Adult Daycare Centers: A Guide to Choosing the Right Service for Your Loved One

Article Summary

This article discusses the benefits of adult daycare for both older adults and their family caregivers, as well as the cost and availability of such services.

Key takeaways:

  1. Adult daycare can help improve quality of life for older adults and provide family caregivers with a much-needed break.
  2. Most people pay out-of-pocket for adult daycare costs, but Medicare and Medicaid may cover some of the costs.
  3. When looking for adult daycare, it is important to ask questions about the qualifications of the staff, the activities offered, and the availability of special needs services.

How can adult daycare help family caregivers?

Older adults who are unable to care for their daily needs on their own may go to adult daycare, which is also referred to as adult day services. More than half (52%) of people who go to adult daycare have some degree of cognitive impairment, according to the National Adult Day Services Association.

Being at home alone for long stretches of time may lead to feelings of isolation, anxiety or depression among older adults. Adult daycare programs may help to improve quality of life for your parent, since they’ll interact with other people and participate in a variety of activities that are geared to their abilities.

Adult daycare programs aren’t just beneficial for older adults; they’re helpful for family caregivers, too. Sending your parent to adult daycare may help to lower your stress levels, whether you work outside the home or stay home to care for your parent:

  • If you’re at home full-time, sending your parent to an adult daycare program helps you get a much-needed break in your day. You can shop, do chores around the house, exercise, meet a friend for lunch or do other forms of self-care without worrying about your parent’s well-being.
  • If you work full-time outside the home, dropping your parent off at an adult daycare program during your business hours allows you to focus on your job. You can feel confident that your parent is safe and being kept occupied while you’re working.

How much does adult daycare cost?

Most people pay out-of-pocket for adult daycare costs. The average monthly cost for adult daycare services is $1,690, according to the Genworth 2021 Cost of Care Survey.

Medicare does not cover adult daycare unless someone enrolls in the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), a joint program offered by Medicare and Medicaid. This program assists older adults with a financial need who would like to remain at home but would need to move to a long-term-care facility without assistance from the program. Adults who are on Medicaid won’t pay a monthly premium for this program. Adults with Medicare who don’t qualify for Medicaid but are enrolled in PACE will pay a monthly premium.

Medicaid may cover adult daycare through Medicaid Waivers, which are individual to each state. If your parent qualifies for Medicaid, check to see if your state Waivers allow this coverage. Some states may have enrollment caps or waiting lists for local adult daycare programs.

Veterans who are enrolled with the VA may participate in the Adult Day Health Care program, a half-day or full-day program that’s offered at VA medical centers, state veterans homes or specific community organizations. There may be a copayment for these services, based on your parent’s disability status and financial circumstances.

Long-term-care insurance policies may or may not cover adult daycare services. If your parent has coverage, check the wording of their policy to see if it will cover your parent’s participation in a local program.

How do I find home adult daycare for my loved one?

Your parent’s doctor may recommend a local adult daycare program, or you may see local programs advertising their services. If you have friends or neighbors whose loved ones have participated in adult daycare, ask for recommendations.

You can search for programs through your local Area Agency on Aging. To find their contact information, use the U.S. Administration on Aging’s Eldercare Locator. You may also search for adult daycare programs through the Community Resource Finder, a service from the Alzheimer’s Association and AARP. Another option is the National Adult Day Services Association search engine.

When you consider local adult daycare centers in your area, ask the following questions:

  • Is your program licensed with the state?
  • How long has your program been operating?
  • What are the qualifications of your employees, and what training do they have?
  • Do your employees help with activities of daily living, including eating and using the bathroom?
  • Are music, exercise, art or other programs available for people with dementia?
  • If my parent will be eating meals with the program, does your facility provide nutritious food? Can you accommodate special dietary needs?
  • Does your program accommodate people with special needs, including those who are wheelchair users and those with hearing or vision impairment?
  • How often do you provide status updates to family members? How do you get in touch if my parent has a problem or needs medical intervention?

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