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Adult Day Care for Seniors

Chris Hawkins Written by Chris Hawkins
SeniorLiving.Org Expert on Senior Care & Assisted Living

Adult day care centers have filled a crucial gap in the senior living care market, allowing seniors to delay the need for an assisted living facility or nursing home. Adult day care facilities provide socialization and care services to seniors while also providing a needed break for their caregivers. We’ll show you what you can expect from these specialized senior care centers.

Why Adult Day Care?

Many seniors are in a situation where their needs aren’t being met at home. These needs can be as simple as wanting regular socialization with their peers to a more crucial need such as needing help managing a chronic disease such as diabetes. If they are receiving some assistance at home from a caregiver (friend, family member), these caregivers often are trained to handle a senior’s increasing needs nor do they have the time.

While these needs can certainly be filled with institutionalized care such as assisted living and nursing homes, these types of senior care options aren’t always possible for a variety of reasons, mostly financial.

Adult day care fills these needs for over 260,000 seniors and their caregivers. They provide a number of important day-to-day services and activities designed to maintain health, enhance self-esteem and to increase overall quality of life.

Types of Adult Day Care

As you search adult day care centers in your area, you’ll likely find three types of facilities:

  • Social
  • Medical
  • Specialized

Social adult day care centers provide recreation, meals and some level of health services. Medical facilities are staffed by nurses and social workers and typically provide medication management, health monitoring, disease management, physical therapy and podiatry services. Specialized adult day care facilities focus on specific care such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Some adult day care facilities offer a combination of social and medical programs.

Services Provided

The services provided by adult day care centers vary from facility to facility and by facility type. Here are the types of services you’ll find most often:

  • Socialization
  • Recreation
  • Health screening
  • Memory and cognition therapy
  • Medical care
  • Counseling
  • Physical therapy
  • Nutritious meals
  • Respite care
  • Volunteer and community service programs
  • Therapeutic activities
  • Family support groups for caregivers
  • Medication management
  • Door-to-door transportation

Who Offers Adult Day Care?

According to the National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA), over 5,000 adult day care centers dot the U.S., an increase of 35% since 2002.

A MetLife Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs says that about 70% are freestanding facilities; 11% are connected to nursing homes; 8% are connected to assisted living facilities; 2% are connected to a hospital.

Some assisted living facilities and nursing homes offer adult day care to not only their residents, but to members of the community. About 75% of adult day care facilities are operated as non-profits while the rest are for-profit.

The majority of facilities are open Monday thru Friday with a small percentage open on weekends.

Regulation of adult day care varies from state to state with some states having no regulation in place. To find out more about a particular facility in your area, contact your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) or your state’s Department of Aging.

When Does One Need Adult Day Care?

As stated above, these facilities have filled a crucial gap in senior care. Not every senior can afford the cost of assisted living. And not every senior needs the level of care provided by assisted living facilities. Here are some common reasons seniors and their caregivers choose adult day care.

  • When a senior desires or needs socialization because of isolation
  • When a senior desires or needs recreation with their peers
  • When a senior desires or needs regular exercise
  • If a senior is in the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s
  • If a senior needs help with chronic disease management (cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, etc.) and health maintenance
  • When a senior’s caregiver needs a break

Costs and Paying for Adult Day Care

Adult day care costs vary greatly from state to state and from region to region. As can be expected, rates are generally higher in the Northeast and lower in the South. According the 2012 MetLife Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs, the average daily rate for adult day care was $70. The highest average state rate was Vermont at $141 a day while the lowest average rate of $39 a day was found in Alabama.

Many facilities offer drop-in rates for those seniors who need a day or two of care. Seniors are typically charged by the hour in these situations.

Many seniors who use adult day care end up paying for it out-of-pocket. Adult day care is not typically covered by Medicare and Medicaid. However, if you have the Medicare Advantage Plan, you may be covered under Part C of that plan. Also, the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)—a part of Medicare/Medicaid—provides financial support for qualified seniors in a limited number of states.

The Veterans Administration also provides support for veterans under their Adult Day Health Care program.

Other ways to pay include long-term care insurance, cashing in on life insurance policies, finding support from your local church.

Contact your local Area Agency on Aging and your state’s Aging Department and ask if there are state-specific programs that provide assistance.

Final Thoughts

Adult day care centers have filled an important void for thousands of seniors and their caregivers who simply can’t afford or are not ready for traditional senior care options such as nursing homes and assisted living. You can search Senior Living  for an adult day care center near you but this is a new feature and our data may light in some areas.

Updated: Feb 18, 2013


[12] Comments... Read them below.
Karen Toolan On Dec 29, 2014
Am seeking Masonic/Eastern Star home care information (both residential and/or in-home care) for Hendersonville NC area. Thanks much - KBT

Taylor byars On Nov 29, 2014
Looking for a social day support center. Want to go on outings and attend short classes. I am 65 and don't need any nursing care. I'm independent mentally and physically. However I do see a psychiatrist for anxiety and panic attacks that are controlled by medications.

Lars Melger On Oct 15, 2014
We're looking for a good place to put my grandmother in her last days. She maybe in her 70's and still kicking (quite literally, she still does martial arts). But she's been showing slight signs of early onset Dementia. We think it's time to get her good care.

Richard Stahle On Oct 11, 2014
looking for an Adult Day Care resource center for Weekends Only in Wisconsin

R Stahle On Aug 16, 2014
Looking for weekend adult day care services

tee On Aug 14, 2014
I'm sorry I live in NYC and I can't find any financial assistance to help defray costs of putting my mother in an adult care care facility. $106 a day is too much because she needs to be there M-F so I can work & have some semblance of peace. I am EXTREMELY angry that every time I find a good place I can't afford it because she doesn't qualify for medicaid.

Stephanie Marlow On May 27, 2014
At the nursing home I work at, we try hard to provide the activities and socialization that seniors need. But I would definitely rmend checking out the adult day cares first. It's a less invasive route that will help you or your parents fulfill their needs. Senior Care Franchises ( can only do so much.

Suzanne On Jan 16, 2014
Paying for adult day care. Most adult day care centers take Medicaid. NY and NJ are paid for by HMO's and Massachusetts is MassHealth and California is Medical. Most seniors do not pay out of their own pocket for adult day care.

Gail G. On Sep 12, 2013
Great article on Adult Daycare! As an Adult Daycare Provider, I getments all the time on what a great concept Adult Daycare is. It is More affordable than Assisted Living and much more personalized. Thanks for educating the public!

Bella cruse On Mar 4, 2013
Nice read! Investing some funds for senior care is essential for their living and long term care. When it comes to covering the cost of senior care there are so many options which generally includes private, Government and no-profitable sources. Medicare and medicate generally include the cost of doctor bills and other hospital bills.

Amy K. On Feb 22, 2013
As a working mother of 3 and a caregiver for my mother, I found that adult day care is the best and most affordable option for keeping my mom active and engaged. You goes on field trips every other day to some local place and she is building a network of friends at the care center.

Molly MacBean On Feb 19, 2013
Participants of adult day care typically need help in at least one adult daily living function, e.g., eating, transportation, bathing, etc., that adult day care centers can provide. Many participants are eligible for nursing homes but they and their families choose to stay together and minimize the cost of long term care. Your article is concise and very helpful to educate the public about our services. Adult day care saves money, increases socialization and helps participants and their caregivers live happier, calmer lives. Thank you!