Choosing Adult Day Care Services Providers

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Home Instead


(SAVVY SENIOR) Adult day care services can be great options for caregivers who work, or for those who just need a break during the day. Here’s what you should know, along with some tips to help you find and choose one.

Choosing the Appropriate Service

The business of adult day care services has grown rapidly in recent years. According to the National Adult Day Services Association, upwards of 4,600 adult day centers are in operation across the United States, the result of a 35-percent increase since 2002. Those centers provide services to more than 260,000 participants and family caregivers, which is a whopping 63-percent increase over the last two decades.

As the name implies, adult day care provides care for elderly seniors who cannot care for themselves at home. While services will vary from center to center, they typically provide personal care, meals and snacks, various activities, and social interaction in a safe supportive environment. Additionally, many centers also provide health services such as medication management, various therapies, exercise, and transportation to and from the facility.

Adult day care centers generally operate programs during normal business hours, five days a week. However, some centers may offer services in the evenings and on weekends, too.

Costs for care will vary as well, usually between $25 to more than $100 per day (the national average is $75/day), depending on where you live.

Unfortunately, in most cases, original Medicare does not pay for adult day care, but some Medicare Advantage plans and many long-term care insurance policies do. But most seniors or their families pay for care out-of-pocket.

If you are lower income and can’t afford this, state Medicaid programs provide financial assistance if you meet eligibility requirements, and some states have PACE programs that provide financial aid. Contact your state Medicaid office (see for more information. The VA even provides adult day care to eligible veterans enrolled in their Medical Benefits Package.

Choosing a Good Provider

Your first step in shopping for an adult day center is to determine the kinds of services the patient and family care provider need. After you do that, locate and choose a good provider.

Start by contacting your Area Agency on Aging (call 800-677-1116 to get your local number) to get referrals to adult day service programs in your area. You can also search the National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA) database at

Once you have a list of a few centers, call them to find out their eligibility criteria, if they offer the types of services you and your family require, if they are accepting new clients, their hours of operation, if they’re licensed and/or registered with a state agency (this is not required in all states), and what they charge.

After you identify a few good centers, go in for a visit. Find out about the staffing ratio (at least one staff member for every six participants is recommended) and what kind of training they have. While you’re there, notice the cleanness and smell of the facility. Is it homey and inviting? Does the staff seem friendly and knowledgeable? Also be sure to taste the food and consider making an unannounced visit.

To help you rate your visit, the NADSA offers a helpful checklist of questions to ask at—click on “Site Visit Checklist” under the “For Caregivers” tab.
Then, after your visit, be sure to check their references. Get names and phone numbers of at least two or three families who have used the center you are considering and call them. MSN

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of the book The Savvy Senior.

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