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What are Adult Day Care Centers?

By Barbara R. Cochran
Updated May 17, 2024
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Adult day care centers are most often non-profit locations in the community where disabled and/or elderly people can spend up to eight hours a day in a protective environment. This can be beneficial for the participant, as well as his or her immediate family members, who are often with him or her the rest of the time. These centers have generally been in existence in England since the 1950s.

According to the National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA), the number of adult day care centers in the US has mushroomed into upwards of 4,000. They have been an answer to institutionalization for participants and their families, something that was more likely occur in years past when an elderly family member would be experiencing physical and/or cognitive infirmities. The elderly or disabled person’s immediate family members would often feel guilty about leaving him or her to be taken care of in such facilities. Many people who need to work, run errands, and who want to socialize still want their elderly and/or disabled loved one with them at home, as long as will be possible, at the beginning and end of the day.

Three different types of adult day care centers are available to participants, based on their specific needs and eligibility. Adult day social care offers stimulating social and recreational activities, such as games, music, discussion groups, and local outings, and some basic health care services, all of which may lessen physical and mental decline. Adult day health care provides therapeutic health and social services for participants who have serious medical issues, and who are at risk for institutional care. Alzheimer’s adult day care provides health and social interventions only for individuals who have been diagnosed with dementia, or who are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

The cost of adult day care varies per day, but centers that offer professional health services usually charge higher fees. The cost is sometimes less than that involved with having an aide come to the home, and the various programs at adult day care centers often offer socializing, and much more mental stimulation, overall, for the elderly or disabled person. The participant can go to a center five days a week, usually Monday through Friday, up to eight hours a day.

Many facilities provide their services to the participant’s family on a sliding scale, based on income. Some private insurance plans provide partial medical coverage for services at licensed health- or Alzheimer’s-related centers. In those cases, government plans may cover the greatest portion, or all costs incurred, when the participant is low income, and has few or no assets.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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