respite: bringing relief to all

Respite can be a quick, 10-minute break from a task or an extended sabbatical from one’s day to day routines. Whatever the duration or purpose, the word respite signals comfort and relief.

For caregivers, respite is especially important. Their role is 24/7 and requires emotional and physical stamina. Caregivers need to maintain their own health and well-being: for themselves, as well as for their loved ones.

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance/ National Center on Caregiving, an estimated 44 million Americans age 18 and older provide assistance and support to older people and adults with disabilities who live in the community. About one in 10 caregivers report that caregiving has caused their physical health to worsen. Depression, anxiety, cardiovascular issues, frustration and stress are all problems many caregivers say they experience.

Fortunately, there are programs in place which can support caregivers as they struggle to balance their diverse responsibilities. From community resources to temporary residential inpatient stays, help is available.

Community Resources

Adult Day Programs provide day-long, supervised settings for people who should not be left alone. Typically, these programs run five or six days a week and include breakfast and lunch, snacks, activities and events. In addition, some now offer drop-off programs which enable a caregiver to bring their loved one for an hour or two, while they run errands or go to a doctor’s appointment, etc.

Home Care programs also provide respite when personnel are onsite to provide services in the home, be it for medical or personal care purposes, thus enabling the caregiver to use this time for other tasks.

Residential Resources

Some Assisted Living Residences offer respite stays when clinical and/or social support is needed. This is a popular option for older adults who have been at a hospital but were never actually admitted and, therefore, do not qualify for Medicare coverage at a skilled nursing facility. After one of these hospital observation stays, seniors can receive the clinical care they need to recover at an assisted living residence. In that setting, Medicare recipients can access community-based services.

And for those who do not have medical issues but need a safe and lengthier supervised setting, perhaps while caregivers are away, they can pay privately for a respite stay.

For caregivers who may be traveling, having surgery or taking a vacation, their medically-compromised loved ones can stay at a Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. If the patient is a Medicaid recipient, Medicaid will pay for a maximum four-week stay annually. If not a Medicaid beneficiary, then the patient can pay privately. These respite stay residents have access to the all the same services and programs received by the facility’s short and long-term residents.


Cathy SantaColoma

Cathy SantaColoma

Cathy SantaColoma is Director, Communications of Bethel Homes & Services, a not-for-profit organization offering a full continuum of care including: independent and assisted living; nursing; rehabilitation; adult day services; and home care. Campuses are in Croton-on-Hudson, Ossining and Valhalla; 914-739-6700.
Cathy SantaColoma

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