R-E-S-P-I-T-E: Find Out What it Means to Me

If you’d now like to get Aretha Franklin’s voice out of your head, follow me toward a completely different direction or at least to a circuitous segue for today’s blog. We’re talking about r-e-s-p-i-t-e and what it can mean to you – the caregiver, the ever-loving and devoted spouse or family member, dedicated and entrusted to the care of an aging parent or dependent loved one.

First, what does respite mean? Primarily it refers to taking or getting a break from a difficult or arduous ongoing task. And for some the “task of caregiving” can often lead to feelings of resentment, frustration, and in some cases caregiver burnout. So getting a break or respite is so important for caregivers. Many spouses and adult children have made the promise to take care of their husband or wife or parent at home indefinitely. But as valiant as that promise is, over a few years, months or even weeks, caregiving can take its toll on your health, along with your mental and emotional well-being. Fortunately, respite can be an extremely helpful way to stave off burnout and revitalize or prolong a person’s ability to take care someone that needs the help. It’s a tool that all caregivers should use or at least explore.

For those familiar with the term, the most prevalent form of respite care is having your loved one stay at a personal care home or an assisted living residence for a week or two, while you take a well-deserved vacation or an out of town business trip. Messiah Village offers such a program, and it’s a great option in the battle against burnout. However, there are two other options that can also help counterbalance the stress and impact that being a caregiver entails. Those options include non-medical home care and adult day programs. These services are not as closely associated with respite compared to overnight respite care programs, but they are without a doubt as vital, valuable and many times less expensive than respite in a facility.

Adult Day programs offer flexibility for caregivers who may still work or also have young children to care for at home. Fortunately the aging loved one, who cannot stay home alone, can come to an adult day program for up to 8 hours, while the caregiver is out of the house. At the end of the day the most satisfying fact is that the person in need has received the care, attention and stimulation they need during the day, but return home come evening time. Equally satisfying is that the caregiver gets the respite time they need or desire. Most programs, such as our very own Messiah Lifeways Adult Day program, offer full day and half day programs as well one day or multiple day options. It’s also one of the most affordable types of care out there, with the national average of $70/day and $60/day in Pennsylvania¹ for 8 hours of care.

Another form of respite is non-medical home care. Just as Adult Day can break up the day or supplement the duties of the primary caregiver, home care does the same and can be used in multiple ways and time frames. Whether it’s needed several hours here or there, at bedtime or bath time, in the middle of the night or on weekends, home care can offset the daily tasks and challenges a caregiver faces each day. Providers like Messiah Lifeways At Home can also take the burden out of responsibilities like cooking, housekeeping, and grocery shopping for an aging parent, especially for those “sandwiched” between taking care of mom and taking care of their kids. Though more expensive on a hour by hour basis than adult day, home care in Pennsylvania averages a doable rate of $21/hour, which also happens to be the national average².

The great thing about respite is that it’s not necessarily there to replace you as the caregiver, but rather to supplement your hard work and efforts and to help keep you from running yourself ragged.

And lastly don’t forget to sing…

Find out what it means to me
Take care, TCB, Oh (sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me)

To learn more about respite options available through Messiah Lifeways, call 717.790.8209. Also if you’d like to learn more about reducing caregiver burnout, join us for the next Coaching Workshop entitled “Caregiver Solutions” scheduled for Wednesday, September 18, 2013. To learn more or to RSVP, please call 717.591-7225 or online at messiahlifeways.org/events.

¹&² The 2012 MetLife Market Survey of Nursing Home, Assisted Living, Adult Day Services, and Home Care Costs- November 2012
Matthew J. Gallardo

Matthew J. Gallardo

Matt is the Director of Community Engagement and Coaching at Messiah Lifeways. He brings nearly 20 years of experience in counseling, advocating, and guiding older adults and caregivers through many of life’s tough decisions. His diverse background of working in hospital and rehabilitation settings, community services, and senior housing gives him the breadth and depth of knowledge to provide unique solutions, opportunities, and help individuals proactively plan for the future. He serves as the Lifeways Coach and as a writer, blogger, podcaster, and speaker for Messiah Lifeways, located in Mechanicsburg, PA.

Enhanced Living (Personal Care) at Messiah Village

Adult Day Services in Carlisle & Mechanicsburg



Inpatient and Outpatient Rehab at Messiah Village