Obtaining respite, defined as having time away from performing caregiving tasks and meeting various responsibilities, has been found to be the single most desired and needed service by family caregivers to older adults. Although respite has the potential to enhance the quality of life for most caregivers, far too many caregivers wait too long to use the services, do not use them often or regularly enough, or spend their respite time unwisely (thus not deriving the maximum benefit). Also, many caregivers feel guilty and reluctant to use the services even when they are available. This article helps document the value of using respite services, describes the various forms in which they are available, and offers suggestions on how to make the most out of these promising services.
Key words: respite, caregiving, older adults, quality of life.