Merck Manual

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Respite Care


Debra Bakerjian

, PhD, APRN, University of California Davis

Reviewed/Revised Oct 2022
View Patient Education

Family caregivers play a key role in delaying and possibly preventing institutionalization of chronically ill older people. However, depending on the home situation and the needs of the older person, providing home care for a substantial period of time can be psychologically and physically demanding.

Respite care is provision of temporary care by a substitute caregiver to provide relief to the regular caregiver. Over 50% of US states have respite programs. Programs may be provided in different settings:

  • In the home by respite care agencies or by home health care agencies

  • In the community by adult day care centers, respite care cooperatives, or freestanding respite facilities

  • In a long-term care facility (eg, by board-and-care facilities or nursing homes)

  • In a hospital

Duration of care may vary (eg, limited to 28 days in a calendar year).

Support comes from Medicaid (almost 50%), grants (25%), and private funds (25%).

More Information

The following English-language resources may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of these resources.

View Patient Education
NOTE: This is the Professional Version. CONSUMERS: View Consumer Version
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