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Providing care is a tremendous responsibility that family members often undertake.  Family caregivers must find ways to take breaks from their caregiving responsibilities.   No one can continue to expend all available energy giving to someone else, without replenishing personal reserves. Respite care provides this relief, and allows caregivers to maintain their loved ones at home longer. Many caregivers consider taking a break to be the most important thing they can do for themselves in order to sustain their ability and desire to care for someone else.
Family members who provide care around the clock should consider hiring help on a regular basis to allow the caregiver time to run errands and attend to personal needs and recreation.  Adult day care can help provide a needed break during the day.  Companion care can be provided by home care agencies or other family members.
While regular weekly help is critical, family caregivers should also consider the occasional vacation.  Short term respite care in an assisted living facility is often available. Most caregivers do not admit (even to themselves) their need for a respite.  Oftentimes the caregiving burden has increased so gradually that they have become accustomed to the responsibility.  However, their stress level may have increased to the point of threatening the caregiver’s health.  Additionally, they may not be doing as good a job as a caregiver due to their shortened patience level with their loved one.  They may not want to acknowledge that the person that they are caring for could benefit from interaction with another person.
Respite is distinct from Hospice care.  Hospice is designed for giving comfort and aid to persons who have less than six months to live.  Hospice is paid for by Medicare, and can benefit those in a terminal condition.  Limited respite care is available for Hospice patients. But respite care is not only associated with Hospice care and can be used at any time, with or without a terminal diagnosis.  Respite is designed to give the caregiver a break, and improve his or her ability to be a caregiver.

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