Why Senior Respite Care Is Essential for Caregivers

caregiver holding senior in wheelchair

Mental and physical fatigue can be a severe burden for family caregivers, who may not have time to care for themselves. Respite care is a support system for family caregivers working tirelessly to take care of their loved ones during the day. According to Stats Canada, in 2018, 7.8 million Canadians aged 15 and older were caregivers.

Respite care is an essential service. It helps relieve stress and ensures quality time between patient and caregiver without worrying about overworking themselves, leading to burnout from lack of rest.

What Is Senior Respite Care?

Senior respite care is a service designed to provide temporary relief for family members caring for their ageing loved ones. The caregivers can leave the house, go grocery shopping, do laundry, or take time off work without having to worry about leaving their loved ones at home. Respite providers are typically available 24 hours per day during workdays as well as weekends if needed.

Why Do Caregivers Need Respite Care?

For some, being a caregiver can be challenging. The endless hours of care, housekeeping and medication management can be exhausting and overwhelming. Caregivers need to be mindful of their own health in order to provide the best care. This can be achieved by taking some time off, so they don't burn out or become too strained.

Respite care services can be the key to the overall well-being of caregivers. Without it, they are susceptible to experiencing extreme stress, which may lead them to become angry and resentful towards others or the person they care for.

It is crucial that respite care benefits those who need a break and relieves strain on relationships. This benefit does not go unnoticed, especially when caring becomes overwhelming due to lack of sleep and constant worry about one's loved one's health needs.

Respite care offers many positive effects, including reduced stress levels, more energy, increased productivity, and healthier relationships.

The Different Types of Senior Respite Care

There are many different types of senior respite care, depending on both you and your loved one's needs. It typically boils down to two things: sharing the responsibility of caring for a loved one and getting support.

different types of senior respite care

In-Home Respite Care

In-home respite care can be provided either occasionally as needed, or regularly. Home care services may be scheduled for a few hours or even a short-term stay. This is a popular choice, as it allows for your loved one to stay in their home while they continue to receive care. In-home respite care is typically performed by:

  • Volunteers or family members
  • Trained staff from home care agencies
  • Personal care providers
  • Homemaker services
  • Skilled health care workers
  • Companion services

Out-Of-Home Respite Care

Adult Day Care Center

Adult daycare services are a growing resource for individuals who cannot take care of themselves independently and depend on others to care for them. These facilities offer activities that promote wellness through socialization, companionship, health service offerings, and meals in a safe and fun environment. These are especially popular for those caring for adults with special needs. Typically, Adult daycare centers run throughout daytime hours, Monday to Friday.

Short-Term Respite Stay

Residential programs offer temporary care for varying lengths of time. These group homes, assisted living communities, nursing homes, and specialized facilities accommodate emergency and planned overnight services allowing caregivers to have 24-hour relief from the difficulties of caring for a loved one.

Specialized Respite Care

If your loved one lives with Alzheimer's, cancer, or is recovering from a stroke, there may be respite services tailored to their medical conditions and level of care needed. While not obtainable in all areas, it's worth researching the nearest specialized respite care providers closest to you.

Benefits of Senior Respite Care

Caring for an ageing loved one can be a rewarding experience, but sometimes it is both demanding and stressful. Many people are so involved in caring for their family members that they forget to tend to themselves. In addition to helping caregivers, respite care has benefits for their loved ones, such as the chance to meet people, a fun change of pace, and the possibility of testing out living in a care facility.

benefits of senior respite care

Peace Of Mind

When caring for someone, your brain is always on alert, and it can lead to overstimulation. With respite care, you do not have to worry about what your loved ones are doing while you get some much-needed peace of mind in the process.


Life isn't always predictable. If you are a primary caregiver for a loved one, it can be hard to find the time and resources needed when emergencies or obligations arise that require leaving your home.

Reduces Stress

According to Statcan, roughly 33% of family caregivers find their situation highly stressful, and struggle with caregiver burnout. When your caregiving duties become too overwhelming and overpower your own needs, you miss work hours, financial hardship, can compromise your immune system, or experience a loss of social freedom. Respite care can provide a much-needed break from your caregiver duties so that you can focus on your mental health and stress levels.

Social Engagement

As a caregiver, you might find yourself with limited social interaction throughout your day. The best way for an individual caring for someone to enjoy life more fully is by finding time to meet up with friends, family members, or other loved ones to ensure they are not going through this journey alone. Whether it's a weekend off or a much-needed vacation, respite care offers opportunities to be with people your age who share similar interests.

How Much Does Senior Respite Care Cost?

Policies vary across Canada for the cost of respite care. There is no direct cost to the user for in-home respite in:

  • Ontario
  • Manitoba
  • Yukon
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nunavut
  • First Nations and Inuit Health Branch programs
  • Veterans Affairs Canada programs

In others, income or income plus assets are assessed in determining eligibility for services, and the proportion of costs are to be shared by the family. However, many clients who receive public services do not have to pay fees due to their low income. These provinces include:

  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Nova Scotia
  • Prince Edward Island
  • New Brunswick
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
  • Alberta
  • British Columbia

Some provinces have monthly caps ($61 - $360/month in Saskatchewan and $300/month in Alberta) that are to be paid by the family, after which the public system covers the cost. For more information, visit the Government of Canada's official website.