Caregiving is a difficult job with never-ending demands. Without proper rest and time management boundaries, a carer can become exhausted and experience caregiver burnout

Respite care offers temporary relief for caregivers who are taking care of their disabled or sick loved ones. 

Key Takeaways:
*Respite care temporarily relieves family caregivers from their duties, offering them time to rest, handle personal tasks, or take a break. Respite is crucial for preventing caregiver burnout and ensuring caregivers can maintain their well-being.
*The cost of respite care varies based on the type of service, location, and duration. While Medicare offers limited coverage under specific conditions, Medicaid’s coverage depends on the state, through the Home & Community-Based Care Services waiver program. Private payment is often necessary.
*There are different forms of respite care such as in-home care, adult day care centers, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes. Each option caters to varying needs and situations, from short visits by a professional caregiver to longer stays in a senior care community.

The purpose of respite care is to provide a vital break to the caregiver and temporary care for the elderly. The caregiver can take a step back to focus on other responsibilities or to refresh and restore their energy.

What Is Respite Care?

Respite care is a caregiving service provided by a professional caregiver, volunteer, or family member, to provide temporary relief to family caregivers.

For example, a care provider from a home care agency (or individual caregiver) can step in to take over the caregiving responsibilities for a short time, or for a longer term, depending on the need of the primary carer.

This type of break is beneficial not just for the family caregiver but also for their loved one, who will experience different stimulation and a break in the routine.

While having one family caregiver consistently can seem easier, receiving care from a private caregiver can be a welcome change.

Who Provides Respite Care?

There are many types of respite care available. This service ranges from finding a volunteer or friend to cover a few hours of your time with your loved one, or the more time-intensive, temporarily placing your loved one in a senior healthcare facility for a time period of less than a month.

Some of the different types of respite care are:

Sitter-Companion Services

Sitting services are available for short-term needs. This is provided by a trained care provider from a home care agency, social service department, volunteer association, or public health nursing agency. The sitter can assist with various daily tasks and household chores for a short amount of time.

Volunteer Help

Family and friends stepping in to help can also be considered respite care. Volunteer services from family and friends are often done with the intention to help and not for profit. They can temporarily sit in and assist with household tasks or just keep a loved one company while the primary caregiver is away.

Adult Day Care Centers

Adult day care centers provide temporary respite care for seniors in the community. This is a great option for people who enjoy socialization. Socialization and activities with other people happen while simultaneously receiving medical care or assessments. Day care centers are only meant to provide temporary short-term care within their business hours.

Assisted Living Facility

Assisted living facilities and other senior care communities may offer short-term stays. Availability may depend on temporary room openings. This allows caregivers to go on an extended break, while their loved one is in a safe and stimulating environment. A short-term stay in a senior care community may also provide a look into the options for placement down the road.

Nursing Home

Aside from assisted living, nursing homes can also provide respite care. Nursing homes provide round-the-clock care for people who require more medical attention and nursing needs. This is ideal for specialized services like Alzheimer’s respite care and dementia respite care if a facility has a secure memory care component. Respite can typically be for up to 30 days.

In-Home Care

In-home respite care is provided by a professional caregiver at the residence of the patient. They can take over the responsibilities and provide assistance and care, whether for the day or for several days. This service is available through home care agencies or by individual, private caregivers.

Why Would I Need To Use Respite Care for a Loved One?

Providing non-stop care can quickly exhaust your physical, mental, and psychological health. To avoid caregiver burnout, it is vital to take breaks for your own well-being. You may also benefit from getting respite care if you:

  • have a scheduled vacation
  • have work duties
  • have an out-of-town event
  • have a medical procedure
  • want to go on a holiday
  • are experiencing symptoms of caregiver burnout

Respite Care For Dementia Caregivers

When choosing respite care for the elderly with dementia, it is important to consider your loved one’s safety, potential risks, and physical abilities. If they are still able to move around in their home and only have mild dementia, a sitter or a personal home care companion may work.

However, if they need constant supervision, have serious medical needs, and/or have mid-late stage dementia, a nursing home may be more appropriate.

How Much Does Respite Care Cost?

The cost of respite care will depend on several factors. This includes the length of the stay and the type of care, location, and specific senior care community. On average, in-home respite care will cost around $20 – $50 per hour.

The respite care cost per day in assisted living communities is about $150 – $300 per day.

Does Medicaid Cover Respite Care?

Medicaid doesn’t directly cover respite care. However, some individual states can cover respite care through their Home & Community-Based Care Services (HCBS) waiver program. You can check if you qualify by looking at your state’s profile on

Is Respite Care Covered by Medicare?

Yes, Medicare covers respite care but only if it is under the hospice benefit. If you qualify, Medicare will cover only up to 5 consecutive days of a stay, and only on an “occasional” basis.

The facility must be Medicare-approved, and a doctor must certify that the patient has a terminal illness. Even if the patient is qualified, the family usually pays a minimal cost.

Respite Care in Hospice

Hospice care is different from basic respite care. In hospice, a team of hospice professionals provides end-of-life care to a terminally ill person. Respite care provides a much-needed break for the family caregiver.

If you are caring for a terminally ill loved one, respite care through hospice is an option for you. This offers short-term relief from caregiving, while your loved one continues to receive the proper comfort care, and attention they need.

How Do I Find Respite Care Near Me?

To find respite care services in your area, check out the resources below:

In Summary

Caring for yourself is just as important as providing care for your loved one. Without the right work-life balance, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the duties and get burned out.

Respite care allows a much-needed break for family caregivers while making sure their loved ones continue to receive proper medical care. Whether it is to run errands or to unwind on a vacation, taking a break from caregiver duties will be beneficial for your overall well-being.

Respite Care Frequently Asked Questions

Who pays for respite care?

Most of the time, the family or responsible party pays privately for respite care. Medicaid may be able to fund some forms of respite, depending on the state you live in. Medicare only pays for respite care if a person is under hospice care.

How much does respite care pay?

Currently, the average hourly rate for a respite care worker in the United States is $13.56 per hour. The rate of a respite caregiver will depend on the specific duty, number of hours, location, and type of care needed.

Why is respite care important for caregivers?

Caregivers need to be properly rested and in a healthy mental space to be able to provide the best care for their loved ones. Overworked care providers not only hurt their own mental and psychological health but also endanger the loved ones they are caring for.

How much does respite care cost?

Respite care costs depend on the duration, location, and length of time required. Services typically range from $20 – $50 per day for in-home caregivers and $150 – $300 per day for assisted living facilities.

An expert in senior care, Amie has professional and personal experience in senior housing, caregiving, end-of-life care, and more from her 24 years of working with older adults.