What Is Adult Daycare?

Being a member of the “sandwich generation” places you with responsibilities for your own children as well as your elder parents or loved ones. You want the best for both of them, but in many cases, you can’t take care of all of them.

If you are looking for a rather economical place for your elder parent or loved one that meets their needs of independence, yet gives you the flexibility to continue your daily routines such as keeping your job, taking care of your own necessary activities, or simply giving more time to take care of your kids, adult day care may be the answer.

Senior day care centers provide a safe setting for adults during the day with the advantage of other services such as access to medical care, social activities, and meals.

How To Know If Senior Daycare Is Right For Your Family

For seniors are outgoing and love social activities but need some assistance during the day with activities of daily living, going to a senior day care program could be ideal. Still, you’d be surprised how much a shy parent could enjoy a senior day care center, with the right staff and programs. In addition, besides offering your elder parent or loved one a more social experience, some daycare centers can offer even more:


Types of Senior Daycare Settings:

  • Social—Social adult day care programs offer adults programs that stress socializing, with less emphasis on health-related services.
  • Medical—For those needing more health-related services, these programs provide the staff and equipment needed such as physical therapy or counseling.
  • Specialized—Participants such as those with Alzheimer’s may need a program specialized in their aid.

What are the Benefits of Adult Day Services?

Safety and Security

Wandering and memory deficits make for dangerous situations to leave your loved ones with cognitive problems at home. Sometimes these problems come and go, making it seem ok for the caregiver to leave for work or shopping, but still with the anxiety that these conditions could suddenly come back.

Specialized adult daycare centers offer security features to prevent wandering. Sometimes they have more staff to help meet the extra needs of these seniors.

Social and other Activities

Specialized adult day centers can offer activities for your loved one which can be adapted to their individual abilities. People with dementia can benefit highly from socialized activities such as card games, crafts, exercise, dancing, and cooking. Other social events usually include holiday and birthday celebrations.

Additional Personal Hygiene and Health Care Services

Adult day cares can’t take the place of nursing homes. However, like homecare services, they still can assist with normal activities of daily living, such as toileting and incontinence care. Some programs also offer medication management and even occupational and physical therapy. Some can coordinate the care between physicians and other care providers. Such places can assist you in making this determination as to the level of care they need, however.

In Summary, the Pros of Adult Daycare:
  • Provide a safe environment for your parent, which helps you take your mind off of probably your biggest worry.
  • Meals
  • Socializing with other adults
  • Personal care (assistance with activities of daily living)
  • Medication management and
  • Exercise

Some centers may provide additional services, such as:

  • Transportation to and from the facility
  • Counseling
  • Outings
  • Computer classes, memory training or other classes
What are the Cons of Adult Daycare:
  1. It is possible that your elder parents may get sick more often. Cleanliness isn’t the usual problem; most adult daycare places are quite clean. However, getting the flu, pneumonia, or the common cold is easier in any public place vs staying home. Frequent hand washing is a solution. Wearing masks may decrease the risk by 70%, but it is not in our culture to wear masks around the clock, especially among friends. Getting a flu shot and Pneumovax is very important if your elder parents are to be in adult daycare.
  2. Expenses: On average, an adult daycare runs about $70 a day. This sounds reasonable, but at 5 days x 4 weeks, that’s about $1400 a month, $2800 for two parents. With two parents, the price is in the range of what you’d expect to pay for assisted living or home health care. Medicare usually does not cover adult day care, but in some cases, the Veterans Administration or Medicaid may pay. In addition, consult your tax professional first, but expenses could be tax deductible. And like child daycare, count on late fees being an irksome charge when you are stuck in traffic, and even early drop-off fees for that matter. There may also be surprise fees such as for craft supplies, fees for outings, etc. that you may not have counted on.
  3. And of course, problems that could actually be found in any institution:
  • Having underqualified or undertrained workers

  • Programs that do not provide the services your loved one needs.

  • Not being able to meet your elder parents’ dietary needs.

  • The industry may not be well regulated in your state

Adult Daycare Options, Perks, and Prices

Adult Daycare and Dementia

You would think that dementia and Alzheimer’s disease would make adult daycare too complicated for your loved one. Still, if you are a caregiver for your elder parents or relative, there are times when you need a break to take care of basic things. There is one solution: adult day care programs that provide specialized services for such seniors. 

Determining if a Senior Might Benefit from Adult Day Services

It’s hard to determine who could benefit from adult day services, and how often they would require going there (daily, twice a week etc.). That is, would part-time visits benefit your parent, who is more introverted, than others? How advanced is their dementia? Would they become very confused? Would a new environment lead to negative emotions? Keep in mind that sometimes it takes time to get into a new routine, something that many seniors with cognitive decline depend on.

How to pick the right Adult daycare center

You can talk to an adult day care referral specialist. Or if you prefer to take a tour of several daycare facilities in your area. Things to look for could include:

  • The cleanliness of the facility
  • A calendar of events for the participants
  • A typical day schedule
  • How often bathroom breaks are given
  • Staff to client ratio
  • How medications are handled
  • Do the staff have background checks
  • Are the staff trained for any specialized needs such as Alzheimer’s
Respite Care

Sometimes you might not need to have your loved one full time in a daycare facility except for a needed break. In the elder care business, they call this “respite” or time off for the caregiver. This could be done on a part-time basis, or just occasionally. Respite workers would give your loved ones monitoring and companionship. They could also prepare meals, provide activities of daily living such as bathing or toileting, or medication administration.

How to pay for Adult Daycare

As we said, adult day care averages about $70 daily, or $1400 a month.

Because Medicare and even Medicare Advantage (part c) typically don’t cover the cost of senior daycare, much of the cost may have to come from savings.   Medicaid, however, may cover a portion of your parents or loved ones are eligible. Ask the program if they offer any direct financial assistance as well. Some programs allow for sliding scale payments depending on your elder parent’s or loved one’s income.

Consider insurance and other sources to pay for Adult Daycare

Your elder parents or loved ones may have long-term care insurance which may cover some costs as well. They could also consider using the cash value of any life insurance policy they may have. Reverse mortgages could be another possible source and are getting more popular. But please make sure you and/or your elder parents know all the pros and cons.

PACE, the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly

PACE is a comprehensive national program for adults 55 and older who meet the criteria for nursing facility placement, prefer to stay at home and have an assessment indicating that living at home with the support of the PACE program is a safe alternative. About thirty states have PACE programs to date.  The average PACE participant is 76 years old.

Services include medical care, nursing, physical therapy pharmaceuticals, day health center services, home care, health-related transportation to name a few.

To find out if a PACE program is nearby your elder parent or loved one, find out here: