Respite Care and its Barriers

Elderly woman washing her hands

Respite is defined as: for family care partners who provide ongoing care to someone with a chronic or disabling condition or for a family facing undue hardship or crisis. Respite means planned or emergency care provided to a child or adult with a special need in order to provide temporary relief to the family care partner of that child or adult.

Respite is a much deserved break for caregivers that sometimes they do not take. Starting a consistent regime of respite early on in the caregiving experience has many benefits to the care partner and the care recipient.  However, there are many reasons why the care partner does not want to consider respite.  Some reasons include:  the care partner doesn’t feel like they need a break; they feel guilty for even thinking about leaving their loved one in someone else’s care; they don’t trust that anyone else can provide the needed quality of care for their loved one; they think the care recipient will not be receptive to anyone else caring for them. 

These ideas are rarely the reality.  More logistical barriers to respite are:  confusing and restrictive eligibility criteria; affordability issues; limited provider or respite options; or care partners do not always identify as a ‘caregiver’ and they tend to not ask for help.  These logistical barriers are reality.  Many of our community partners are working diligently to reduce these logistical barriers.

Education about respite is crucial.  Reaching the family member caring for a loved one and helping them to identify as a ‘care partner’ is difficult.  When my Dad and I took care of my Mom, we didn’t identify as Caregivers or Care Partners.  We were husband/daughter taking care of wife/mother.  Self-identification as a care partner is the first step.  When a care partner self-identifies, then education about respite can begin.

Are you a care partner?  Here are a few statements to help self-identify.

  • I take time off from work or from my personal activities to accompany a friend or loved one to a doctor’s appointment.
  • I give up things I like to do so I can help a friend or loved one.
  • I assist a friend or loved one with grocery shopping and/or help with other errands.
  • I help a friend or loved one with finances.
  • I reduced my work hours, or took family leave; or limited my personal activities to help care for a loved one.

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you are a care partner.  Please stay tuned to this blog to learn more about Respite.

For more information and/or current needs for respite, contact Marta Malone at or 775-237-8375 or visit

For more resources on respite care, please visit or call the Community Foundation at 775-333-5499.