Respite Care is defined as:  

The provision of short-term, time-limited, temporary relief for those who are caring for family members who might otherwise require permanent placement in a facility outside the home.  Respite provides breaks for families and other unpaid caregivers in order to support and maintain the primary caregiving relationship.

Millions of Americans provide unpaid assistance each year to elderly and infirmed family, friends, and neighbors to help them remain in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. Sometimes these Caregivers need time off to relax or take care of other responsibilities. This is where Respite Care can be helpful.

Respite care is not all the same. Respite can vary in time from part of a day to several weeks. Respite encompasses a wide variety of services including traditional home-based care, as well as adult day care, skilled nursing, home health, and short-term institutional care.


Respite care may take any one of the following forms:

Adult Day Care

These programs are designed to provide care and companionship for frail and disabled persons who need assistance or supervision during the day.

Informal and Volunteer Respite Care

Accepting help from other family members, friends, neighbors, or church volunteers who offer to stay with the individual while the Caregiver goes to the store or runs other errands. Many communities have formed Interfaith Programs where volunteers are matched with Caregivers to provide them with some relief.

In-Home Respite Care

In-home respite care involves the following four types of services for the more impaired individual:

  1. Companion services to help the family caregiver supervise, entertain, or just visit with the individual when he or she is lonely and wants company
  2. Homemaker services to assist with housekeeping chores, preparing meals, or shopping
  3. Personal care services to help the individual bathe, get dressed, go to the bathroom, and/or exercise
  4. Skilled care services to assist the Caregiver in tending to the individual’s medical needs, such as when administering medication

Institutional Respite Care

Institutional respite is a service that temporarily places older adults, who require constant care and/or supervision, out of their homes to provide their unpaid, primary Caregiver with relief from caregiving responsibilities