Adult Day Care
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Adult Day Care

Adult Day Centers

With the aging of the American population, more people are in need of senior care services for themselves or for their family members. Many individuals must combine caring for senior family members with working a full-time job. Adult day care is one option that has become very popular for a variety of reasons. It offers stimulation, safety and socialization in a caring environment, and allows seniors to stay in their own communities. It also allows caregivers time to work or to refresh and re-cooperate. Adult day care services offer an estimated 8.5 million hours of care for adults in a year. About 57 percent of participants in adult day care programs are female. About 65 percent of participants need help with three or more activities of daily living. Adult day care can be a good option for those trying to balance caring for senior family members with other demands. Here are a few facts you should know about adult day care for the senior population:

What Is An Adult Day Care Facility?

Adult day care is a separate facility that provides care for seniors during certain hours, while other family members work or take a break from caregiving. These centers generally operate during daytime working hours during the week, although some may have evening or weekend hours. They provide a variety of services, which can vary from one facility to another, such as social activities, healthcare screenings, personal care, medication management, speech or occupational therapy, exercise and games for mental stimulation. The facilities are staffed by trained caregivers and provide a safe and interesting environment for seniors to interact with others.

Who Needs Adult Day Care?

Any senior that has health issues that affect their ability to care for themselves or perform daily tasks or any senior that needs to socialize can benefit from adult day care.

  • Family members that worry about an elder who cannot cook for themselves may wish to take advantage of meals provided at adult day care.
  • Elders that have mobility problems may look for an adult day care center that can look after them while they are at work or involved in necessary daily tasks.
  • An elder that has experienced frequent falls and need physical monitoring during the day can benefit from the day care setting.
  • Seniors who have difficulty taking their medications on the given schedule because of memory problems or physical impairment can receive help with that task at adult day care.
  • Elders with particular health problems can benefit from the regular monitoring of their condition at the day care center.
  • Elders who are dealing with depression or feelings of isolation can benefit from the companionship and socializing the adult day care provides. Individuals who are bored and need more mental stimulation will benefit from the activities offered at the adult day care facility.

Adult Day Care Is Not A Community Senior Center

Many communities across the country provide senior centers that offer senior citizens an opportunity to take classes, attend social events, and engage in a variety of community-based activities. Senior centers are different than adult day care in that they assume the person lives independently and does not have health issues that would impair their ability to move, think or function in their own interests on a daily basis. Adult day care offers more focused monitoring of the seniors physical, mental and emotional well being, on a day-to-day basis. So, if your family member has sufficient impairment to cause you concern, adult day care is the better choice. .

What Type of Training Does the Staff at Adult Day Care Have?

What Type of Training Does the Staff at Adult Day Care Have

The rules regarding adult day care centers vary from state to state. They requirements also vary depending on whether the center is a health-focused facility or a socially focused facility.

The staff at an adult day care center usually consists of a director of the facility, activities director, and various assistants. Medical training and experience in health administration are often a part of these individuals’ backgrounds. Training and experience in providing memory care is required for facilities that support seniors with various types of dementia. Other staff may have food service training, home health training or other types of personal care experience to serve the clientele.

If the center offers health services, a trained nurse and licensed therapists will also be on staff. A licensed social worker may also be a part of the facility staff.

Memory Care Is a Special Category of Care

A senior that has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia needs specialized services. They may need help with personal care or with taking their scheduled medications. Individuals with dementia may have other issues, such as incontinence, speech problems, hallucinations, may wander off or have sexually inappropriate behavior. You should always determine if the adult day care has the training and experience to care for seniors with these issues.

What’s the Difference Between Adult Day Care and Respite Care?

Adult day care centers operate only with certain hours or days. Respite care can provide caregiving for an elder on a 24/7 basis.

The type of respite care provided varies with the needs of the elder. Some seniors may need medical care during the period and may need a nursing home facility. Other seniors may need the services provided by an assisted living center. Seniors that prefer to stay in their homes may best benefit from home care and be served by a professional home care aide that can stay with them around the clock, in order to allow the primary caregiver vacation time or other time away from caregiving duties. Adult day care would only be suitable for allowing the caregiver time away from duties for typical work hours, although some adult day centers may offer evening and weekend hours.

What are the Advantages of Adult Day Care For Seniors?

What are the Advantages of Adult Day Care For Seniors

Adult day care can offer a number of physical, mental and psychological benefits for seniors:

  • Getting out of the house and among other people can offer mental stimulation and social interaction that is critical to seniors mental function and emotional well being.
  • Adult day care can offer help with medication management and health ` screenings that improve physical well being.
  • Art, music, crafts and other activities help to improve brain function and emotional well being.
  • Adult day care offers seniors a measure of independence that improves the individual’s self-image.
  • Provides structure and activities during the day that can help to improve sleep patterns at night.
  • Disadvantages of Adult Day Care For Seniors
    However, adult day care is not without certain disadvantages, which should be considered when determining whether it is a good choice for a senior family member:
  • An adult day care center may not be open during your work hours or other hours you need.
  • Not all adult day care centers are well run and may have staffing shortages, limited activities or other problems.
  • Transportation may not be available or may not be available at the times needed.
  • Adult day care is generally not covered by Medicare and may not be affordable.
  • The group setting is not suitable for all individuals, and a one-to-one relationship with a home health aide may be a better fit for some seniors.

What Services Are Included in Adult Day Care?

Adult day care services are usually categorized as either a health facility or social facility.

  • Those that center on health generally offer blood pressure screenings, health education, medication management and therapy options.
  • The center may offer education on self care, occupational therapy for daily living and other practical skills that help seniors to live healthier, more independent lives.
  • Adult day care centers that focus on social interaction generally offer activities that encourage group participation. Games, music, exercise, art projects and crafts encourage seniors to learn and work together, as well as to stimulate thought and conversation.
  • Not all activities will appeal to every senior client, so alternative activities may be available that will appeal to the senior if they decide not to participate in a particular offering.

What Services Are Not Included in Adult Day Care?

  • Adult day care centers are not intended to provide intensive medical supervision for seniors who need it.
  • They cannot take clients to doctor appointments or other scheduled care.
  • Seniors that have severe disabilities that keep them homebound cannot be accommodated appropriately in adult day care settings.
  • Facilities also cannot provide behavioral counseling that may be needed for seniors with specific needs.

Choosing the Right Day Care Facility

How to Choose the Right Day Care Facility

Most communities across the United States offer some type of adult day care facility. They may be associated with a hospital or other health institution. In some cases, the facility may be associated with a church or religious organization. Some adult care centers are linked to other types of senior care facilities.

Make an appointment to visit the facility in advance of your elder coming to the center. You will be able to look around and get a general feel for the atmosphere of the place. Pay attention to the clients that are there.

  • Are they engaged in what’s going on and appear to be enjoying the experience?
  • Is there sufficient staff to take care of the number of seniors there?
  • Is the director of the facility willing to provide information you need?
  • Are they interested in learning what your elder family member requires?

The answer to these questions can tell you if the facility is suitable. Sometimes, a referral from a physician, neighbor or family member is the best way to find a suitable adult day care center for your family member.

What Are the Common Signs of A Good Adult Day Care Facility?

  • A good adult day care center will be well-lit and well organized, with a structured intake procedure and reliable security measures that protect seniors during their stay.
  • The staff should be 1-to-6 ratio, with training suitable for the services and activities provided.
  • The atmosphere should be cheerful and positive. Seniors should be allowed their own preferences, but encouraged to participate in group activities.
  • There should be a method for recording and handling the specific needs of the individual, when indicated to ensure their comfort, health or safety.
  • Staff should be friendly and responsive, and they should demonstrate experience in interacting with older individuals.

What Are the Signs of An Inadequate Adult Day Care Facility?

  • A facility with problems will have a chaotic, disorganized feel.
  • You may notice seniors sitting in chairs by themselves, unengaged in any activities.
  • You may notice insufficient staffing that leaves some seniors underserved.
  • The cleanliness of the facility may be inadequate.
  • Entry and exit areas may not be properly secured.
  • Intake and outtake of clients may be too casual. Staff may seem unfriendly or disinterested.

Questions You Should Ask When Considering An Adult Day Care Center

Questions You Should Ask When Considering An Adult Day Care Center

You may have a number of questions about the facility you are considering.

  • Are they open during the hours your senior will need care?
  • Do they provide transportation, if needed?
  • What is the ratio of staff to senior clients?
  • Is the staff trained and qualified?
  • Are therapy services available?
  • Are meals provided during the day?
  • Do they help administer medications?
  • Can they provide memory care for seniors with impairment?
  • What security is provided while seniors are on premises?
  • What entertainments, exercise or classes do they offer?
  • Is the facility licensed?
  • What is the protocol for handling a medical emergency at the facility?

What Other Options Are Available Besides Adult Day Care?

Adult day care is only one of the options that are available to help care for seniors when they reach the time when they need help with daily care and activities.

For seniors who wish to stay in their own homes or the home of a family member, home care may be a good choice for medication supervision, meal planning, light housekeeping, transportation to doctor appointments, companionship and other services.

Final Thoughts

Older adult care isn’t a “one size fits all” proposition. While one type of care can be the perfect option for some seniors, it may not be adequate or appropriate for others. Healthcare professionals can help families do a thorough evaluation of the senior’s needs and can advise you on whether adult day care will most benefit them, in terms of health, safety and quality of life.


1. Adult Day Services Center Participant Characteristics: United States, 2018 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

2. National Adult Day Services Association

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