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Adult Day Care Programs: How They Help Caregivers

Learn the benefits of senior day care centers to help prevent caregiver burnout. Seniorly explores the different levels of services that are provided.

By Emma Rodbro · Updated Aug 08, 2022

Time off from caregiving is important to maintain your physical and emotional health. Family and friends may be able to help, but formal adult day care is another way to manage the stress of caregiving.  Adult day care gives you time for yourself, an opportunity to get together with friends, the ability to keep working, or a chance to finish household chores and errands during some much-needed time off. It's this type of help that caregivers most often request, and yet they often put off using it for too long. Taking advantage of this early in the caregiving process can reduce or delay the negative effects of stress and help your well-being. 

What is Adult Day Care?

Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) is the term used to describe adult day care programs that provide the care to the recipient as well as social time and activities as well as a break for the caregiver. These programs can also offer health services, and supervised care during the day, 

Research on adult day care programs for older adults with dementia have found improvements in the health and well-being of both the caregiver and care recipient. Most participants attend programs for full days and about half attend five days a week.

Just like choosing a senior housing community, adult day care programs vary. It’s important to do some research and visit programs to find one that is the best fit for you and your loved one.  

Key Things to Consider:

  • Caregivers in previous studies have identified personalized care for their loved one as important.  Adult day care programs have about one direct care worker for every six participants to help ensure individually focused care.
  • Seniors that are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid may be eligible to receive ADHC from a local Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). Participants must be 55 or older and certified by their state that they need nursing home level of care. They also must live in a PACE service area.
  • About 60% of adult day care programs offer case management services and about half have a social work professional on staff.
  • The majority of adult day care programs have a nurse on staff who can provide basic health services and help your loved one manage their medications while they are there.
  • It’s not uncommon for participants to have multiple chronic illnesses. Most programs offer a variety of education, physical activities, diet programs, medication management, and referrals for specific diseases and conditions.
  • It’s also not uncommon for many of the participants to experience some level of dementia. Adult day care programs provide a safe environment along with activities to help address cognitive and memory problems.
  • Most centers have caregiver support programs such as education, support groups, and individual counseling.
  • Meals and transportation are common.
  • The average cost is about $64 a day depending on where you live and the services provided, as opposed to about $20 an hour for in-home care.
  • Medicare does not pay for adult day care. Medicaid will pay most or all of the fees for a licensed adult day health care center or a program focused on dementia care. Long-term care insurance may also help pay some of the cost.  Most programs will have a sliding fee scale and many can provide financial aid or scholarships.

3 Types of Adult Day Care

Once you have decided what level of care your loved one requires it is then time to look into the centers. Available senior day services may vary by location and needs. There are three main types of centers available:

  • Social — interaction for seniors and nutrition are the main focus of these centers. Health related services may be available as well.
  • Medical — there is interaction and socialization for seniors as well as  therapeutic services.
  • Specialized — these programs may focus on all social aspects of ADHC, but also take care of seniors that have specific medical issues such as Dementia or Alzheimer’s.

If you think that an adult day care program would be a good option for you and your loved one seek more information through the National Respite Network and Resource Center or your local Area Agency on Aging. These programs can help you find adult day care programs in your community, whether you need support for one day or a few weeks long.

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written by:
Emma Rodbro

Emma Rodbro

Head of Growth Operations at Seniorly, MA in Social Work with focus on aging from UC Berkeley.
View other articles written by Emma

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