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Adult Day Care Options

Find the best center for your health care needs

Caregiving, Adult Care Options, Card Game Playing, AARP

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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.

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, search using our Community Resource Finder, or contact your local Area Agency on Aging.

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.

The following checklist outlines what to look for and what to ask when visiting adult day centers:

  • Name of center
  • Address
  • Name of director
  • Contact information
  • Days and hours of operation
  • How long has the center been operating?
  • Do they accommodate people on a part-time basis?
  • Who sponsors/owns and manages the center?
  • Are other organizations involved in the operations/services?
  • Is the center licensed or certified by a state regulatory agency, where available?    

  • What are the age requirements (if any)?
  • Must participants live within a certain geographic area?
  • Can the center accommodate specific needs related to memory loss, limited mobility, toileting, special diets, etc.?
  • Does the center staff perform an assessment?
  • Does the participant’s doctor need to submit information?

The following is a list of services that may be provided by many adult day services centers. Not all centers provide all services so be sure to ask which are available.

  • Transportation to and from the center
  • Recreational programs
  • Art/music therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Exercise programs
  • Assistance with dressing/grooming/using the toilet
  • Laundry
  • Meals/snacks
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Health monitoring (blood pressure, blood sugar)
  • Medical assessment and treatment
  • Medication management
  • Social services
  • Special services related to a participant’s condition (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease)

  • What are the fees and what do the fees include (e.g., meals, transportation)?
  • What are the costs of those services/supplies not included in the daily fee?
  • What forms of payment are accepted?
  • Are any of the costs covered by Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance or other financial aid?
  • Is there a required deposit? If so, how much?
  • Who handles billing and applications with third-party payers such as long-term care insurers, VA, or Medicaid?

  • What are the qualifications and professional experience of the staff?
    • Do they hold degrees and licensure in their respective fields (nursing, social work, therapy)?
  • How many staff members are there for each program participant?
  • During your visit, do you see positive interaction between the staff and participants?
  • Are staff and volunteers screened and trained?

  • Is the physical environment safe and accessible for people with disabilities?
  • Are the restrooms conveniently located with grab bars and space for wheelchairs?
  • Does the facility meet local fire, sanitation and health codes?
  • Is there space for private conversations and small group activities?
  • Is the furniture sturdy, comfortable and well maintained?
  • Is there safe and comfortable outdoor space?
  • Is the center clean, free from odors and of sufficient size to accommodate all the participants and activities?
  • Do the participants seem engaged in activities?
  • Is it someplace that you would want to return to?

  • Does each participant have a plan of care based on his/her interests and needs?
  • Are participants involved in making decisions about center programs, schedules and menus?
  • Is there a center newsletter or website?
  • How does the center staff handle participant emergencies as well as facility-wide emergencies?
  • Under what circumstances would a participant be asked to leave the center? Will staff assist in finding a more suitable type of care?
  • Is the center accredited, for example, by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitative Facilities?

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