How to Talk to Your Loved One About Respite Care

Respite care is an important step to take for those who have recently undergone surgery that leads to a significant lifestyle change, or when for full-time carers need be relieved of their responsibilities for a period of time. Respite care is also a comfortable solution that ensures round the clock, first-class care. Now despite the many benefits of respite care, you might need to bring your loved one on the journey so that they understand and accept these plans. Independence is never more important than in our golden years, and so we’re going to outline how to approach the respite care decision together.

Define the reasons why respite care is required, and what the process will entail

Education is the best policy here, and respite care should absolutely be a topic that is explored to its entirety before you lock in the arrangement. Explain why you have all arrived at this decision, whether it is to accommodate your carers some time away, or for following up an upcoming surgery or hospital visit. You also want to outline the chain of events, and what your loved ones can expect at each turn. This is the time to decide whether the respite care will be at their home, or another location, and the benefits and considerations of both options.

If possible, see if you can arrange a meeting with the dedicated carer or carers who will be looking after your family member. Like anything in life, having that face-to-face contact will nurture the future relationship, and they may even be able to tackle a few questions you are unsure about. That said, do your best to learn all the ins and outs so that you provide confidence to your dear loved one.

Establish a timeline for the respite care

When considering any life decision, having an established timeline will add some control and context to the situation. Knowing what’s to come ahead of time will create some excitement for the next steps or maybe simply acceptance. Sit down with your loved one and a diary, or whatever they use to plan, and discuss what will happen and when. The nature of respite care is that it is open-ended, so you will want to both clarify what the predicted length of the respite care is, and what circumstances would extend the care.

You also want to remember that the respite care timeline ultimately extends to when things return to ‘normal’. Ensure that you both appreciate what stages will come after respite care, for example, limited mobility in the first month, staying at a loved one’s home for two weeks and any lifestyle tweaks following the respite care that need to be included in the timeline.

Engage a GP or carer when you talk about respite care

It’s a great idea, at any age, to include your GP in any major decisions, but it’s even more important as we get older. You and your loved ones should share the magnitude of this decision, and lean on the experience and anecdotal account that your GP can share about respite care. If you are undecided about the care provider to use, this could be another driving reason to engage a GP in the discussion. Despite the fact you have probably known your elderly family member your whole life, our GP’s see another side of us and are often best placed to make the right decisions pertaining to our physical health and limits. 


This article here, and many more about respite care processes, will arm you with the information and leadership required to spearhead this journey. We would advise that you don’t make concrete plans before talking to your loved one so that you have the flexibility to gauge their response and act accordingly.