Adult Day Care

What is Adult Day Care?

(from US Dept of Health and Human Services)

Adult Day Care Centers are designed to provide care and companionship for seniors who need assistance or supervision during the day. The program offers relief to family members or caregivers and allows them the freedom to go to work, handle personal business or just relax while knowing their relative is well cared for and safe.

The goals of the programs are to delay or prevent institutionalization by providing alternative care, to enhance self-esteem and to encourage socialization. There are two types of adult day care: Adult social day care provides social activities, meals, recreation and some health-related services. Adult day health care offers more intensive health, therapeutic and social services for individuals with severe medical problems and those at risk of requiring nursing home care.

Seniors generally take part in the program on a scheduled basis and the services that are offered may include counseling, education, exercise, meals, health screening and medical care, physical therapy, recreation, socialization, transportation, and medication management.

How do Adult Day Care Centers operate?

These centers are usually open during working hours and may stand alone or be located in senior centers, nursing facilities, churches or synagogues, hospitals, or schools. The staff may monitor medications, serve hot meals and snacks, perform physical or occupational therapy, and arrange social activities. They may also help to arrange transportation to and from the center itself.

Who can benefit from Adult Day Care?

Seniors who would otherwise be alone and/or isolated in the daytime while their loved ones are at work, seniors who would benefit from daytime supervision that includes medication management and meals, and family caregivers who cannot afford to stop or cut back on work hours to help a loved on in need of care.

The following case study is an example of a senior who may need adult day care services, both for his own well being and that of his family caregivers: Paul is 69 years old and recently suffered a stroke. He needs some care and supervision so he lives with his son and daughter-in-law, David and Kira. However, because David and Kira both work, they need help to care for Paul during the day. They found a solution to their problem by having Kira drop off Paul at the local adult day care center in the morning, and having David pick him up when he gets off work in the evening. The center monitors Paul’s medications and offers him lunch, some physical therapy, and a chance to socialize with other seniors.

What should I look for in an Adult Day Care Center?

Not all states license and regulate adult day care centers, so there may be a great deal of difference between individual centers. It is therefore important to learn more about each of the centers near you. You will probably want to visit the centers closest to you, and to talk with the staff and other families that use the centers to determine if the facilities and programs available meet your individual needs. You may want to find out if your state has an Adult Day Care Association.

Discuss the level of care and services desired and needed with your loved one and the staff at each adult day care center. Is the location convenient, accessible, and safe? Can they accommodate your loved one’s special medical requirements? Does the programming fit your loved one’s interests and needs? Is there supportive programming for you as a family caregiver? What is the daily cost and are there hidden expenses?

How do I pay for Adult Day Care services?

Costs vary among adult day centers. Costs range from $25 a day to over $100 per day depending on the services offered, type of reimbursement, and geographic region. While an adult day care center is not usually covered by insurance of Medicare, some financial assistance may be available through a federal or state program (e.g., Medicaid, Older Americans Act, Veterans Administration).

Where can I learn more about local services?

To find out more about the specific adult day care centers where you live, you will want to contact your local aging information and assistance provider or area agency on aging (AAA). The Eldercare Locator, a public service of the Administration on Aging (at 1-800-677-1116 or can help connect you to these agencies.

The National Adult Day Services Association is a good source for general information about adult day care centers and programs. They can help you link to a state adult day care association. It can be reached by calling the toll-free telephone number 1-866-890-7357 or by going to