need to figure out how to communicate your specific needs and decide who, when, and how they will get done.

Benefits of care

This type of care is so useful because it benefits the caregiver and the caregetter. An overwhelmed, worn out, irritable, caregiver cannot do their job adequately no matter how much they love their spouse, child, or relative. Your loved one deserves someone who is healthy, both physically and mentally, to care for them.

Go talk to your family, friends, and your healthcare team to see who and what's available. Don't feel bad if it doesn't feel right at first. You can always work out the kinks until you both feel good about the arrangement. And when you find something that works for you, don't be afraid to use it. Take advantage of everything that is offered. Both you and your loved one will benefit and be glad you did.

couple together

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Cir & Akrista

You are reading original content written by Akrista or Cir L'Bert of Life in Spite of MS. If you enjoyed reading this blog, please consider following us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. See you there!

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