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What is Respite Care?

Respite care typically refers to a short-term stay at a senior community, usually an assisted living or memory care community. Respite care is a great living option for an elderly or disabled person who needs some day-to-day supportive services, but still desires social stimulation, engagement and activities. This type of care can also sometimes refer to in-home caregiving services used for only a short period.

A Temporary Care Solution for Adults

For the 65 million Americans caring for an aging or disabled loved one, respite care can serve a number of valuable functions. Respite is often used when:


  • The family caregiver needs to travel
  • The family caregiver needs a break
  • As a trial of a senior community, when a family is deciding whether a community is right for them
  • A family caregiving recipient needs a temporary change of pace, or a break
  • A family is gradually easing their loved one into life at a senior community

Because of the high stress associated with caring for a loved one with a memory disorder, respite is frequently sought by the family of people with Alzheimer's or other kinds of dementia. Family caregivers use the opportunity to "recharge their batteries."

Respite Care Services

The services and amenities available to long-term assisted living residents are also available to respite residents. These services and amenities usually include:

  • Three nutritious meals daily
  • Medication management
  • 24-hour supervision and security
  • Assistance with personal care needs such as bathing, dressing, toileting and grooming
  • Laundry service
  • Housekeeping
  • Activities and outings
  • Transportation

Respite Care Facilities Costs

At assisted living communities, temporary care respite stays are usually less than one month long, and can cost between $75 to $200 per day, according to 2012 data. It's important to keep in mind that the cost of respite care varies with the type of agency and services the person needs. Fortunately, there are financial programs that may help pay for respite care. For example, long-term care insurance policies may cover some of the cost of respite care. Most assisted living and memory care communities, assuming they aren't full, offer respite.

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