Adult day services are a practical and helpful part of the solution to long-term care needs of seniors, as well as younger people with disabilities. For many, adult day services are an alternative option to nursing homes or other residential/institutional forms of care. They are designed to serve individuals who are experiencing a decrease in physical, mental and social function, and need the protective environment that adult day services and staff can provide.

People who benefit most from adult day centers are seniors who need supervision, social interaction and assistance with more than one activity of daily living, such as eating, walking, using the bathroom, bathing or dressing. These centers provide a wide variety of services, including recreational therapy, meals, social services, transportation, personal care (e.g., bathing, hair and nail care), nursing services, rehabilitation therapy (e.g., physical, occupational and speech therapy) and medical services.

Adult day centers care for seniors struggling with Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia or other related disorders; intellectual disabilities and developmental disabilities; chronic mental illness; and physical problems related to aging and disability. Not all centers are able to provide care for all of these conditions, so it will be important to ask each center what its services include. As the caregiver of a loved one, you can start by asking the following questions:

  • Has the staff been trained to care for individuals with needs similar to you or your loved one?
  • Do the seniors in the center have similar needs as you or your loved one?
  • Do the programs integrate or allow all individuals to participate in the activities regardless of needs?
    • If not, are there specialized programs and services available?

The center’s professional staff should assess each individual (patient?) to develop a personalized care plan. Adult day centers have a variety of professional employees that may include nurses, social workers, therapists and other specially trained staff.

Adult day center activities for seniors may include current event discussion groups, arts and crafts, music, health education and exercise groups. These activities give seniors an opportunity to express themselves, and learn and develop new skills.

Adult day services may be less expensive than institutional care. The fees can vary from center to center based on included services. Some centers may offer a reduced fee to low-income individuals.