Respite Care Benefiting Older Adults and Easing Stress on Loved Ones

Respite care can give family caregivers much-needed breaks from their roles, allowing them to rest and recharge. In doing so, it will help ease family caregivers' stress and give them the emotional strength to continue caregiving for their loved ones.

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Respite Care Benefiting Older Adults and Easing Stress on Loved Ones
4 Min Read January 25th, 2023

According to AARP, more than 53 million adults in the United States provide unpaid long-term health care to someone over 50, often a parent or spouse. These families were unprepared for the consequences of declining health and aging. These caregivers face tremendous pressure and demands on their time. Often, they don't get help from other family members. This is where respite care comes into play.

Respite care provides relief and support to family members caring for a person who needs long-term health care. It can include temporary placements in a facility, professional home health care, community services such as adult day care centers, and home-delivered meals. Respite care provides much-needed breaks for primary caregivers providing positive benefits to both the caregiver and the care recipient.

It seems to many family caregivers that taking time off from the enormous burden of caring for a loved one is a luxury that is both difficult to manage and difficult to afford. However, respite care is beneficial for the caregiver and the care recipient and is usually affordable.

Respite care gives family caregivers short-term breaks that can protect their physical and emotional health while they care for their loved ones. It can also provide the care recipient with an opportunity to engage in therapeutic activities while they receive care from trained caregivers.

Recharging Batteries

Adam Busch runs Amada Senior Care in Chicago, part of a national home health agency that provides care for people nationwide. His agency, like many others, provides respite care in the care recipient's home. Busch says families benefit from respite care emotionally, financially, and physically. 

Adam Busch

When primary caretakers get a break, they're able to "recharge their batteries" and continue their role. Respite care often reduces symptoms associated with depression among primary caregivers. Through respite care, the primary caregiver can focus on other family obligations and work/career responsibilities.

Busch says that people with Long-Term Care Insurance will often use respite care during a policy's "elimination period," a deductible based on days. As family members provide care during this time (usually 90 days), the family caregivers can get a break to ease the stress.

Studies have shown that family caregivers who have access to respite care have lower levels of depression, better physical health, and improved coping abilities. In addition to the benefits for family caregivers, respite care also provides valuable benefits for the care recipient. 

Respite care can provide a new and valuable social experience for care recipients who may spend extended periods alone. Trained caregivers offer care in a comfortable and interactive environment, allowing care recipients to engage with other people, do enjoyable activities, and learn new skills. 

Avoiding Isolation

Respite care can also provide a sense of connection and belonging when a care recipient may feel emotionally isolated or socially disconnected. Respite care can also offer a safe and secure environment that may not be available in the care recipient's home. The trained staff ensures a safe and stimulating environment while caring for the needs of the care recipients. 

Michael Lam, MD, MPH, says that human beings are designed to interact with other human beings, and doing this face-to-face is the best way. 

From a cognitive perspective, as you grow older, one of the benefits of socializing is the ability to think better and to stay on top of things. Older adults who continue to socialize also have a lower risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's. In addition, as you age, continuing to be social can help you deal with any potential depression and stress.

Respite care provides a unique level of comfort and peace of mind for both the family caregiver and the care recipient. 

Busch says they often recommend respite care when family caregivers are part of the care plan.

Patients increasingly have more complex care needs at home while experiencing shorter hospital stays and reduced benefits through Medicare. Respite care benefits family caretakers who need a helping hand, working people in the "sandwich generation," those caring for a senior loved one on hospice, and many others committed to aging in place.

Individuals with Long-Term Care Insurance will often use respite care to provide relief for informal family caregivers who may be helping the care recipient if off hours. 

Quality of Life

Long-term health care, including respite care, is essential for seniors to maintain the best possible quality of life. The need for long-term health care has progressed due to advances in medical science. As people age, their health needs become more complicated, and they require help with everyday living activities or supervision due to dementia.

These activities of daily living (ADLs) include things like bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, and eating. Plus, people need help with instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). IADLs are things you do every day to take care of yourself and your home.

IADLs refer to more complex activities, such as grocery shopping, taking medications correctly, and using the telephone. Both types of activities are essential for seniors to maintain their independence. Professional long-term health care can help manage these needs on a full-time or part-time basis in someone's home, or in adult day care centers, assisted living facilities, memory care facilities, and nursing homes. 

Many people, as they age, may also need technology support. This would include items like a walker, wheelchair, specialized bed, lift chair, wheelchair ramp, and accessible transportation.

Those much older or suffering from memory problems will also need medication management. Caregivers will ensure the care recipient takes their required meds correctly and on time.

Some people with chronic illnesses may also need skilled services providing help with physical, occupational, or speech therapy. It can also include wound care and medical management. 

Professional Care is Expensive

All this care is demanding on family members, and professional care is expensive. Those without Long-Term Care Insurance will pay for professional care out of pocket unless the care recipient has little or no income and assets.

LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator – Find Your Location

No matter what, the consequences of declining health and aging impact families and finances. Planning ahead of time will reduce the demands placed on loved ones. Long-Term Care Insurance will provide the resources to pay for quality care, including in-home care. An LTC policy will protect income and assets and allow loved ones more time to be family instead of caregivers.

Most people obtain coverage in their 50s.

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About the Author

Linda is a freelance writer interested in retirement planning, health and aging.

LTC News Contributor Linda Kople

Linda Kople

Contributor since October 31st, 2017

Editor's Note

You know what happens as you get older. Between chronic health problems, mobility issues, dementia, and just frailty, aging will lead to needing help with everyday living activities. 

As you age, there is an increased risk of falls, accidents, and injuries that can come with aging. Many older adults go into isolation to avoid some of these risks because they have no one watching out for them in their homes.

Quality long-term health care enables older adults to remain as independent as possible and maintain their dignity, autonomy, and connection to others. Indeed, that is what you want for yourself and your spouse as you age.

Plus, having quality care means you get emotional support which helps reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. 

Without professional long-term health care, one of your adult children will often step in and become your caregiver. Family members are usually untrained and unprepared for being a caregiver. These challenges are burdensome on your adult children and their families. 

Some of these challenges include:

  • Difficulty in maintaining a job and family responsibilities with that of being a caregiver

  • Feelings of guilt or a lack of self-care for one's own needs

  • Feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities of caregiving 

  • Feeling financially stretched as they take more time off working and more time being a caregiver

  • Feeling emotionally drained from caregiving

  • Difficulty dealing with siblings as one person becomes responsible for your care

Long-Term Care Insurance will help you maintain control and independence. You will have tax-free funds to pay for your choice of quality care, including in-home care. Your loved ones will have the time to be family instead of caregivers.

Don't delay, as LTC Insurance is medically underwritten. 

How Does LTC Insurance Underwriting Impact Ability to Obtain Long-Term Care Insurance?

Premiums are based on several factors, including:

  • age

  • gender

  • health 

  • family history

  • selection of riders and options

  • amount of benefits within the policy

How Much Does Long-Term Care Insurance Cost?

LTC Insurance Specialist Can Benefit You

A Long-Term Care Insurance specialist can be beneficial by providing the knowledge and experience necessary to help you select the best policy to meet your needs. 

Specialists can help to explain the different types of coverage, assess your needs based on your current health, financial resources, and family members, and evaluate potential policy options to determine the best fit for a consumer's budget and needs. 

These experts in long-term health care planning can also assist you in understanding the tax benefits of Long-Term Care Insurance and how it fits into retirement planning. You can save time and money by using a specialist's assistance to assess various policies' prospective costs and coverage. Premiums vary dramatically between insurance companies, as do their underwriting rules.

A qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist will match you with the best company to save you money. A specialist will put together accurate quotes from all the top companies based on your age, health, family history, and other factors.

Resources on LTC NEWS

LTC NEWS offers news, guidance, and resources to assist you in long-term health care planning. Additionally, LTC NEWS provides reviews of various Long-Term Care Insurance plans. 

Here are some of the resources that are available on LTC NEWS:

Parent’s Health Declining? Do They Need Care Now?

Get quality care for your parent or parents if they require it. LTC NEWS can assist. We've put together a few comprehensive guides to help you along the way.

Find help locating quality caregivers or long-term care facilities and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy. - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim.

Make sure your loved one uses their Long-Term Care Insurance if they are fortunate enough to have it. Families sometimes postpone taking advantage of the benefits thinking family members can provide care, saving the benefits for later when it is deemed "more necessary."

Delaying the use of available Long-Term Care Insurance benefits is not a good idea. The policy provides you with access to quality care when someone needs it. It also gives loved one’s time to family instead of caregivers.

These four guides can be very helpful as you try to find appropriate long-term care services for a loved one:

Today's Reverse Mortgages Can Benefit Older Families

Some people have a large portion of their savings in their homes. With the help of reverse mortgages, you can find ways to pay for quality in-home care, pay for LTC Insurance, and even assist with cash flow during retirement.

Yes, today's reverse mortgages may be the perfect way to pay for a Long-Term Care Insurance policy or even cover the cost of in-home care if you or a loved one is currently in need.

Asking an expert with your questions will help you learn more. Mike Banner, a columnist for LTC NEWS and the host of the television program "62 Who Knew," will respond to your inquiries about long-term care, reverse mortgages, aging, and health.

- Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.

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