Respite Care: A Break for Caregivers and Seniors

Caregiver and Senior (NIA)

Volunteer Caregivers Work 24/7 without Pay

No matter what our jobs are we all need to take a break. No one can go 24/7 without a rest. However, voluntary caregivers who work without pay 24/7, are usually family members of seniors suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s. At present, Medicare will not pay for a senior to enter a short or long-term facility for memory loss. Only if the senior suffering with dementia needs to be hospitalized for any reason for up to three days, will Medicare pay for them to go to a care facility, but only for 100 days, so most of those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia are being cared for at home by a family member, either the spouse or one of the children. The majority of these caregivers are also seniors over age 60 and they have a high risk for getting ill themselves and sometimes pass away before their demented loved one does. However, there is a solution for them to get some rest and it came along with respite care.

Respite Care

In-home Care Services

Respite care is a chance for the overworked caregiver to get a break by being replaced by a professional or volunteer caregiver who will come in to watch over the demented senior in their own home. This can free the caregiver to find some time for chores, doctor’s appointments, shopping, relaxing with friends or a proper vacation.

Residential Care Facilities

The advantage, however, to going to a care facility is that it is also a kind of vacation for the demented senior to spend a few days, weeks or more in a warm supportive environment like the Royal Suites Healthcare and Rehabilitation in Galloway, New Jersey. Here they will be safe, properly looked after and able to participate in many of the recreational activities at the care facility. This gives the demented senior a chance to interact and socialize with other dementia people. Many seniors will respond well to a temporary change, possibly seeing it as a kind of hotel vacation. However, “fear of the new” is a common phobia among seniors with dementia and some will get upset at any change in their living arrangements, even if it is temporary. This kind of care-giving in a residential setting may be more expensive than bringing a substitute caregiver into the home.

Adult Day Care Centers

For caregivers who only need days off, but not nights, the demented senior can go to an adult day care center. Here they will be in a warm, safe environment with activities like music, art and other programs.

Help with Financing

Caregivers who need financial help to cover the costs of these kinds of respite solutions can contact the local Alzheimer’s Association branch to find out just what kind of assistance is available. They have a 24/7 Helpline: 1.800.272.3900 you can phone to find out how to contact your local chapter. The Alzheimer’s Association also has an online Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center with many tools and advice for caregivers.

More financing information is available from the National Institute on Aging (NIA).


Sometimes caregivers, who are usually close family members, feel overwhelmed with guilt about getting respite care. They feel they should do everything themselves. However,  a Me Time movement for caregivers is to show that they also need time for themselves and should not feel guilty about it. Caregivers who fail to see this may end up suffering from “burn out” or may fall ill themselves.

Caregiver Stress, Burn Out

The Alzheimer’s Association has advice and resources to help caregivers who are suffering from stress and burnout.

Caregiver Depression

Sometimes a caregiver will fall into depression, which is a treatable, but serious medical disorder. The Alzheimer’s Association has a check list to see if a caregiver is showing symptoms of depression. The caregiver must seek medical help.


Respite care is so beneficial for both the caregiver and the cared for demented senior that all caregivers should be encouraged to take a break to find some time for themselves.


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