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Published: Jan 12, 2024 9 min read

Adult day care is an outpatient service designed to provide therapeutic activities and specialized care in a safe setting for adults who require support during the day. These care centers encourage guests to participate in activities meant to strengthen physical and mental functions while fostering social interaction among peers.

There are also centers that offer more specialized care and attention for individuals diagnosed with serious impairments or cognitive diseases such as dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Read on to learn more about what adult day care is, the types of centers available and what specific services they provide.

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What is adult day care?

Adult day care programs differ from other services by catering to individuals with disabilities or health conditions that require more hands-on care. Additionally, these programs provide family members or caretakers time to rest from caregiving responsibilities while their loved ones receive proper care.

Types of adult day care

Not all adult day care centers offer the same services and benefits. While some facilities focus on fun daily activities, games and outings to encourage socialization, others specialize in providing more targeted care to assist adults in injury recovery or managing chronic illnesses.

There are three main types of adult day care. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Adult social day care centers create a social and fun environment where moderately active adults can engage in activities such as arts, music, games, entertainment, exercises, group outings and celebrations. Social care centers may also provide healthy snacks and meals, along with health screenings, support groups and transportation to and from the location.
  • Adult day health care centers (ADHC) provide services for adults with disabling conditions or those who need hands-on care. These centers employ registered nurses and other qualified healthcare professionals to provide therapeutic services including physical or speech therapy.
  • Specialized adult day care centers cater to adults diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Often referred to as “memory centers,” these facilities employ health professionals trained to prepare and oversee cognitive stimulation activities for their patients.

Services provided by adult day care centers

Adult day care centers are not just places where adults can socialize and take part in activities. These centers offer a range of services, including transportation and meals for clients and valuable support for family caregivers.

  • Social activities - Centers organize activities geared toward the participant's needs and abilities. Activities include group outings, celebrations or arts and crafts aimed at stretching their social and creative muscles. Social activities can also involve playing games like Scrabble or participating in group discussions about movies, books or recent events. Regardless of the activity, the goal is to provide a space for adults to interact with others and stay active.
  • Health services - Adult day care services include health monitoring, administering medications or conducting routine blood, hearing and vision screenings. More specialized care facilities also offer rehabilitation services or therapies to help manage long-term conditions.
  • Personal care - Services also include assistance with daily activities such as using the bathroom and bathing, as well as hair styling, nail trimming, shaving and routine skin care.
  • Meals - Besides helping adults with eating, these facilities also prepare and provide nutritious meals and snacks to meet the specific dietary requirements of participants.
  • Transportation - Some centers provide transportation for group outings, while others may provide transportation services to and from the facility.
  • Support for caregivers - The advantages of adult day care extend to caregivers as well, with services that include counseling, education, support groups and care planning.
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How much does adult day care cost?

The cost of adult day care varies by location and depends on the care options, services and activities offered.

According to a survey conducted by Genworth, a life and long-term care insurance provider, the average daily cost of adult care is $78 (or around $1,690 a month). However, daily costs can range between $25 and $100 a day, with more high-end facilities charging upwards of $125.

Does insurance cover adult day care?

Private health insurance plans typically don’t cover adult day care because these services extend beyond health care.

While Medicare covers some services offered by day care providers, like physical therapy, it doesn’t cover care center fees. Medicaid is an option (see more below), but coverage eligibility will depend on your income.

For those who don't qualify for Medicaid, long-term care insurance may be an option. These plans generally cover adult day care services as well as the costs of home care, nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

How to pay for adult day care

There are multiple payment options for adult day care services.

One is to pay out-of-pocket. Many families use personal funds, such as savings or retirement accounts, to cover the costs of care. While this method provides autonomy, allowing individuals to choose the center and services they want, it relies on the person already having the funds to pay for care.

As the cost of care can be steep and not everyone has the luxury of paying out-of-pocket, here are other options:

  • Medicaid - State and federal Medicaid programs provide waivers to help low-income individuals who need nursing care while residing at home. These waivers are meant to assist eligible individuals in covering adult daycare center fees and care expenses. However, it’s worth noting that Medicaid waivers often have waitlists due to enrollment caps.
  • Long-term care insurance - As mentioned above, long-term care insurance providers offer policies that cover care at home as well as in institutional settings.
  • Veterans benefits - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has an Adult Day Health Care program for veterans who need help with daily activities. The VA also has aid and attendance benefits that provide an additional allowance to help housebound veterans and their families pay for care.
  • Federal Tax Credit - The Child and Dependent Care Credit helps individuals and families offset childcare or dependent care expenses, making it easier for them to work, attend school or look for a job.

How to find a good adult day care center

You can start your search by asking your primary care physician or a local gerontologist for recommendations.

Another way to find senior centers is by reaching out to the National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA), which not only provides an eldercare locator, but also serves as a good source of information on a range of adult day services and caregiver support.

When searching for a center, make sure the one you choose offers the medical care your loved one needs along with engaging activities, a social environment and nutritious meals.

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Summary of What Is Adult Day Care?

Adult day care services cater to individuals who require assistance or supervision during the day. These centers typically offer a range of services such as meals, recreational activities and support with daily living tasks.

Adult day care centers don't just benefit the individuals attending. They offer relief and support to caregivers, enabling them to manage work or personal responsibilities while ensuring their loved ones receive proper care.

Consider adult day care if you or a dependent experience a decline in quality of life due to an increasing need for care, support or a structured social environment during daytime hours.

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