Adult Day Care

Also known as: Adult Daycare Center, Adult Day Services

Last Updated: October 20, 2020

Written by the Open Caregiving Team. Editorial review by Joyce O. Murphy RN, MSN.

What is adult day care?

Adult day care is a type of respite care that gives caregivers a break for part of the day. It offers health services and socialization activities for older adults, adults with disabilities, and those living with dementia.

When should I consider adult day care?

Start looking into adult day care services before you’re in need of respite time. Some signs your loved one may soon need adult day care are:

  • They need help with ADLs or structuring their day.
  • They are no longer safe staying home alone for extended periods of time.
  • They feel lonely and blue.
  • They have trouble starting and finishing activities on their own.
  • You are not able to stay at home and care for them all day.

Around 50 percent of adult day care participants have thinking and memory concerns. Over 50 percent need help with two or more aspects of daily living, such as dressing and cooking. Your needs as a caregiver are also important. Adult day care can offer you rest when you find that:

  • It’s harder for you to offer the level of care needed to keep your loved one safe and comfortable.
  • You are having signs of caregiver burnout, such as exhaustion and feeling overwhelmed.

What programs and services does adult day care offer?

Adult day care centers typically have a social worker, activity director, and a certified nursing aide (CNA) on staff. They will often use volunteers to assist with activities. While adult day care offerings vary, most will provide:

  • Help with ADLs like eating, drinking, toileting, and transferring.
  • Outdoor and indoor exercise.
  • Social activities with peers.
  • Educational programming.
  • Nutritious meals and snacks.
  • Health checks based on needs.
  • Consistent supervision.
  • Varying types of therapy.
  • Medication management.
  • Transportation services to and from the care center.

Others may also offer:

  • Counseling and services for caregivers.
  • More in depth or specialized health services.
  • Pet therapy and volunteer services.

What hours do most adult day care centers operate?

While hours vary, most adult day care centers are open Monday through Friday during daytime hours. Some adult day care centers may also have limited hours on the weekends and evenings. It is always best to call each center to get details on their hours of operation.

How much does adult day care cost?

Costs for adult day services can vary significantly based on location, services offered, and financial support. While the average cost is $70 per day, some adult day care centers with government funding or financial aid start around $25 per day. Those with special services can reach up to $100 per day. Even at its most expensive, adult day care is a more affordable option than a home health aide or moving your loved one to a nursing home.

How to pay for adult day care

Medicaid

If your loved one meets the state’s requirements, Medicaid may cover part of their adult day care costs at a Medicaid approved facility.‌ Continue reading about your state’s Medicaid coverage of adult day care on PayingForSeniorcare.com.

Medicare

Medicare does not pay for adult day care.

Veteran Affairs

The Veterans Health Administration offers adult day care to many veterans. Continue reading to see if you are eligible on the VA adult day care page.

Long Term Care Insurance

Long-term care insurance may cover some adult day care costs if medical professionals are involved.

Other ways to pay for adult day care

Some adult day care centers will offer financial assistance funded by the government through various state agencies. To learn more about financial assistance, see the information available at the Administration for Community Living’s Eldercare Locator.

How to find adult day care options near me

  • You can find nearby adult day care centers that are part of the National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA) using their locator.
  • Learn more about your state’s Adult Day Services Association on their partners page.
  • Some adult day care facilities are part of other organizations, such as medical centers and long-term-care facilities that you’re already familiar with.
  • Once you have a short list of adult day centers that meet your loved one’s needs, visit each one to learn more about them.

Choosing the right adult day care center

Questions to ask during your visits to adult day care centers

Background

  • How long has the adult day center been open?
  • Is it a for-profit or non-profit adult day care center?
  • Does the center have a license, certification, or accreditation by the state or by Medicaid?
  • What time do they open and close the center? Do they have evening or weekend hours?
  • How do they handle late pickups? Do they offer transportation just in case?

Services

  • Does staff offer help with ADLs like eating, toileting, transfers?
  • Are there specialists on staff to provide care for conditions affecting memory and mobility?
  • What kind of exercise is available?
  • What kinds of indoors and outdoors activities are available?
  • How many meals or snacks are included? Are they able to accommodate special diets?
  • Who is and isn’t a good fit for the center? Do they expect your loved one to be a good fit for a while?
  • Do they offer any special services like physical therapy, occupational therapy, medical check ups, and hygiene care?
  • Are family members allowed to visit during the day?

Staff

  • What is the staff to participant ratio?
  • What ‌certifications or training do the staff have?
  • How long have staff members been working in the field and at that specific facility?
  • Do volunteers take part or help with any activities?

Facility

  • Is the facility clean and well maintained? Are there any powerful odors?
  • Are their security features like bars, handrails, and emergency call buttons around the center?
  • Is there pleasing furniture to create a comfortable setting?
  • Is the dining room comfortable, clean and spacious?
  • Does the food look appealing and healthy?
  • Has the facility passed all safety inspections? When was the last one?

Payment

  • How much does the center charge for different packages?
    • Do they offer hourly, daily and monthly plans and pricing? Do they require a deposit?
  • What do they include in the base price and what are the fees for additional services?
  • What forms of payment do they offer? Are there any additional charges for any forms of payment?
  • Do they provide need-based financial assistance or partner with local or state government to provide financial assistance?
  • Is their contract clear and informative?

Testing out adult day care centers

Once you’ve located an adult day care center to use, test it out and allow for a period of adjustment. If your loved one does not feel comfortable after a few weeks there, you can try a different facility.

What is the difference between a senior community center and adult day care?

Senior community centers: are where healthy older adults can socialize with their peers. They get to take classes, attend events, and exercise without constant supervision or attention.

Adult day care centers: are where older adults with physical or mental disabilities can enjoy the above activities. They benefit from supervision, personal care and medical assistance while they are at the program.

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