What Is Respite Care? The Ultimate Guide

Right now, there are nearly 40 million people in America who are providing care to an adult in need. Extending daily care to an adult in need can range from once-daily check-ins to ’round the clock care. Often, respite care is a viable option for someone who falls somewhere in the middle.

If you have a beloved family member that you’re happy to dedicate your time to but just need a small break, then this level of care may be precisely what’s needed to restore balance and unity to the household.

Below, we’ll break down respite care, including what it is, how it works, the different types, and a few of its most prominent benefits.

What Is Respite Care?

Respite care provides a rest – or a respite – for the person who’s doing all the caregiving. At some point, family members caring for their elders may need a helping hand.

This is where respite care steps in. It provides temporary relief for a caregiver who feels like they’re always “on the clock” so they can tend to other matters for a bit of time.

How Long Does It Last?

Elder man getting respite careRespite care can last for a short span of time, i.e., a couple of weeks, or a couple of months. It’s up to the caregiver to decide how much respite they’ll need to take care of their other duties.

Sometimes, family members need respite care just to step out and tend to errands and appointments. Other times, they need to go out of town and require a helping hand.

Respite care is also pursued when a caregiver falls ill. Knowing that their elderly family member is at risk, they won’t want to put them in danger. During these moments, respite care can provide a tremendous amount of relief.

What’s Included In Respite Services?

Respite care runs the gamut. This is something that can be decided on a case-by-case basis. In its most basic function, respite care may only include companionship and low-level supervision.

Basic Supervision or Companionship

If the elderly member of the family is high-functioning, then the respite caretaker might just be on call for a caretaker who doesn’t like to leave their family member home alone.

If desired, a respite care worker can even provide a little bit of companionship. Perhaps they’ll watch TV programs together, play cards, or help with a craft or project.

The simple act of introducing a welcomed, new person into the household can break up some of the monotony that can occur in a familial setting.

Basic Tasks

Other times, respite care takes on a more hands-on approach. In which case, basic tasks can be tended to. This may include bathing, dressing, and eating meals.

Household Tasks

Respite care can also provide help with household tasks. Light cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, and cooking can typically be tended to with respite care.

Or, if the elderly family member needs transportation to a store or a doctor’s appointment, this is often included in respite care, as well.

Medical Care

In some instances, respite care providers may be qualified to provide basic medical care. If, for example, wounds need to be cleaned throughout the day, this may be a possibility.

If certain devices need to be monitored or tended to, this may be another daily task that respite care can assist with.

Types of Respite Care

Caretaking takes on so many forms. Different family members need different levels of care. And each caregiver is able to offer different levels of care. So, when respite care steps in, it will vary from family to family.

In-Home Care

This is a common form of respite care. Here, skilled respite caregivers enter into the home and provide an array of services for the family member in need.

Sometimes, it’s as simple as companionship and supervision; other times, in-home care can include a small range of medical responsibilities.

Day Care

Sometimes referred to as adult day care, families also opt to attend a daytime facility while the caregiver goes to work. This may take place in a church hall, a senior center, or an assisted living facility.

Here, the family member that needs care can find it in the safety of a reputable facility while also socializing with people their age. The friendships that are formed here are often very beneficial.

Facility Care

By its nature, respite care provides a break, or a respite. So, it’s not the same as entering into assisted living, but some assisted living facilities do offer respite services on the property.

They’ll set aside a small number of rooms for temporary visitors. These respite care facilities are a viable option when the caregiver needs to go out of town for an extended length of time.

Benefits of Respite Care Services

You’ve probably already gleaned a number of benefits to this form of care. In many instances, it’s mutually beneficial to the family member in need, the caregiver, and the extended family that’s aware of the situation.

Stress Relief

Elder woman in respite care

When you love your elderly family member and want to provide the best care possible, it can often create an unintended level of stress. Respite care allows the caretaker to tend to some of their personal needs and avoid burnout.

When a caretaker neglects themselves, it can have a trickle-down effect on the member of their family they’re most wanting to provide for.

So, the simple act of being able to go to a doctor’s appointment or play a round of softball can actually provide enormous relief in the household.

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Learning Opportunities

If you hire an experienced respite care work, they’re likely to be able to introduce new ways of doing things. Perhaps they’ll suggest a new daytime activity for the elder who needs care, or they’ll demonstrate how to wrap a wound in a different way.

Introducing a new person to the equation offers a wonderful array of new learning opportunities and, thus, new benefits.


As you can see, respite care comes in many shapes and sizes. As such, it provides a great amount of flexibility for each and every household. Families can consider it when the need arises and forego it when they’re no longer in need of the extra pair of hands.

The Right Type of Care for You

Most people are typing, “What is assisted living,” into Google. But, respite care may be more in line with your needs if you’re only looking for a temporary level of care.

If, however, you’re certain it’s time for full care, then we welcome you to come on over and visit us here at Brooking Park. We’re a non-profit assisted living community near Chesterfield, MO offering a full spectrum of needs.

Whether you’re looking for assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, respite care, or short-term rehabilitation, we’re fully equipped to care for your loved one.

Feel free to contact us to schedule a tour. We’ll show you around our well-maintained property and answer all your questions. We look forward to meeting you!

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