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How to know what you're looking for and why


Respite is time off, time away, a much-needed time out for a caregiver. It is not to be confused with the full-time hiring of a professional caregiver who handles virtually all the responsibilities of caregiving for you. Rather, it is the use of someone—whether a friend, relative, volunteer or professional—who can fill in for you, allow you to have “me time,” and assure that your wellness is priority number one.


Unfortunately, notes Jill Kagan, chairperson of the National Respite Coalition, most caregivers don’t realize they are in need of respite care until it is too late. Only five percent of caregiver respondents in a 2004/2005 survey by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP actually used respite care, and when they did, it was usually because of a crisis; either the caregiver had fallen ill or there had been another emergency.


“It’s very difficult for caregivers to define when they need a break,’’ says Kagan. “They don’t see themselves as caregivers, but as spouses, mothers or sisters whose obligation it is to care for someone. They don’t see themselves as being entitled to a break.”


Caregivers need time away just as any worker needs a vacation from the daily stress of his or her job, says Suzanne Mintz, president and co-founder of the National Family Caregivers Association. “It’s a break that renews you. The ideal respite is to go someplace so you are not even in the same environment. That is the best way to clear your head,” says Mintz. “Respite gives a little bit of your life back.”




I look at my Mom and my husband and see chores to do. I am looking forward to my week of respite care and it is true you need to get out of the house. Even with the loved one out of the house, you feel like you are still on the job. Anyone else feel like this?


Everybody needs a sanity break. If there's no one to help with this - call a Geriatric Care Manager in your area and see what can be provided. To find one go to the website for the National Association of Geriatric Care Managers at There's help out there.

Joanne Wallace Tuttle, MA, CMC

Respite Care

I am looking into this program for my Mother. She is the full time Care Giver for my Dad. She needs a time out and this program sounds very beneficial for both of them.