Creative Options for a Respite Break

Peer-to-Peer Respite for Older Adults – If your loved one has friends he or she once or currently participated in activities with—activities like fishing, playing cards, quilting, etc.—consider setting up ‘dates.’ In the right situations, it is a win-win for all. It provides a break for the caregiver, their loved one gets to engage in ‘normal’ activities, and his or her peers have opportunities to spend time with friends.

The person you care for may have specific assets and strengths that provide an opportunity for you to have a respite break. These include being able to stay home alone safely, to call 911 when needed, not being prone to wandering away from home, and being able to use basic technology e.g., smart phone, computer. If out in the community other skills include being able to communicate their home address, to use public transportation, and to reach out to a contact person if needed.

Adult Day Centers: The National Adult Day Services Association can help you find local adult day services at and you can find more information for caregivers at

Learning Experiences: State and community colleges often have opportunities for youth, adults and seniors to take classes on a non-credit basis. Some offer programs that are geared to seniors or individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities. In WA, residents age 60 and older may be able to waive tuition costs and pay only a small registration fee. Check your local community college or state college or university campus location.

Equine and other animal therapy: Numerous sites around WA state! Some programs involve supervised riding, others involve caring for and walking with the animals. Google “Equine therapy WA State”, “Riding programs WA State”, and “Animal Therapy programs WA State”. Many are specifically designed as respite opportunities.

Sports and Exercise: YMCAs, YWCAs, your town or city’s Parks and Recreation department.

Music Therapy; Inclusive Theater

Day and Overnight Camps (adults as well as children) The Arc Washington has a long list of camps across the state at

After-school Programs

Girl Scouts of the USA provides inclusive scouting activities for girls with special needs.

Boy Scouts of America involves boy scouts with physical, developmental or cognitive challenges in local troop activities

Social activities through your local faith community, with a supportive volunteer

Find a Family Day Out or a Parents Night Out. A variety of organizations from churches to schools to other civic organizations offer these. Google ‘Family Day Out’ or ‘Parents Night Out’ with the word ‘respite’ to find resources in your area.

Memory Cafes provide a safe and comfortable space where caregivers and their loved ones can socialize, listen to music, play games, and enjoy other appropriate activities. For a directory of Memory Cafes go to

Senior Centers in your town or city

The Senior Companion Program through Senior Corps, a branch of the federal Corporation for National & Community Service, matches volunteers older than 55 with seniors living independently to provide companionship, help with daily tasks and a break for family caregivers.

Time Banking is a time-based currency. Give an hour of service to another and receive a time credit. You might provide an hour of bookkeeping, for example, and receive an hour of respite. Timebanking takes place as members give and receive services to each other, or through group and community activities and projects. Members include individuals, groups, and organizations.

Explore the list of Lifespan Respite WA registered providers for out-of-home respite options in your area. Programs and services for adults and children. (You do not need to have a respite voucher award from Lifespan to use these programs, although they do charge fees).

Get Care – Community Living Connections

Another place to learn about these programs–or others–is through the Community Living Connections resource website, “Get Care“, where Washington residents can learn about and access the full range of private and public long-term service and support options. Whether you are looking for help for yourself or help for a loved one, you can locate services that best fit your needs.