PURPOSE: This study was a qualitative research study in which focus group interviews were used to collect data on the meaning of respite for family caregivers who are taking care of elders with dementia. METHODS: The focus group interviews and participants consisted of 2 family caregiver groups, for a total of 8 people taking care of their elders and 5 professional caregivers working in a geriatrics hospital or social welfare institutions. Content analysis was used and debriefing notes were referred in order to analyze the data. RESULTS: The meaning of respite in this research was measured using 4 main categories: 'Temporary break from routine', 'direct help', 'psychological comfort', 'valuables which cannot be taken easily' and 9 subcategories: 'Temporary diversion of attention', 'temporarily free from my duty', 'taking care of oneself', 'receiving economic help', 'empathize with others', 'comfort based on trust', 'resting together with the elder', 'no time to rest', 'cannot get out of one's obligatory duty'. CONCLUSION: The findings of the study show that rest means not only a temporary relief from caretaking, but also a real respite based on the patients' stable state and comfort. These results indicate a new meaning for respite, that the first step of respite program has to begin even when the caregivers do not recognize the need for respite.