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How is respite care different from Personal Care?

How is respite care different from Personal Care

Respite care and home care are just some of the most basic services we use to care for the elderly. Often, we confuse the services with each other since they are very similar. In this blog, we will shed light on the difference between respite care and personal care so you will know which type of service you should get in case you need it.

Personal Care

Personal care for the elderly refers to the supervision or support of ADLs (activities of daily living). Licensed in-home care professionals are the most appropriate persons to give personal care as they are trained to help the elderly fulfill a healthy lifestyle. The six major ADLs that personal care professionals deal with most commonly are the following:

  • Bathing and hygiene
  • Grooming
  • Eating/feeding
  • Mobility
  • Dressing
  • Continence Care/ Toileting

One by one, we shall explain these ADLs to give you an idea of what personal care consists of.

Bathing and hygiene

It is vital for the elderly to maintain a good level of personal hygiene to improve their health and wellbeing. And personal care providers provide bathing assistance. These include activities (but are not limited to) such as supervision in the tub or shower, sponge baths, helping with brushing the teeth, and even skincare.


Like younger ones, the elderly may still be conscious of their appearance as this contributes to their self-esteem. Helping the elderly in his or her personal grooming activities is included in a personal care provider’s daily task.

Eating or feeding

In any case necessary, personal care professionals help in the meal preparation and feeding of seniors who have difficulty feeding themselves.


If a senior has mobility issues, the personal care provider can also assist the senior with this task. This includes helping the senior get in and out of bed safely or even just going around the house. The elderly are prone to accidents due to diminishing senses and developing issues in the body. Thus, someone must assist them in safety.


Generally, dressing seems like second nature to us. But for seniors, a simple activity like dressing could already be a hazard. So, assisting seniors in this activity would help them continue their daily activities with sure safety.

Continence Care/ Toileting

Licensed personal care professionals are trained to assist the elderly in situations like this. Although a usual personal activity, safety around the bathroom is critical for the elderly to preserve their health, as well as their dignity. 

In short, personal care is about having someone assist the elderly with their daily activities to improve their quality of life. Although respite care is similar in terms of the services offered, the significant difference would be the different types of respite care and the duration of care provided to the senior. 

Respite Care

In case you are the one who takes care of an elderly in your family, you will inevitably feel exhausted at some point. This is where respite care comes in. A respite care provider fills in your spot temporarily in taking care of your family member. This time can range from hours to days, depending on what you have agreed upon.

Taking care of an elderly can take a toll on someone’s physical and mental health. So, taking a break at times is also necessary to gain back the lost strength and energy to help yourself move forward. 

Also, you do not have to wait until you are extremely tired before you can get respite care services. You can schedule the service at times that you need them. For example, if you want to attend an occasion, a party, do errands or appointments, or even take a vacation, you can have respite care.

Types of respite care

Respite care may be formal or informal. It can be a family member taking over your place for a while or professional taking care of the senior in a care facility. You may choose among the services available in your area.

In-home respite care

This type of respite care is when the respite care provider comes to where the senior is living. The care provider may stay there during the day or even overnight.

Center-based respite care

This type of respite care can be comparable to a daycare. The center usually caters to the elderly and offers activities to the participants during the day. This is also an excellent opportunity for the elderly to meet other people in a secure environment.

Weekend or overnight respite care

This type of respite can be compared with a vacation for the elderly. Usually, the setting is in a cottage-style respite care house or a host family’s house where the elderly will receive care.

Emergency respite care

This type of respite care is ideal for instances when you suddenly cannot continue taking care of the elderly due to a severe illness or in case you become hospitalized. 

Transition care

This type of respite care is ideal for people who are ready to be discharged from the hospital but need assistance every once in a while. Usually, transition care is short-term and may be focused on an elderly’s necessary therapies such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, nutrition therapy, social work, and counseling.

You can get respite care from different sources. You may contact a home care facility, agencies, local organizations, or even family members for this service.

Make the most of respite care and personal care services.

You may have already been familiar with both services and know which to get at certain periods by this time. Make sure that you plan ahead when getting the services to ensure that your loved one will have a positive experience with the care provider. You may do the following activities to assure your loved one that he or she is safe even without your presence:

  • Talk to the care provider and assess him or her about your and your loved one’s needs.
  • Inform the care provider of the dos and don’ts of your loved one.
  • Start with small breaks, then transition to longer intervals to give the elderly confidence about the care.
  • Consult with people who got care services and talk about how the service worked for both the caregiver and care recipient.

Should you need personal care services or respite care services, Vitality Home Health will be there to assist you. Contact us to know more about our home health services.


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