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Caregiving: Adult Day Care Options

Find the best center for your health care needs

Getting older can be isolating. Outside programs at adult day care or senior centers can offer your parents a welcome social life and provide caregivers with a needed break — but don’t be surprised if your parent is reluctant to give it a try. It can be intimidating to make new connections and break into a new social group, especially if your loved one has grown accustomed to being alone.

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AARP Caregiving Resource Center tips how to find an adult day care facility- senior women playing cards

Adult day centers provide parents with the opportunity to meet new people. — Photo by age fotostock/Getty Images

Senior centers

If your parent is fairly independent, with no major physical or mental problem, a senior center might be a good place to connect with others, exercise or to take some classes. Most communities have a center, and facilities often provide transportation.

Adult day centers

For those with a need for more intensive care such as rehab, therapeutic activities, meals and counseling, research your local adult day programs, which are often affiliated with hospitals, nursing homes, religious organizations and nonprofits. It can be a less expensive option than hiring in-home care. To find adult day care programs, contact your local agency on aging or the Eldercare Locator.

Once you’ve found a few to visit, the National Institute on Adult Day Care recommends choosing a center that:

  • Assesses your parent’s abilities and needs before admission.
  • Offers a range of services, such as transportation, health screening, personal care, meals and counseling.
  • Provides an active, individualized program that meets your parent’s social, recreational and rehabilitative needs.
  • Refers clients to other community services for older adults.
  • Has well-trained, well-qualified staff and volunteers.
  • Follows existing state guidelines.
  • Conveys clear criteria for terminating services.

Keep in mind that the best adult centers may have waiting lists, so it’s smart to visit them before you have a critical need for the service.

Also of interest: How to cope with a caregiving crisis. »

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