Respite Tips: Taking a Break From Giving Care to Someone in Need
By Family Caregiver Alliance
Sources of Respite
- Time and assistance from family or friends
- Professional (paid) in-home help
- Adult Day Health Care
- Temporary placement outside the home in an assisted care residence
- For Veterans: Up to 30 days of respite care per year is available to enrolled Veterans as determined by the Veteran’s treatment team. You can talk with the Veteran’s Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) social worker, case manager, or the Caregiver Support Coordinator (CSC) for more information about what respite options exist in your area.
Without Respite, Caregivers are Susceptible to Burnout
- Symptoms of burnout include: exhaustion, frustration, impatience, and having trouble coping with the day-to-day demands of caregiving.
- Getting respite before you experience burnout is the key to taking care of you.
Tips to Consider
- Don’t wait until you are exhausted and overwhelmed. Respite is most effective if it’s used early and regularly. Even short breaks make a difference.
- Plan carefully for what you want to do with your break. Don’t over schedule yourself, but do find something that is meaningful and nurturing for you.
- Realize that the respite experience may not go perfectly, especially at first. This may be new for both you and the person receiving care, and may take some trial and error.
- You may be open to respite, but worried that the person for whom you provide care will be reluctant to try it out. You may hear:
- You are the only person I want with me. I only trust you.
- I don’t need anyone to stay with me; I’m fine on my own.
- That place (adult day care or overnight residence) is full of people that need more care than I do.
Feel Guilty for Taking a Break or Even Considering Taking a Break?
- Remember that you are not doing anything wrong.
- Gently, but firmly assert your need for time away.
- Talk to someone who has used respite before to find out what worked for them.
- Know that taking a break will help you and the person for whom you care cope better moving forward.
What to Do With Respite Time
- Anything that you desire! Sleep, exercise, take time for something that you like to do (e.g.: woodworking, crafting, singing, or other favorite activity), meet a friend for lunch, coffee, a movie, go to a relative’s wedding or other important event, keep a doctor’s appointment, take uninterrupted time for yourself.
Family Caregiver Alliance
National Center on Caregiving
(415) 434-3388 | (800) 445-8106
FCA CareNav: https://fca.cacrc.org/login
Services by State: https://www.caregiver.org/connecting-caregivers/services-by-state/
Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) seeks to improve the quality of life for caregivers through education, services, research, and advocacy. Through its National Center on Caregiving, FCA offers information on current social, public policy, and caregiving issues and provides assistance in the development of public and private programs for caregivers. For residents of the greater San Francisco Bay Area, FCA provides direct support services for caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s, and other debilitating health conditions that strike adults.
FCA Fact and Tip Sheets
A listing of all facts and tips is available online at www.caregiver.org/fact-sheets.
Other Organizations and Links
Resources for older adults and their families