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How can I prevent or address caregiver burnout? What if I need a break?

Across the country, millions of caregivers put in endless hours providing care for a loved one and can often neglect their own feelings and needs. The role of caregiving is an all-encompassing role that can cause you to feel overwhelmed, stressed, or exhausted. These are common feelings and may be indicative of caregiver burnout. Caregiver burnout is a very common state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion for caregivers.

If you are experiencing caregiver burnout or even just need a break, respite care might be right for you. The goal of this care includes allowing caregivers like you to focus on your responsibilities and needs.

In-home options

These options allow for quality care in an environment your loved one can feel the most comfortable – their own home. Payment for in-home care is usually an hourly rate and can sometimes be covered by insurance. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Home Health Aides: Aides are trained to give care like toileting, grooming, and helping with mobility; but cannot provide medical or skilled nursing care. This type of service can be as needed, regularly scheduled, overnight, or just a few hours each day. Health insurance may cover having a home health aide come for a few hours per week. Additional support may be available, if needed, through private pay (i.e., paid directly by the patient or family).
  • Visiting Nurse Services: Visiting nursing services differ from home health aides as they can also provide some medical care, including assessments, wound care, and medication administration. This type of care includes registered nurses traveling to the home to maximize your seniors’ physical, mental, cognitive, and behavioral well-being. Nurses also work with your senior’s doctors to develop a tailored care plan to suit their home. Health insurance typically cover the cost of these services, if it is determined to be medically necessary, and hospice care typically includes this service.
  • Direct Support Professionals: DSP or direct support professionals help with non-medical care, such as cooking, grocery shopping, or gardening. DSPs are typically paid an hourly rate and are often privately paid.

Community Programs

Community programs are tailored for those caregivers who work throughout the day, on the weekends, or just need a break throughout the week. These programs allow seniors to enhance social interaction with those in the community and to participate in activities. Programs such as those listed below are usually paid by the day. However, religious groups, churches, or volunteer services in your area may be able to help give caregivers a break at a free or low cost. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Adult Daycare Centers: These programs can be in various settings such as meeting halls, senior centers, and assisted living facilities. These programs are about 6 to 8 hours per day during the week and includes lunch and snacks.
  • Weekend Programs: Weekend programs may benefit you if you need a break for more than a few hours or even just the day.

Formal Respite

Formal respite programs may be needed if you need to be away for longer than just a few hours, the day, or the weekend. Patients have resources accessible in these facilities to help with their daily needs, including specialized treatment and medication administration. This option can be planned or in response to urgent need.

Formal respite care for those receiving hospice services is often covered by Medicare and other insurance plans for qualifying individuals. If there is any concern about insurance coverage, assistance with finances may be an option through agencies or organizations in your area. You can contact your loved one’s hospice provider for more information.

Resources are listed in our guide.

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