The senior years can often be filled with many challenges such as sickness, loneliness and reduced mobility and these sometimes cause frustration and stress for both the seniors and the caregivers. Adult day care is a welcome break and a win/win situation for both the elderly family member and the primary caregiver. It provides your family with a safe, caring and friendly environment to get the needed medical and social attention. In addition, it provides caregivers with a breathing space to do other things and reduces the likelihood of burnout from the 24/7 care, while at the same time knowing that their loved ones are getting good care.

What is an Adult Day Care Center?

Adult day care involves specialized programs that are designed to enhance the social, mental and physical care as well as health needs of seniors. At the senior center, the elderly are supervised and provided with assistance and companionship. The centers generally operate Mondays to Fridays during work hours, with some providing half-day services on Saturdays as well as some evening care.

Most adult day care centers are non-profit facilities with a few publicly funded and for profit.

There are two main types of adult day care and the focus is usually on:

  1. Social activities along with recreation, meals and limited services for health issues.
  2. Serious health care services along with meals, social and therapeutic services.

While most adult day centers serve the general population, some cater to specific groups, such as persons with Alzheimer’s or some forms of dementia; and meals, social and health care activities are also included.

Activities and Services Provided by Adult Day Care Centers

Without adult day care, many seniors would have been institutionalized; therefore it plays a critical role in preventing or delaying this action. The goal of adult day care is to help the elderly to maintain or to improve on their social, physical and mental abilities and skills, while addressing their health needs. The centers offer a wide range of activities such as local outings, holiday and birthday celebrations, entertainment with music, singing and art and craft. There are also interactive games, light exercises, group discussions and film shows.

The structured programs and activities may include:

  • Socialization, exercise and recreation.
  • Health screening, medical care and medication management.
  • Counseling, physical therapy and respite care.
  • Meals and transportation to and from the center.

At some adult day centers, seniors interact with children especially for art and craft activities. In addition, some seniors get the opportunity to give back to their community by sharing about their life experiences with school children and other community groups.

Benefits of Adult Day Care

Adult day care offers a great opportunity to keep the family unit together. Instead of being institutionalized, the senior will be able to stay at home, without requiring round the clock attention from his or her primary caregiver. It also allows the primary caregiver to work outside the home, run errands and to get a break from providing care to their relative on a 24/7 basis.

For the adult day care participants, there are many great benefits, including:

  • A pleasant and safe supervised environment .
  • Customized care based on needs.
  • Assistance with activities of daily living.
  • Support from and socializing with peers.
  • Helping to develop seniors’ independence and sense of belonging.
  • Nutritionally prepared meals based on health needs.
  • Stimulating social and educational activities.

When to Use an Adult Day Care Center

Sometimes making a decision to use an adult day care center can pose a challenge for members of the family. Caregivers may feel as if they are giving up on their love ones and turning them over to strangers and the elderly may feel as if they are giving up their independence. However, using an adult day care center benefits all parties and should be an important component of a balanced home health care plan.

Seniors should always look at the possibility of using an adult day care and signs that it is time for the family to explore this option may result if the:

  • primary caregivers are unable to continue to provide round the clock care.
  • elderly is unable to be left safely and alone at home.
  • senior is in need of peer support, interaction and socialization.
  • senior requires help with structuring his or her own activities of daily living.

How to Find the Best Adult Day Care Center

When looking to find an adult day care center you should first identify the needs of both the senior and the family. This should take into consideration whether the senior’s main needs are more for social or medical.

Conducting research to find out if the adult day care is right for your family is very important.

A quality adult day care facility should include the following procedures:

  1. Assesses the needs and abilities of each participant before admission.
  2. Develops, monitors and adjusts individual treatment plans for every participant.
  3. Uses staff and volunteers who are qualified and properly trained.
  4. Implements standards and guidelines for both the state and national level.
  5. Provides very clear guidelines regarding termination and offers referrals for other community services.

In addition, an extremely good adult day care program should provide a range of in-house services and activities in a safe and secure environment. These should meet the daily needs of participants, such as personal care, meals, transportation, recreational and rehabilitation.

Equipped with your information, you should then proceed to locate and learn more about the adult day care centers in your area. Good sources for references and information may include:

  • Your local and national agencies that deal with aging, such as the National Council on Aging.
  • Social services and mental health centers.
  • Your family doctor and therapist.
  • Recommendations from current users.
  • Listings for ‘adult day care centers’ in the Yellow Pages.

*When contacting the adult care facilities, you should ask questions regarding the agency’s license, owners and length of time in operation, days and hours of operation, activities, programs, meals and staff qualifications.

Once you have identified the centers you would like to consider, you should visit them and speak with the staff and other families that use the center, since standards and services may differ. This will help you to determine if the facilities and programs offered meet with your requirements. Take along the recommended checklist by the National Aging Information Center to help you in your decision-making.

Costs and Funding for Adult Day Care

Costs for adult day care centers will vary depending on types of services, geographic location and type of reimbursements. Generally, the cost ranges from $25 to $100 daily and it is not usually covered by Medicare. However, some private medical insurance coverage and government or state assistance such as Medicaid and Veterans Administration may be available if you use a licensed facility. In addition, caregivers may benefit from tax credits for dependent care.

Other Resources and Links

Eldercare Locator, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging. The Eldercare Locator is your first step for finding local agencies, in every U.S. community, that can help older persons and their families access home and community-based services like transportation, meals, home care, and caregiver support services.

Find Adult Day Centers in your area National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA)

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