Adult Day Services Programs

We all want to maintain our independence throughout our lives. But for millions of American adults with physical or cognitive impairment, continuing to live alone poses a risk, and relying on a spouse or family member for 24-hour care can be stressful for everyone. Seniors with medically complex health challenges may be best served by residential care, such as a nursing home or assisted living. Home care services are a good choice to help others remain at home. And today, more and more seniors are able to remain in their homes, or the homes of a family caregiver, by taking advantage of adult day programs.

What is an Adult Day Center?

Sometimes called as adult day services, adult day care centers, or adult day health centers, these organizations are a place where older adults and other physically or mentally impaired persons can go during the day for security, socializing, recreation, and help with personal care. Many adult day health centers also provide health and rehabilitation-related services.

The majority of participants are over age 65, but adult day centers are open to any adult over age 18 who has a physical or cognitive disability. Participants of adult day centers most often live with family members, but many still live in their own homes, or in assisted living communities or adult family homes.

What Services May Adult Day Centers Provide?

Social Activities and Intellectual Stimulation

  • Group and individual activities.
  • Community outings and field trips.
  •  Therapeutic recreation—for fun, but also for rehabilitation benefits.
  • Dementia-appropriate activities, such as music, pet therapy or sensory programs.
  • Ability-appropriate and adaptive activities for participants with physical disabilities.

Healthcare and Rehabilitation Services

  • Care for health problems, such as diabetes or congestive heart failure.
  • Medical procedures, such as medication management, diabetic monitoring or wound care.
  • Rehabilitation therapies (physical, occupational or speech therapy). Rehab services might include gait training, ambulation, exercise and strengthening classes, fall prevention, and help performing activities of daily living (ADLs).

Mental Health Care

Adult day health centers may provide mental health services such as:

  • Psychiatric evaluation.
  • Sessions with counselor, social worker.
  • Education and support groups.
  • Medication management.
  • Treatment for depression.
  • Stress management training.
  • Alzheimer’s care, emphasizing quality of life, validation, and meaningful activities for each individual.

Personal Care

Adult day centers offer assistance with personal care, grooming and other activities of daily living, such as:

  • bathing.
  • haircuts and shampoos.
  • shaving.
  • foot and nail care.
  • toileting.


  • Healthy, nourishing meals and snacks.
  • Special diets (diabetic, low-salt, swallowing problems, etc.).


  • Many centers will send a bus or van for participants, or make arrangements with the community’s public transit or taxi services.

Locating Adult Day Centers

For a recommendation or list of adult day centers, consult:

  • the person’s family physician, social worker, geriatric care manager or hospital discharge planner.
  • the local Office on Aging or Senior Information and Referral number.
  • the National Adult Day Services Association website (, which offers a searchable directory.
  • the National Eldercare Locator ( or 1-800-677-1116), a service of the U.S. Administration on Aging

Paying for an Adult Day Center

Adult day center fees vary; according to the National Adult Day Services Association, the national average rate for adult day centers is $61 per day. In some cases, some fees can be paid by Medicaid, the Veteran’s Administration, or the participant’s private insurance or long-term care insurance. Families may also qualify for tax credit. Some centers charge for services on a sliding scale, depending on the person’s income. Other funding may be available, and the intake coordinator of the center may work with families to explore possible options.

Copyright © AgeWise, 2013