What Does It Mean to Have Respite?

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oxygen-masks-aircraft_readyWhat does ‘respite’ mean and what does it have to do with you? Well, a good way to look at respite provisions is to think about the last time you flew somewhere. Do you listen to the safety instructions from the flight crew? An emergency on board an aircraft where the cabin’s pressure is lost will mean you’ll have an oxygen mask deploy right smack dab in your face; startling to be sure.  If you listened before the aircraft left the ground, did you hear them tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself and then help others?

Safety in the Air

After seven years working for a legacy airline I never saw the O2 masks drop down, but if I’d had one of my kids with me during an inflight emergency then I’d have to be sure I didn’t pass out from lack of oxygen, mask on me first, so I could help them. YOU do not want to ‘pass out’ when caring for your special person, either!

What IS Respite?

The fact of the matter is that if you are not able to take care of yourself while caring for your loved one, stress levels can go out the roof. Do you have the opportunity to…

• Rest
• Take care of personal matters, like your own doctor appointments
• Enjoy some personal time or some quiet time, maybe to just be alone to read
• Take a break from the 24/7 needs of your disabled child
• Are you and your mate getting uninterrupted face time

The reality is that having support services in place should be something you secure before you get worn out. This support is called “respite” and its function is to care for the needs of the caregivers.

Everyone Benefits

What some families experience is that the other members, like the other kids in the family, get lost in the shuffle of daily needs, especially if our loved one is medically fragile. The teenager may not have a parent present enough to teach him to drive, or your adolescent may suddenly find herself in the wrong company or be doing too much ‘social networking’ and be at risk for an online predator. If you are present for the special needs person and trying not to be absent to other family members, your “emotional tank” is at risk of running dry.

Nothing can be more unsettling than to have other’s needs be continually pushed to the back burner because your hectic schedule with therapists and doctors consumes your week. And other family members, while they know and recognize why things are the way they are and that they are certainly loved, still may feel a sort of emptiness from lack of attention to their needs. Arranging for respite services can mean you have not just time to recharge your emotions but that you can ‘be there’ for those other kids too, and for your husband or wife.

My ‘Run Down’ Experience

I know when I’m exhausted then my patience gets pretty thin. Not one good thing comes out of these stressful responses to overload.

• I have felt demoralized when I snap at someone, or forget to make the teenager’s dentist appointment, or angrily respond to that repetitive question one more time
• I feel the pressure build inside of me, can you?
• I’ve begun to recognize the switch to my mental and emotional overload.   Do you?
• I have felt overwhelmed from time to time rather than calm and collected.

And the respite provisions have helped me capture those out of sync moments and regain my balance.

Another Way to Think of Respite

Consider what Nancy Olson, R.N., President of the Respite Care Association of Wisconsin, said about RESPITE. She created this and it is well spoken because respite is more than giving yourself a break it is:

Relaxation.       Gives families peace of mind, helps them to relax, and renews their humor and energy;
Enjoyment.      Allows families to enjoy favorite pastimes and pursue new interests and activities;
Stability.            Improves the family’s ability to cope with the daily responsibilities and maintain stability during crisis;
Preservation.  Helps preserve the family unit, lessens pressures leading to out-of-home placement, divorce, abuse and neglect;
Involvement.   Allows families time off to become involved in community activities and to feel less isolated;
Time off            Allows a family to take that much needed vacation, spend time together, or time alone;
Enrichment   Makes it possible for family members to establish individual identities & to enrich growth and development.

Respite is a wonderful gift that will help you to maintain balance in your life and that of your family.
And you know what…it will enrich your special needs child too because they will be socially engaging with others in a safe, non-threatening environment, their own home.
Here is another resource that can help you begin to dig for that treasure of a respite provider:


US airways plane on water

So rather than being here…




we can be here…flying off into the sunset, a good ending because we arranged for respite services and we can be and do better for ourselves and our loved ones.

  aircraft into the sunset


Please feel free to comment below or if you’d like to email me with questions I will answer you as quickly as I can.   Here is my email:  linda@specialneedsadvocatepower.com

I hope you found this helpful.

2 Responses to “What Does It Mean to Have Respite?

  • What a revolutionary way of looking at the word respite! Loved the article:)

    • admin

      Hello Mahevash. So glad you dropped in and found an article to “love” 🙂 I am very blessed to have great respite services. They do help us to maintain balance in a week that can sometimes be chaotic.

      I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and hope the information can benefit you and those you love.


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