What is a respite caregiver?

Goldina Erowele

Many caregivers face challenges of caring for an elderly, chronically ill, or disabled family member are simply a part of daily life. Caregiving is loving and rewarding, it can be demanding, difficult job and no one is equipped to do it alone.

Respite caregiver provides short-term breaks that can relieve stress, restore energy, and promote balance in a caregiver’s life.

According to, remembering the benefits of respite care and following these six tips can ease the process:

  • Plan and schedule frequent breaks. Respite is not just a service—it is an effect that can only come from regular relief.
  • Use checklists to inform respite care providers about your care recipient’s schedules, likes and dislikes. Offer suggestions for handling any difficult behaviors.
  • Make back-up plans. Always keep a list of alternate respite care providers and resources. Unplanned emergencies should not prevent you from taking care of yourself.
  • Evaluate respite care providers often. Observe your care recipient before and after respite sessions. Ask for brief updates and more detailed reports regularly.
  • Expect changes. Respite care is a process that often requires fine-tuning. Anticipating and accepting changes in personnel or programs can keep you from becoming discouraged.
  • Attend your support group regularly. Structured and informal groups allow you to meet others in situations much like yours. You can talk, vent, laugh, and exchange tips with people who understand. If you can’t easily leave home, online communities, message boards, and forums can also provide much-needed support.
Shelley Webb

As a caregiver, it is important to have some time away from your care recipient in order to maintain your own health and sanity. When family is not available, sometimes it is possible to use a respite caregiver.

This is someone that can either be paid directly, or with vouchers through the local Area Agency on Aging or perhaps through your church. But even after being able to obtain the respite caregiver, the problem isn't completely solved.

It is often common to encounter a care recipient who doesn't quite understand that you might like some time to yourself and when the discussion of respite care comes up, the care recipient may respond that they don't want some stranger in the house or they don't need a babysitter. There are creative solutions such as a housekeeper or someone to help with special projects.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.