Adult Day Care Centers: 5 Common Features

Adult Day Care Centers

Adult day care centers are important adjuncts to caring for elders who live in a home rather than an institution, but who still need significant help and monitoring throughout a day. These centers provide a safe, supervised environment for elderly adults during the day. We don’t especially like the word “Adult Day Care” because many of the people who take advantage of these services are capable of taking care of people twenty years younger than they are.  These are centers for those who live at home to socialize and meet others in a similar age bracket since many older people find themselves in new communities for a variety of reasons (they move to be near their children, they downsize or move to a place with a lower cost of living). But if you want to find these wonderful local senior nests you will need to search Adult Day Care or use our compiled directory of over 2,700 centers around the U.S.  There are roughly 5,000 adult day care centers across the United States, serving about 300,000 persons.

Finding the right place can take some visits and the first visit may not prove to give someone a feeling of how much they will like it after five visits.  Moral of the story:  don’t judge the center by the first visit, try it several times to see what it is all about.

A survey by the National Association of States for United Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD) showed that adult day care services nationwide share many common features. The following five factors comprise a profile or snapshot of America’s adult day care centers.

  1. Adult Day Care Centers generally provide seniors with nutritious meals and snacks, social life, and basic services.

According to the NASUAD 2015 report, the majority of U.S. adult day care centers provide nutritious meals and snacks and assistance with bodily functions like eating, toileting, and transferring from place to place. They commonly provide transportation, medication management, and monitoring of vital signs, including blood pressure. Grooming assistance is a service that most adult day care centers also provide, as well as companionship and activities.

  1. Adult Day Care Centers provide significant medical care.

The NASUAD noted that adult day care centers are a nexus between medical and social services. Roughly half of adult day care centers give such specialized medical care as diabetes management. Less than half but a significant portion of adult day care centers provide physical therapy, catheter care, occupational therapy, oxygen therapy, colostomy care, and other important medical services.

  1. Adult Day Care Centers reduce caregivers’ stress.

Adult day care use has proven to be good for caregivers. Penn State professor Steve Zarit notes that caregivers are more prone to illness because of the exhaustion and stress they endure. Professor Zarit co-authored a study about caregiving and adult day care centers conducted jointly by Penn State and the University of Texas at Austin. The study, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, showed that the day after a caregiver’s elderly charge had been in an adult day care center, the caregiver’s beneficial stress hormone—DHEA-S—was heightened. DHEA-S controls the harmful effects of cortisol (the “bad” stress hormone) and contributes to longer life.

Find over 2700 Day Care Centers for Adults in the Senior Living Resource Directory

  1. Adult Day Care Centers are cost-effective.

Adult day care centers are often part of Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) that are funded or supplemented by Medicaid. However, many are funded by a variety of other sources, including private pay, the Older Americans Act, state funds, Veterans’ Administration funds, donations, insurance, local charities, municipal funds, and Social Services Block Grants. This makes them far less expensive than institutional care.

Compared to a national average of almost $200 per day at a nursing home, adult day care costs less than $70 per day, according to nationwide averages, and includes meals, snacks, and other aspects of care.

Although the majority of adult day care centers are stand-alones, many are attached to a medical institution, such as a hospital, nursing home, or municipal senior center, or they are built on the same grounds. Adult day care centers also exist in churches, synagogues, senior housing centers, and office complexes.

  1. Adult Day Care CentersThey enable aging in place.

Adult day care centers are an excellent community support system for seniors who live with caregivers or on their own and wish to continue doing so, but who need help, supervision, and companionship throughout the day. Adult day care centers allow people to age in place while providing respite and peace of mind for caregivers, as well as medical care, social opportunities, nutrition, and health support to the elderly The over-stretched caregiver might want to consider adult day care during at least a couple of days per week. The senior and the caregiver will benefit as long as the facility provides activities that are useful and engaging, a clean and pleasant environment, safe and comfortable furnishings, clear information, and a compassionate, well-trained staff.

Where Can You Find an Adult Day Care Center?

Adult day care goes by many names: Adult Day Services, Adult Day Health, or, simply, Adult Services. If you are searching for a facility and program in your area, any of these names may be used. Your local aging information and assistance provider or Area Agency on Aging (AAA) can help you find adult day care under whatever name it uses in your locale.

Or you can use the Adult Day Care locator located under the Senior Living Resources tab.



National Adult Day Services Association.(NADSA). (March 19, 2014). Adult day services boosts beneficial stress hormones in caregivers. Available online at Retrieved 12/30/2015.

National Adult Day Services Association.(NADSA). (n.d.). Comparing Long Term Care Services. Available online at Retrieved 12/30/2015.

National Adult Day Services Association.(NADSA). (n..d.). Site Visit Checklist. Available online at Retrieved 12/30/2015.

National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD). (April 2015). Medicaid HCBS Settings Regulations and Adult Services. Available online at Retrieved 12/30/2015.