The Importance of Respite Care

Keeping an elderly loved one in their home as long as possible is desirable, but it also can be an exhausting labor of love for family caregivers.

If your loved one needs 24-hour support, it can be challenging to find time for a vacation, a doctor’s appointment or even a trip to the grocery store. Burnout, exhaustion and frustration can quickly settle in.

Respite care can help to alleviate some of the physical and mental demands of caregiving.

“Taking care of a loved one is important,” says Genn Bervig, director of admissions and social services at Eventide. “It’s also important to take care of yourself if you’re the caregiver. That’s the best way you can continue to provide care for your loved one.”

Bervig regularly receives calls from family members looking for assistance.

“I’ve heard from caregivers who need surgery themselves and they’re wondering: ‘who’s going to take care of my loved one while I’m recuperating?’” she says.

Eventide doesn’t provide respite services for the general public. It does provide respite services for hospice patients through Hospice of the Red River Valley.

But there are formal and informal, in-home and out-of-home respite options available.

Ideally, caregivers can find another family member or a friend who can step in for a short period of time, whether it’s an hour or two each day or for a full week of vacation. This may be a good option if the senior doesn’t need special medical care but needs to have somebody around.

When a family member or friend isn’t an option:

· Ask a parish nurse for ideas. If your loved one is a member of a church or faith community, there may be a volunteer who could stop by for a couple hours each week.

· Search for a respite service. If you are looking in Cass County (North Dakota) or Clay County (Minnesota), visit This website provides a list of area service providers who provide day or overnight relief care for seniors needing supervision.

· Consider adult day care. Again, provides a list of options. An adult day care center provides meals, socialization, games and educational activities. Caregivers then have the freedom to work or take care of other household needs during the day.

Paying for respite care can be difficult. Insurance may cover if the care providers are licensed medical professionals. Long-term care policies may pay for some services. Some states provide Medicaid waivers to offset costs. Some state agencies have funds set aside to help in certain cases.

You can find information on respite care funding in North Dakota here.

You can find information on respite care funding in Minnesota here.

The important thing is to recognize that family caregivers need sufficient and regular amounts of time away. It’s not only okay, it’s healthy to take a break.