Getting a Break: Ideas to Get a Day of Respite

beach-chair-and-umbrella-md-mdIn my post on Tuesday, I suggested ideas so you can take a break for a few hours. Those few hours can be feel great until you think, “I need more! I need more time away!”

So, let’s take a look at how you can arrange to take time away from caregiving for an entire day.

  • Adult day services: While you take a day off, your caree attends an adult day service, which provides activities, meals and snacks. Programs will have varying criteria for who can attend; for instance, some programs will provide personal care for clients while others cannot care for an incontinent client. To find an adult day service in your community, visit National Adult Day Service Association.
  • Home health agencies: A home health aide can provide personal care, transportation and meals. While you enjoy time away, your caree could enjoy a little break with a home health aide, including (if appropriate) lunch out and a visit to the beauty shop. You can search for home health agencies in your area at National Association for Home Care and Hospice website. Be sure to read this article, Ensuring You Hire Quality Care, so you hire well.
  • Private caregivers: You can hire individuals directly to provide care through sites like, and You set the rate, interview and select the caregiver. You might save money hiring on your own rather than through an agency. A site like also allows you to manage payroll and pay taxes. You’ll want to have training sessions with your hired caregiver before you leave so you ensure he or she understands what’s required by you and of your caree. You’ll also want to check with your insurance agent about the appropriate insurance which protects you and your caree.
  • Family members: Family members could become a tag team of sorts that stays with your caree while you’re gone for a day. For instance, perhaps your younger sister handles the morning shift; your older brother and his wife take the afternoon shift. When family steps in to give you a break, you’ll want to make sure they have all the information needed to help. You may want them to shadow you a few times before they stay with your caree alone. You’ll also want to create a manual, of sorts, which provides a schedule of meals, likes and dislikes, medications and treatments. They’ll also need to know where to find supplies, how to use equipment and how you define an emergency (so they’ll know when to call you.) This article, How Do I Train My Sister?, can help you organize your training.
  • Family Caregiver Support Program: Managed by your local Area Agency on Aging, the Family Caregiver Support Program has funding to pay for care so family caregivers of adults 60 years and older can take a break. Funding may be limited and you may find yourself on a waiting list, but it’s worth a call to find out what’s available. Search to find the contact information for your local Area Agency on Aging.
  • Local programs: You may have programs specific to your community that help. To find out about local programs, check with your local United Way and Easter Seals as well as your local township or county office. Local chapters of disease-specific organizations, like the Alzheimer’s Association, the National MS Society and American Stroke Association, also may help.
  • Check with your employer’s Human Resource Department to learn if your employer has an Employee Assistance Program or work/life benefit. The EAP or work/life benefit provider can research options for you–saving you time and frustration.
  • Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs could provide help so you can take a break. According to the VA, veterans and survivors eligible for a VA pension and require the aid and attendance of another person, or are housebound, may be eligible for additional monetary payment. For more information, visit the VA website. You also can call VA’s National Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274.

As you make arrangements, you may find that you piece together a few solutions. Perhaps you hire a professional caregiver (either through a home health agency or on your own) to provide care in the morning and then ask a family member to relieve the professional caregiver in the afternoon to stay with your caree. You also might use some of the solutions I described on Tuesday to create a full-day break. As you plan your break, think outside the box, considering any and all options.

What arrangements have you made so you can take a day off? Please share in our comments section, below.

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About Denise Brown

I began working with family caregivers in 1990 and launched in 1996 to help and support them. Through my blog, I share words of comfort and offer coping strategies and tips. I also write opinion pieces about recent research, community programs and media coverage of caregiving issues. I've written several caregiving books, including "The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey," "Take Comfort, Reflections of Hope for Caregivers" and "After Caregiving Ends, A Guide to Beginning Again." You can purchase my books and schedule a coaching call with me in our store.

2 thoughts on “Getting a Break: Ideas to Get a Day of Respite

  1. Avatar of BobinMOBobinMO

    Boy did you say it! Now if only there were the services you so thoughtfully listed in our area. Except for friends or extremely over priced home health care services, my area of the country simply doesn’t offer these much needed services. There’s no adult day care centers or anything. There certainly are times living in the larger cities can make life a whole lot easier, especially for the caregiver.

    Your mantra about caregivers needing some time for themselves couldn’t be truer so last week I followed your advice and took 7 1/2 hours off. I drove down to St. Louis and saw the Solar Impulse solar plane and did some shopping – but while scooting along. My only option was to lay down some rules while I was gone while calling home throughout the day. There was still a TON of risk involved but I just HAD to get away.

    Asking friends to keep an eye on our loved one sounds easy, especially when you’re blessed to have a decent circle of friends who really care. What I’ve learned through implementation is it’s not always easy accepting their help or figuring out a way to not make my wife upset while I’ve got someone babysitting her. As of right now the only solution I’ve found is to drop off my wife at church on Sunday mornings for the main service. It’s only an hour with an overpriced coffee, but at least I got a little time away from the real world. Here’s hoping others are having an easier time finding the much needed time for their emotional rebalancing.

    • Avatar of DeniseDenise Post author

      Hi–It’s not easy–to find the right help and to have a caree accept the help. It’s particularly challenging when what’s right (important and necessary for own health) isn’t what a loved one feels right about. We’ve got a podcast and articles about navigating the difficult terrain of doing what’s right for you here:

      So glad you got a day off!!!


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