Page header image

Adult Day Care Programs

What are adult day care programs?

Adult day care programs provide care and supervision outside the home for adults with special needs. They offer a safe, secure place for older adults to spend the day. Programs provide activities and meals. Some offer healthcare and counseling, and some provide transportation to and from the center.

Adult day care can give breaks to family caregivers. This can be very helpful for caregivers who must work during the day. These programs also offer a way for people who live alone to spend some time with other people.

Who attends adult day care programs?

People who attend adult day care programs generally have some physical or mental challenge. Over half usually have some type of dementia (a loss of mental ability). Programs are often available to help people who have:

  • Alzheimer's disease or other dementia
  • Parkinson's disease
  • stroke
  • developmental disabilities
  • visual problems
  • mental illness.

What are the activities at an adult day care program?

Adult day care programs are available from 1 to 5 days a week. They are usually day-long but some may offer half-day programs.

Lunch and snacks are served daily. Some programs also serve breakfast. In some cases, day care program staff may be qualified to administer medicine to people who are unable to take it themselves.

Activities are scheduled throughout the day. They may include exercises, games, gardening, cooking, discussion groups, art, music, and trips. Some programs provide activities that involve children as well. Programs try to plan interesting activities for both men and women.

Medically based centers, or adult day healthcare centers, offer medical and rehab services. These services may include physical, occupational, or speech therapy as well as other health-related services.

What other services may be offered by adult day care programs?

Adult day care programs may offer any or all of the following:

  • extended hours, such as being open from 7 AM to 6 PM
  • overnight care
  • haircuts and other beauty shop services
  • personal care such as bathing, grooming, and foot care
  • medical checkups, blood pressure checks, exams by a nurse, and blood tests
  • transportation to and from the program or to medical appointments
  • support groups for family caregivers
  • support groups for people with Alzheimer's disease
  • educational sessions for family members.

How are adult day care programs regulated?

Regulation of adult day care programs varies from state to state. Some states do not have any regulations unless the program accepts people with Medicaid insurance. If state regulations are in place, the state usually has assigned this responsibility to the State Department of Health or the Department of Human Services. The National Council on Aging publishes suggested guidelines for programs to follow.

How much do adult day care programs cost?

Typical costs can range from $30 to $60 a day. The cost depends on the number of hours a person attends the program, outside funding sources for the program, and the services offered. Some day care centers charge on a sliding scale based on income. Others charge a set daily rate for everyone. There may be an extra charge for some services, such as foot care, haircuts, managing medicines, and transportation.

Medicare does not pay for day care. Insurance companies may pay for adult day care if a healthcare provider states that the person would otherwise need to live in a nursing facility. You may need to review your healthcare insurance policy to see if it will pay for adult day care. In some cases, Medicaid may help pay for the cost of day care.

How do I choose a day care program?

Choose an adult day care center that provides the proper level of care needed. A nurse and a social worker should be on the staff. There should be 1 caretaker for every 4 to 6 adults. The center should provide appropriate activities. Tour the center to ensure that it is clean and safe. Ask about staff credentials and certifications. After you choose an adult care center, plan visits on different days and at different times to be sure the level of care is what you expect.

Written by Carolyn Norrgard, RNC, BA, MEd, and Carol Matheis-Kraft, PhD, RNC, for RelayHealth.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2008-08-20
Last reviewed: 2010-10-22
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2011 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
Page footer image