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Respite a Must for Family Caregivers

Find help from family, friends, volunteers or professional caregivers so that you can take time for yourself.

Find home care near you or your loved one:

Family caregivers at the end of their rope can look to others for a break to refresh their outlook. Professional caregiving help is one answer.

Q: I’ve been caring for my elderly parents and have heard a lot about the stress that goes with family caregiving. I’m certainly feeling it. What do you recommend?

What you really need is respite. If you have siblings or your parents have close friends, they might be willing to step in and help you get away for a short time. If your parents are active in a church or synagogue, check to find out what programs and organizations they might have available that could help you. Many senior organizations at church might be willing to lend an extra hand. Your Area Agency on Aging also is a great source for help and information.

Finally, your parents could also consider a private caregiver. The local Home Instead® office, for instance, hires CAREGiversSM to go into the homes of seniors like your mom and dad to provide companionship and other non-medical assistance such as meal preparation, light housekeeping, medication reminders, errands, shopping and a much-needed respite.

Finally, following are some things that could help out:

  • Take a break: Make arrangements for any necessary fill-in help (family, friends, volunteers or professional caregivers). Take single days or even a week’s vacation. And when you’re away, stay away. Talk about different things, read that book you haven’t been able to get to, take naps, whatever relaxes you and makes you happy.
  • Eat well: Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, proteins, including nuts and beans, and whole grains. Indulging in fast food and sugar as quick “pick-me-ups” also produce a quick “let-down.”
  • Keep your medical appointments: Make sure you get your annual check-up. Being a caregiver provides many excuses for skipping your necessary check-ups, but don’t do it. A healthy you is worth more to your aging loved one than a sick, weak you.
  • Indulge: Treat yourself to a foot massage, manicure, nice dinner out or a concert to take yourself away from the situation and to reward yourself for the wonderful care you are providing to your aging relative. You shouldn’t feel guilty about wanting to feel good.
  • Work out: Exercise and enjoy something you like to do (walking, dancing, biking, running, swimming, etc.) for a minimum of 20 minutes at least three times per week. Consider learning a stress-management exercise such as yoga or tai-chi, which teach inner balance and relaxation.
  • Meditate: Sit still and breathe deeply with your mind as “quiet” as possible whenever things feel like they are moving too quickly or you are feeling overwhelmed by your responsibilities as a caregiver.
Last revised: July 26, 2011

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. February 11, 2016 at 1:57 pm | Posted by Michelle

    I'm caring for my 87 year old grandmother all alone. I've developed a rash all over my body from the stress and from the dirty carpet and house. I am pulling carpet and getting rid of things slowly. She is paralyzed in bed from a fall. I change diapers, take vitals, flush catheter, feed 3x per day, bathe, schedule appointments, manage some finance, run household, wound care, etc. I do it all. She at first started out paying me but no longer does because she says I owe her for the help she gave me when i was 21 years old. I am now 46 years old. I left a plush life back in El Paso and have been careing for her for 4 years with no break. I have sisters that will not help. They have school, jobs, children, family. If it were not for my dog I would be going crazy. I have started drinking alot. My grandmother lied to me saying she only gets 1300 per month but she really gets 3500 plus she has property and 35k in bank. I get no financial help. Anyway, I guess I need to vent.


  2. November 15, 2015 at 10:08 pm | Posted by AJ

    I'm 41, my husband is 48 and he had a massive stroke two years ago that left him completely bedridden and dependent on me for help. I cant work, I cant do anything. I am stuck home 24/7 and I am all alone. There is no help for us so I know all is lost. I'm only 41 years old and my life is now over. My husband and best friend is now a perpetual toddler that is in constant pain and totally miserable. He has no quality of life and begs for death every moment of every day. There is no hope and no amount of exercise or nights out with the girls that is goin to ever fix this.


  3. May 10, 2014 at 8:57 pm | Posted by Danielle

    Working out is such a great way to relieve stress! I completely agree with that one! My husband and I work out every night after a long stressful day, we love it. I'll definitely be sure to include that in my next post about 10 Ways to Naturally Reduce Stress


  4. October 3, 2013 at 10:42 am | Posted by Mary

    I have been taking care of my husband going on six years due to several strokes. I have no family here and he does but no one will come around to check on him, call to see about him or offer any help with him. I would like for them to come and sit with him on weekends just so I can do things for myself but no one will do it. If I don't take him with me wherever I go I can't go. It is getting harder and harder for him to get around. It has taken a toll on me but I refuse to put him in a nursing home until it absolutely has to be done. Any suggestions.


  5. July 29, 2013 at 4:15 am | Posted by Meredith

    I'm a mid-fifties only child, caregiver to my daddy who is 91. My husband and I moved in with him six years ago. We built an addition to his house and we all get along well. We have home health care coming in a total of five times a week, and oxygen is delivered every Monday. I'm tired of having all these people coming and going, and I feel guilty saying that I am unhappy not having siblings to help me. I'm physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted.


    • September 4, 2013 at 6:48 am | Posted by caregiver too

      You are doing a wonderful job and should not feel guilty for anything. 1. I am there with you taking care of a parent as well. 2. Don't feel guilty about not having siblings to help you, as I have three siblings and I am the only one doing everything. (this is very common I am told, as it is a very demanding job). you need to take care of you too, regardless, I am looking into trying to do overnight respite a few weekends a month. hang in there, we will get thru it and know that towards the end for them we were there :)


  6. June 3, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Posted by Jeri Sue

    These are great if you dont have a full time (or more than full time) job - then how do you get relief?? We are taking turns every other weekend (daytime care all week) at a location that is about a 3 hour drive away. I usually have to work the weekends I dont go. In a very rural area, so no centers and such


  7. October 18, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Posted by JUDY DODSON

    My thoughts are that when you have a family that can offer respite, but won't....what then? No residual cash to pay for outside help, so I just lay in bed or sit on couch with her to converse as I can. It's so sad to see her alienated by her own family and I'm tired of asking their help just to receive a no..."i'm going out to eat tonight, I can't"....going to beach this weekend, i can' the grandkids tonight and Saturday, I can't.....these excuses hurt me so much, as I can't even go to McDonalds', much less go out to eat!!!!!!! Disgusted, totally disgusted with my family....


    • February 12, 2013 at 9:03 pm | Posted by Ruth Emswiler

      Judy, Been there, done that, except it is with my son that was in a motorcycle accident, not a parent. I finally got in touch with Valley Agency For Independent Living, (VAIL) and they work with Public Partnership. They use Medicaid to pay for care for your parents if they are at home, and are on Medicare. If you would like more info, please send me an e-mail at [email protected]


    • September 4, 2013 at 6:56 am | Posted by caregiver too

      See if there is a hope pace program In your area, or call aging and adult services and let them know what services you are looking for, they can refer you on a limited income and most of it is paid for by her insurance or medicare. Hope this helps :) Please try to get your me time


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