Aug 22, 2023

What is adult day care?

Manny Cominsky

Adult day care centers provide vital daytime care services for seniors who may require assistance and companionship during the day, but who do not yet want to move to a senior living facility full time. Through a blend of professional care, engaging activities, and a nurturing environment, adult day care centers ensure that older adults receive the attention and care that they deserve while fostering a sense of community and purpose that help promote senior well-being. To learn more about adult day care centers, read our comprehensive guide below or reach out to the Sunbound team for more information

What is Adult Day Care?

Adult day care is a structured program that offers activities, supervision, and care for older adults who require assistance or supervision during the day. It provides a safe and supportive environment for seniors while allowing family caregivers to have peace of mind and take a break from their caregiving responsibilities. Adult day care centers may operate independently or be located within senior centers, nursing facilities, hospitals, or schools.

Types of Adult Day Care Centers

There are different types of adult day care centers, each offering different levels of care and services:

Social Day Care Centers: These centers focus on social activities, recreation, and companionship. They offer meals, mental stimulation games, arts and crafts, outings, and other activities designed to promote social interaction and engagement.

Health-Focused Day Care Centers: These centers provide comprehensive medical and therapeutic services in addition to social activities. They may offer services such as physical, occupational, or speech therapy, medication management, health screenings, and nursing care.

Specialized Day Care Centers: These centers cater to individuals with specific health conditions or disabilities, such as dementia or physical impairments. They provide specialized care and activities tailored to the unique needs of the participants.

Services Provided by Adult Day Care Centers

Adult day care centers offer a range of services to meet the diverse needs of their participants. These services may include:

Social Activities

One of the primary goals of adult day care is to provide socialization and engagement for seniors. Centers offer a variety of planned activities tailored to the abilities and interests of the participants. These activities may include arts and crafts, music, mental stimulation games, exercise classes, discussion groups, holiday celebrations, and local outings. Social interaction has been found to have an incredibly positive impact on senior wellbeing.

Nutrition and Meals

Adult day care centers provide nutritious meals and snacks to participants. These meals are often designed to accommodate special dietary needs, such as low-sodium or diabetic-friendly options. Sharing meals together fosters a sense of community and provides an opportunity for social interaction.

Personal Care Assistance

Center staff can assist participants with activities of daily living, such as grooming, toileting, walking, and feeding. They ensure that seniors receive the necessary personal care and support to maintain their dignity and independence.

Health Services

The level of health services offered may vary depending on the type of adult day care center. Some centers provide basic health monitoring, such as blood pressure checks and medication reminders. Others offer more advanced services, including medication administration, symptom management, and coordination with medical professionals.


Many adult day care centers provide transportation services to and from the center. This ensures that participants who may have difficulty traveling on their own can still access the care and activities offered by the center.

Caregiver Support Services

In addition to caring for seniors, adult day care centers also offer support services for family caregivers. These services may include counseling, support groups, educational programs, care planning assistance, and respite care. Caregivers can benefit from these resources to reduce stress, learn new caregiving techniques, and connect with others facing similar challenges.

Benefits of Adult Day Care

Adult day care offers numerous benefits for both seniors and their caregivers. Let's explore the advantages of enrolling in an adult day care program.

Benefits for Seniors

Socialization and Engagement: Adult day care provides opportunities for seniors to socialize, make new friends, and engage in meaningful activities. This social interaction can improve mental and emotional well-being, reduce loneliness and isolation, and enhance overall quality of life.

Mental Stimulation: Participating in activities and discussions at adult day care centers stimulates cognitive function and helps maintain mental sharpness. Mental stimulation can help prevent or delay cognitive decline and improve memory and cognitive abilities.

Physical Exercise: Many adult day care centers offer exercise programs tailored to the abilities of participants. Regular physical activity can improve strength, balance, and flexibility, reducing the risk of falls and promoting overall physical well-being.

Professional Care and Support: Adult day care centers have trained staff, including registered nurses, social workers, and caregivers with specialized training in dementia care or other health conditions. Participants receive professional care, medication management, and assistance with daily tasks, ensuring their health and safety.

Respite for Family Caregivers: By enrolling in adult day care, seniors provide their family caregivers with much-needed respite. Caregivers can focus on their own needs, work, or other responsibilities, knowing that their loved one is in a safe and supportive environment.

Benefits for Caregivers

Relief from Caregiving Duties: Adult day care centers offer caregivers a break from their caregiving responsibilities, reducing stress and burnout. This respite allows caregivers to recharge, maintain their own physical and mental health, and prevent caregiver fatigue.

Support and Education: Caregiver support services provided by adult day care centers include counseling, support groups, and educational programs. These resources help caregivers develop new skills, learn about available resources, and connect with others who understand their challenges.

Peace of Mind: Knowing that their loved one is in a safe and supervised environment provides caregivers with peace of mind. They can go about their day with confidence, knowing that their loved one is well-cared for and engaged in meaningful activities.

Considering Adult Day Care: Is it Right for You?

When considering adult day care for your senior loved one, it's important to assess their needs and the benefits the program can offer. Here are some signs that it may be time to consider adult day care:

Your loved one is unable to structure their daily activities.

They feel isolated and desire social interaction with peers.

They experience anxiety, depression, or other emotional challenges and could benefit from social and emotional support.

They have difficulty initiating and maintaining activities, such as conversation or hobbies.

They are not safe being alone and express uncertainty or anxiety about being on their own.

Factors to consider when evaluating adult day care include the services provided, the qualifications of the staff, the center's reputation and accreditation, and the overall atmosphere and environment. Assessing these factors will help you determine if a particular adult day care center is the right fit for your loved one.

Finding the Right Adult Day Care Center

Finding the right adult day care center is crucial to ensure the well-being and happiness of your senior loved one. Here are steps to help you find and evaluate adult day care centers:

Research and Evaluate Centers: Use online directories, such as the National Adult Day Services Association's searchable directory, or contact your local Area Agency on Aging for a list of adult day care centers in your area. Research each center's services, staff qualifications, and reputation.

Ask Questions: Contact the adult day care centers you are interested in and ask specific questions about their programs, staff-to-participant ratios, staff qualifications and training, emergency procedures, activities offered, transportation options, and any additional services they provide.

Visit the Adult Day Care Centers: Schedule visits to the adult day care centers that meet your criteria. Observe the center's cleanliness, the comfort of the facilities, and the interactions between staff and participants. Talk to staff, participants, and their families to gain insights into the center's atmosphere and quality of care.

Consider Your Senior Loved One's Needs: Assess whether the center's services, activities, and environment align with your loved one's needs and preferences. Look for centers that offer specialized care if your loved one has specific health conditions, such as dementia or physical impairments.

Trust Your Instincts: Pay attention to your gut feeling and the overall impression you get from each center. Trust your instincts and choose a center where you feel confident that your loved one will receive the care and support they need.

Adult Day Care Cost 

The cost of adult day care can vary depending on factors such as location, services provided, and the level of care required, although generally adult day care will cost roughly between $25 to $100 per day. It's essential to understand the cost considerations and explore available financial assistance options:

Factors Affecting Cost: Factors that can influence the cost of adult day care include the number of days attended per week, the number of hours per day, additional services required, and the geographic region.

Financial Assistance Options: While Medicare typically does not cover the cost of adult day care, financial assistance may be available through other government programs such as Medicaid, the Veterans Health Administration, and state agencies. Explore these options to determine if your loved one qualifies for financial support.

Making the Transition to Adult Day Care

The transition to adult day care can be challenging for both seniors and their caregivers, especially for those with dementia or other cognitive impairments. Here are some tips for a smooth transition:

Gradual Introduction: Introduce your senior loved one to the adult day care center gradually. Start with visits to the center for lunch or a specific activity. Gradually increase the frequency of visits over a month to allow them to acclimate to the new environment and routine.

Open Communication: Maintain open communication with the staff at the adult day care center. Share information about your loved one's preferences, needs, and any changes in their health or behavior. This collaboration will ensure a personalized and supportive experience for your loved one.

Adult day care offers a valuable solution for seniors who require supervision and assistance during the day, providing them with socialization, engagement, and professional care. It also offers respite for family caregivers, allowing them to take care of their own needs while ensuring their loved ones are in a safe and supportive environment. By understanding the services, benefits, and considerations associated with adult day care, you can make an informed decision and find the right adult day care center for your loved one's unique needs.

To learn more about how Sunbound can help make senior care more affordable for you or your loved one, send us an email at or request more information on Sunbound. Sunbound is the best way to pay for senior living and senior care and is on a mission to make senior living affordable for everyone.

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