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Adult Day Care

Adult Day Care Centers are designed to provide care and companionship for older adults who need assistance or supervision during the day. Programs offer relief to family members and caregivers, allowing them to go to work, handle personal business, or just relax while knowing their relative is well cared for and safe.
The goals of the programs are to delay or prevent institutionalization by providing alternative care, to enhance self-esteem, and to encourage socialization. There are two types of adult day care: adult social day care and adult day health care. Adult social day care provides social activities, meals, recreation, and some health-related services. Adult day health care offers intensive health, therapeutic, and social services for individuals with serious medical conditions and those at risk of requiring nursing home care.
Older adults generally participate on a scheduled basis. Services may include:

  • Counseling
  • Education
  • Evening care
  • Exercise
  • Health screening
  • Meals
  • Medical care
  • Physical therapy
  • Recreation
  • Respite care
  • Socialization
  • Supervision
  • Transportation
  • Medication management

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Center Operations

Centers are usually open during normal business hours and may stand alone or be located in senior centers, nursing facilities, places of faith, hospitals, or schools. The staff may monitor medication, serve hot meals and snacks, perform physical or occupational therapy, and arrange social activities. They may also help to arrange transportation to and from the center.

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Case Study

The following is an example of someone who needs adult day care services, both for his well-being and that of his family caregivers.

Paul is 69 years old and recently experienced a stroke. He needs some care and supervision, so he lives with his son, David, and daughter-in-law, Kira. Because they both work, David and Kira need help to care for Paul during the day. They found a solution by having Kira take Paul to the local adult day care center in the morning, and having David pick him up after work. The center monitors Paul’s medication and offers him lunch, some physical therapy, and a chance to socialize with other seniors.

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Finding a Center

Not all states license and regulate adult day care centers. There may be a great deal of difference between individual centers; therefore, it is important to learn more about each center near you. If possible, visit the centers closest to you, and talk with the staff and other families that use the centers to determine whether the facilities meet your needs. You may also want to find out if your state has an adult day care association.

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Paying for Services

Costs vary and can range from $25 to over $100 per day, depending on the services offered, type of reimbursement, and geographic region. While an adult day care center is not usually covered by Medicare insurance, some financial assistance may be available through a federal or state program (e.g., Medicaid, Older Americans Act, Veterans Health Administration).

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Local Programs

To find out more about centers where you live, contact your local aging information and assistance provider or Area Agency on Aging (AAA). For help connecting to these agencies, contact the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 or
The National Adult Day Services Association is a good source for general information about adult day care centers, programs, and associations. Call 1-877-745-1440 or visit

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