Our seniors may be getting older, but that doesn’t mean their lives should be devoid of meaning, socialization, and (dare we say it?) fun. While most family caregivers can agree that seniors’ days should be filled with rewarding experiences, providing those experiences isn’t always easy. This is especially true if you’re working full-time and juggling other family commitments – like getting to your kid’s high school soccer game or spending some quality time with your spouse. But your senior’s well-being is important too, so how do you give them the care and attention they need during daytime hours?
One enticing solution is adult day care. SeniorsMatter created this guide to tell you more about adult day care services, how they can help your senior, and how to locate reputable, affordable service providers near you. You should also visit our Resource Hub, a directory offering local listings and reviews of adult day care agencies in your area. You’ll find providers for a wide variety of other senior care services in our directory as well.
Adult day care – a safe and engaging environment for older adults
What is adult day care?
Adult day care is also known as “adult day programs,” “elder day care, ” and “senior day care.” When you hear this phrase for the first time, you might assume that adult day care is very similar to child day care. The two are similar in name, but elder day care is unique in a number of different ways.
When a senior attends an adult day care center, they will have the opportunity to socialize, exercise, receive medical treatment, eat meals with other seniors, and much more. The most important thing to remember about adult day care is that your senior will be closely supervised at all times. At the end of the day, the senior returns to their residence and enjoys all the benefits of home life.
Is adult day care a viable alternative to in-home care or assisted living?
In many ways, adult day care provides seniors with the best of both worlds. On one hand, they enjoy increased socialization and health services that typically come with a full-time stay at a long-term care facility. On the other hand, they still enjoy the sense of independence, familiarity, and comfort that come with living at home. This is one of the many reasons adult day care is soaring in popularity, with a 35% increase in service centers since 2002.
Many adult day care centers cater to seniors with particular needs. For example, some focus more on engaging social activities for seniors. These are often local senior centers with options for added transportation and meal services. Other senior day care centers offer specialized services for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s. There are even day cares that offer innovative health care services, such as speech therapy or music therapy.
When is adult day care available?
Senior day care often takes place from the early morning to the evening hours. This helps give family caregivers the chance to work or run errands. With that being said, there are adult day centers with flexible hours, and some offer service over the weekend as well.
Why would a senior need adult day care?
According to the CDC, about 7% of people over 65 need help with personal care, and adult day care can provide that help while a primary caregiver is working or taking care of other responsibilities. While adult day care can be an excellent solution for a wide range of different seniors, there are some elder loved ones who may benefit from this service more than others.
For example, if your senior is bored or disconnected and you’re struggling to keep them happy and engaged, adult day care programs offer plenty of opportunities to socialize and be active: daily activities, games, entertainment, and even outings to attend events or go shopping.
Older adults dealing with various medical conditions also benefit from adult day care. Staff provide health services throughout the day while also helping seniors enjoy themselves in a social environment. As an informal caregiver, it can be difficult for you to provide everything a senior needs physically and emotionally. At an adult day care, a professional staff attends to these needs.
What are some signs that indicate I should seek out adult day care services?
Senior day care is a solid choice when family caregivers are unavailable during the day, but what about your senior? Do they really need adult day care? Is this really the best care option for them?
You might want to consider adult day care if your senior is having trouble taking care of themselves for any reason. This could be due to advanced age, medical conditions, memory problems, or mental health issues. If a senior seems to be spending long periods alone without any real structure or activity, they may need help. Seniors often become bored – or worse, lonely – especially if they are living alone. If you notice that your loved one seems to have lost the motivation to plan out their days and engage in activities on their own, it might be time to consider adult day care.
Of course, seniors aren’t the only ones who benefit from adult day care services. This solution also provides caregivers with much-needed relief, allowing them to focus on work during the day, spend time with other family members, or simply rest. Caregiver burnout is a real issue, and you run the risk of your own mental health problems if you try to handle all of your senior’s care by yourself.
Questions to ask yourself as you consider adult day care
If you’re still not sure whether adult day care is the right choice for you and your senior loved one, you might want to ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your loved one capable of cooking their own meals?
- Are they eating enough, and are those meals healthy?
- Are you noticing that their home is getting messy?
- Can your loved one do their laundry without assistance?
- Are they struggling with basic personal care (dressing, washing, etc.)?
- Are your senior’s pets being neglected?
- Are they losing touch with their friends and neighbors?
- Can your senior maintain a normal, free-flowing conversation?
- Do they seem despondent or pessimistic about the future?
- Are they able to go shopping?
- Can they walk without assistance?
- Can they still drive?
- Are they able to take their medication at the right times and with the right dosages?
- Are they struggling with their short-term memory?
If your answers to these questions indicate that the senior in your life is struggling to care for themselves adequately, adult day care could be a viable option.
What services do adult day care centers provide?
Each adult day care center is different, and a wide range of services is possible. Let’s explore some of the common services associated with adult day care facilities.
Adult day care centers provide transportation
Your first question might be “How am I going to get my senior to adult day care?” While you could always drive them to the care center yourself, the majority of facilities offer round-trip transportation. Even most senior centers that offer an adult day care option provide transportation to and from their facility. You can head straight to work in the morning confident that the senior will get to their day care center safely.
Think of this like a school bus for seniors. The transport vehicle adheres to a strict schedule, and it will arrive at your family member’s home at the same time each morning. When the day care program is over for the day, the transport vehicle will drop your senior back at home safe and sound.
Many facilities also utilize their transport services to help senior attendees make it to appointments and for fun outings.
Adult day care centers provide nutritious, delicious meals
Starting with the basics, your senior will be treated to regular, nutritious meals throughout the day. Healthy eating is a major aspect of overall health, and you may notice improvements in your senior’s overall mood after they boost their diet with meals provided by adult day care centers. This is especially relevant if your senior has lost the ability to cook for themselves and has resorted to eating prepackaged, processed foods with little nutritional value.
A meal at an adult day care center is also a shared experience with the added benefit of social interaction between seniors. This structured activity helps your senior build relationships and enjoy pleasant conversation while dining. Studies have shown that people are more likely to eat larger portions when eating in groups, helping your senior get more nutrition if they struggle with their appetite.
Adult day care provides additional senior care services
During your senior’s stay at an adult day care center, their well-being will be closely monitored by trained professionals. This means that whenever they need something, they can ask for help and quickly receive assistance. In fact, the response times at a senior day care center can be a good indicator of the quality of care provided.
Your senior may also receive assistance with basic personal care tasks, such as grooming, toileting, bathing, and dressing.
Senior day care provides access to specialized medical care
Many adult day care centers are specifically geared towards providing a range of medical care throughout the day to those seniors who need it. Your senior may engage in physical therapy to address chronic injuries, stiff joints, and similar issues. Other health services include the administration of medication, blood pressure monitoring, and much more.
An adult day care center may also cater to your senior’s mental health and mental fitness needs. Counseling sessions may be available, and this can be highly beneficial for seniors who are dealing with anxiety, grief, depression, or loneliness in old age. For those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, a day care center offering memory care services would be appropriate.
Your senior may also participate in other forms of therapy. For example, music therapy is proving to be quite promising for elderly individuals – especially those with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
It’s worth mentioning that some adult day care centers focus primarily on socialization and other daily activities, so the health care services on offer are more limited. You’ll need to assess your senior’s needs and choose the right type of adult day care center based on their unique circumstances.
Questions about adult day care
What types of daily activities are available at adult day care centers?
Between meals and personal care assistance, seniors have the chance to participate in a range of engaging social activities. These activities vary depending on the day care center, but here are some popular choices:
- Arts and crafts
- Musical entertainment
- Stretching and yoga
- Discussion groups
- Birthday and holiday celebrations
- Field trips
- Physical games (bocce ball, lawn bowling, croquet, shuffleboard, etc.)
- Group cooking
- Book club
- Board games, cards, and puzzles
- Pet therapy
Of course, some seniors prefer to simply converse with friends, and there is no obligation to participate in any of these activities if they prefer to do their own thing.
Is adult day care safe?
Caregivers are very protective of their elder loved one’s well-being, and the reservations about putting them into outsourced care are understandable. It’s estimated that one of every ten adults over the age of 60 has experienced some form of elder abuse. That’s why it makes sense to thoroughly assess security and safety policies before choosing your adult day care provider.
To ease your concerns, you should know that adult day care centers must adhere to strict regulations and safety standards set by state and federal governments. Adult day care centers are regularly inspected and assessed by independent, unbiased government employees. If safety or security issues are identified, the entire day care center may be shut down until the problem is fixed.
When researching an area agency, it’s always a good sign when they have been in operation for numerous years without any issues. Check their history and reviews.
What staff roles do adult day care centers have?
Adult day centers employ a number of highly trained professionals, including:
- Registered nurses
- Certified nursing assistants
- Social workers
- Dietary consultants
With these trained professionals ready at a moment’s notice, physical and mental health emergencies can be dealt with swiftly and efficiently.
Senior day care centers also frequently employ additional helpful staff, such as activity coordinators and physical therapists.
Additionally, many facilities allow volunteers to provide basic support during meals and activity time. Volunteers can be a great asset to improve response times and make activities more enjoyable, but you’ll want to make sure any area agency you’re considering utilizes them appropriately. There are some questions to ask providers below that will help you do that.
Are there adult day care services for seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s?
Some adult day care centers are specifically geared towards those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The health services and medical care in these facilities are highly specialized. They provide treatments such as memory care to help with memory function and other related concerns.
In order to adhere to safety regulations and maintain their licenses, these facilities must also offer a number of specialized features for seniors, including:
- Safety rails in corridors and along walls
- Disabled-friendly bathrooms
- Adequate medical supplies
- Non-slip floors
- Adequate lighting
It’s very important to keep a close eye on elderly individuals who suffer from dementia, Alzheimer’s, and similar memory issues. To prevent seniors from wandering off or getting lost, these adult day care centers rely on regular attendance protocols including sign-in sheets, check-in stations, and more. Departures and arrivals are carefully recorded every day.
Emotional safety is another important priority for any day care center, but this is especially true for those with attendees who have dementia. Staff members are trained to treat seniors with respect, care, and dignity at all times. They are also trained in conflict-resolution techniques to deal with arguments and aggressive outbursts.
What questions should I ask adult day care providers?
To assess the safety and security of a potential senior day care center in your area, you may want to ask staff members the following questions:
- What is the predetermined response plan for medical emergencies?
- How does the day care center cater to seniors with unique impairments and physical ailments?
- What strategies are in place for assisting seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s?
- How does the day care center assess each senior’s unique needs and priorities?
- What specific medical qualifications do staff members possess?
- How do you ensure safety during physical activities?
- Are volunteers required to submit to a background check?
- Are volunteers always under the direct supervision of a trained staff member?
- How long has the day care center been in operation?
- What licenses or certifications does the day care center hold?
- Are there any notable complaints or citations in the past five years?
- What is the ratio of staff members to senior attendees?
- What is the average response time for help requests?
- What kind of sanitization and disinfection protocols are in place?
Talking about adult day care
It’s always a good idea to communicate directly with your senior loved one about the possibility of adult day care. Your senior may be complaining about boredom or loneliness, providing you with obvious clues that some kind of solution is necessary. You can also initiate the conversation if you feel like their mental health is at risk. Although it can be difficult for seniors to talk about depression and anxiety, these conversations help you determine the best possible solutions for their unique needs.
Ideally, the entire family should play a role in the decision-making process. There are many family members who may want to have a say in what happens to an elder loved one – even if you’re the primary caregiver. This can lead to opposing points of view, so it’s important to discuss this matter in a careful, considerate, and organized manner.
How to talk to family members about adult day care services
First, you’ll want to make sure everyone has a chance to provide their opinion. This means coordinating with family members and determining the best time for a group meeting based on everyone’s schedules. If this proves unrealistic, you can always have family members join the conversation via video chat.
Keep in mind that some individuals may believe that adult day care is not necessary. You might have to go over some of the worrisome issues you’ve noticed with your elder loved one, such as boredom, loneliness, poor personal hygiene, and so on.
Some might be concerned about the financial burden of adult day care, so be prepared to talk about the expense of other care options (like long-term care facilities and in-home care) and the potential of Medicare coverage to offset costs.
How to approach the topic of adult day care with your senior
While you may think that adult day care is the best possible choice for your loved one, they might have an entirely different point of view. We all know that people can be a little stubborn about change, and you’ll need to approach this topic carefully and considerately if you want to convince them to attend adult day care.
As a general rule, it’s always a good idea to start the conversation early. Don’t wait until your senior has trouble listening or maintaining a conversation. Memory issues and other cognitive issues can make it even more difficult to explain the benefits of adult day care.
When you do choose to discuss the possibility of adult day care, make sure you’re communicating in a face-to-face manner. Sit down with your senior loved one in a familiar environment, and avoid talking on the phone or by text.
It’s very important to listen during this discussion. Give your senior the chance to speak and be heard, and respond to their concerns. Try not to give them orders or ultimatums. In order for this to work optimally, your senior should feel like adult day care is their choice.
Questions to help a senior consider adult day care services
- Would you like to spend more time with other people your age?
- Do you feel like you need some extra help with day-to-day tasks?
- Are you feeling bored at home?
- What are some games and activities you miss?
- Would you like someone to provide meals for you?
- Do you need some extra help taking your medication on time?
If your senior agrees with any of these, you can broach the topic of adult day care as a potential solution.
There’s no time like the present to have “the talk”
If discussing adult day care with your older loved one seems a little daunting, don’t be afraid to include a trusted family member or a mutual friend. You might even bring along a pastor or a family doctor.
It’s important to avoid distractions during this crucial conversation. Turn off the TV and avoid your phone. Make sure your loved one knows that your concern stems from your love for them and desire to help.
Paying for adult day care
How much does adult day care cost?
One thing’s for sure: adult day care is often much more affordable than in-home care, which involves a caregiver traveling to your senior’s residence to prepare meals, administer medication, and much more. Instead of hiring a single individual, adult day care spreads out the costs and provides these same benefits in a group setting. This increases both affordability and socialization opportunities.
Other care options include assisted living or nursing homes. But these choices are also much more expensive since they involve long-term care around the clock. Your senior lives at these long-term care facilities, which means additional costs have to be taken into account for private rooms, laundry, extra meals, and much more.
Adult day care: a more affordable solution
Adult day care is an affordable option that gives seniors the best of everything: social interaction, health care, and the ability to return home to a familiar environment. In fact, affordability is one of the key benefits of adult day care.
That being said, costs may vary depending on the specific adult day care center in question. Day cares like those run by community senior centers, which focus mainly on social activities, may be more affordable than those that focus more on medical treatment.
Can I get help paying for adult day care?
If you need help paying for adult day care, there are a number of resources available. It’s worth your time to investigate any state- or city-specific resources that may be available to your senior as well. Here are a couple of potential options:
- Veterans Benefits
If your senior is a veteran, Veterans Benefits may provide monthly cash benefits that you can use to pay for adult day care. In addition, there are VA-run adult day care centers that your senior can attend free of charge.
- Medicaid and Medicare
Medicaid is another possible source of funding, and this can be helpful if your senior has limited income and no assets to their name. Medicaid and Medicare also sponsor the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) in some states.
Medicare Part C plans also provide limited coverage for adult day care. Keep in mind that Part C (also known as Medicare Advantage) is not the same as most Medicare Part A or Part B plans. You might want to check out your senior’s health care policy and determine how much coverage they have for adult day care. It could be more than you think.
How can I find adult day care services?
If you’d like to explore your options for adult day care, SeniorsMatter is here to help. Our Resource Hub includes a range of area agencies offering adult day care services, allowing you to choose the best service provider based on your senior’s unique needs. Get started today and experience adult day care’s full range of benefits.