Caring for a loved one can be a very rewarding experience. However, it can also be tiring and emotionally draining. Sometimes, asking for and seeking additional help are both warranted and needed.
In the Japanese and Japanese American community, people may often find it difficult to ask for help. Cultural values of enryo (refraining or restraining) and gaman (enduring) have ingrained qualities like resilience and independence into Our Community. While these cultural principles are important, it is just as important to be able to ask for help when one needs it. Respite care can offer this type of support to caregivers.
What is Respite Care?
The National Institute on Aging defines respite care as short-term relief for the primary caregiver that may range from one afternoon to specific days and times of the week (National Institute on Aging, 2017). Respite care allows the primary caregiver to do housework, grocery shopping, or take time for themselves to rest and relax. Respite care is offered in a number of different ways and settings, including the following (AARP, n.d.):
- An informal network of friends, family, and neighbors
- Programs through volunteer groups, faith-based organizations, or community centers
- Programs through paid respite services (privately paid or subsidized by government programs)
- Provided in the home, adult day center, senior living or other facilities
Benefits of Respite Care
Respite care has benefits for caregivers, care recipients, and their families. Respite care helps caregivers maintain their own health (CDC, 2019). Caregivers get a break from continuous demands and responsibilities of caregiving, while the care recipient continues to receive care. Even a few hours of respite care each week can improve a caregiver’s wellbeing by decreasing stress levels which can also reduce risk of illness (CDC, 2019). Therefore, respite care is important for the primary caregiver to help maintain their resilience throughout the caregiving process and to avoid compromising their physical and emotional health due to the stress of caring for a loved one (Roberts & Struckmeyer, 2018). This also benefits the care recipient by ensuring their caregiver can continue to provide care.
Managing caregiving responsibilities without a break may seem feasible in the short-term. However, an AARP “Caregiving in the U.S. 2020” report mentions that caregiver burnout can result from spending too much time providing care without a break (AARP, n.d.). Caregiver burnout is defined as a “state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion” (Cleveland Clinic, n.d.). In addition to caregiver burnout, depression and other health problems can occur. Respite care can help caregivers avoid these outcomes.
Costs of Respite Care
Respite care costs vary depending on the type of service utilized. Respite care in the form of friends, family, volunteers, and some nonprofit groups may be free or low-cost (CDC, 2019). Other respite care options such as adult day programs may have different costs depending on the organization. Most insurance plans do not cover respite care costs. However, some long-term care insurance plans may cover partial respite care costs (AARP, n.d.). Medi-Cal may cover some types of long-term care, such as respite care, for individuals with a limited income and/or meet eligibility requirements (National Institute on Aging, 2017).
Respite Care Resources
Various types of respite care are available and depend on the needs of the caregiver and the care recipient. Below are resources that can help guide caregivers to the appropriate type of respite care:
Eldercare Locator: https://eldercare.acl.gov/Public/Index.aspx
National Adult Day Services Association: https://www.nadsa.org/
ARCH (Access to Respite Care and Help) National Respite Network and Respite Locator: https://archrespite.org/respitelocator
Alzheimer’s Los Angeles Resource Directory – Home Care: https://www.alzheimersla.org/for-families/resource-directory/resources-home-care/
Alzheimer’s Orange County – Healthy Aging Center: Laguna Woods: https://www.alzoc.org/adultday/
211 Ventura County: https://211ventura.org/seniorsx/senior-support-services/adult-day-programs/
AARP. (2020). Respite Care: Create a Plan to Give Yourself a Caregiving Break. Retrieved from https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/life-balance/info-2017/respite-care-plan.html
CDC. (2019). Caring for Yourself When Caring for Another. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/aging/publications/features/caring-for-yourself.html
Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Caregiver Burnout. Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9225-caregiver-burnout#:~:text=Caregiver%20burnout%20is%20a%20state,and%20using%20respite%20care%20services.
National Institute on Aging. (2017, May 1). What is respite care? National Institute on Aging. Retrieved January 7, 2022, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-respite-care
Roberts, E., & Struckmeyer, K. M. (2018). The impact of respite programming on caregiver resilience in dementia care: A qualitative examination of family caregiver perspectives. INQUIRY: The Journal of Health Care Organization, Provision, and Financing, 55. https://doi.org/10.1177/0046958017751507