Angie's LIST Guide to
Adult day care

If you need daily assistance in caring for your loved one, adult day care facilities provide support and companionship in a small group setting for elderly adults who are unable to care for themselves.
 

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Adult daycare centers provide families and seniors alternative options for daily care and socialization. (Photo by Stephan B. Thornton)
Adult daycare centers provide families and seniors alternative options for daily care and socialization. (Photo by Stephan B. Thornton)
 
 

Elder care options

When exploring care options for your loved one, you’re bound to run across a dizzying array of terms. Because many seniors bristle at the mere mention of the words nursing home, facilities and staff often resort to euphemisms in an effort to put families more at ease. In her book, Eldercare for Dummies, Dr. Rachelle Zukerman lists several of these synonyms: “old folks home, rest home, convalescent home, health center, rehabilitation center, home for the aged, living center, nursing center, care center.”

More directly, types of elder care generally fall into these categories:

  • Nursing Home. These facilities have with live-in residents who require constant care by licensed health care professionals.
  • Assisted Living. Usually apartment- or condo-type settings, seniors can live more independently than at a nursing home but still have access to care. They’re still seen on an as-needed basis by a network of providers and receive help managing medications and grooming. Many nursing homes also have independent living residences.
  • Independent Living. More like a retirement community, these facilities are for seniors who don’t need special care, just opportunities to socialize. Some also offer meals and transportation.
  • In-Home Elder Care Services. Services can consist of assistance at a senior’s own home with health care, meals preparation and transportation from a network of doctors or nurses. Care can range from round-the-clock in shifts to periodic checkups.
  • Adult day care. Programs provide supervision and activities during daytime hours to give the caregiver a break and peace of mind while at work or running errands.

The first three types follow a scale from a low to high level of independence for the senior. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities aren’t exclusive to the elderly, but often include younger people with other disabilities.

Choosing adult day care

You'll find most adult day care centers located throughout major cities in convenient locations close to businesses and doctor's offices. Many provide adult day services including socialization skills for elderly persons who normally may be shut-ins or unable to visit with peers on a regular basis. Most centers encourage socialization through a variety of activities related to activities of daily living (ADLs) that help promote good emotional health and stimulate and activate the mind. Centers usually provide meals and snacks. 

Several activities often happen throughout the day and week at most centers. Games such as bingo, card games and shuffleboard may be organized for interested individuals in addition to arts and crafts and movie time. Local businesses, schools and performing art centers may volunteer their time to entertain residents with plays, musicals and choirs.

If you are trying to delay placing your loved one into a nursing home and want him or her to remain as independent as possible, this type of care will give you the respite services you need to retain some normality in your busy life of care giving. With a qualified adult day care facility, you will know your loved one is being well cared for while you are at work, running errands or taking care of your own personal needs. You can also use adult day care as a stepping stone of care when going into or coming out of a nursing care facility.

Qualifying for adult day care

Before enrolling in this type of program, a social worker or case manager will discuss any special type of dietary needs your loved one has. He or she will go over any health concerns, including current and prior health conditions to ensure that the center can meet your loved ones specific needs. The facility may also request copies of medical records and lists of current medications and prescription drugs to keep on file.

In many cases, your loved one may need a referral in order to get into an this type of day program. This referral is often made from his or her primary care physician or social worker. Generally, senior citizens or adults who require constant supervision are good candidates for care. Specific criteria may need to be met based on the staffing needs of the center and what type of care they are licensed to give.

Be sure to check Angie's List for certified adult day care centers near you. There, you can read through member reviews and ratings.

Professionals at these centers are equipped and trained to handle a variety of illnesses, including dementia, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, diabetes and an array of physical and developmental disabilities. Discuss specific needs with the provider so the facility can make accommodations.

Making an appointment with a facility will also give you a better insight into the qualification process. Many adult day care services are not covered under primary insurance and Medicare, even with a referral. Ask the facility what payment options are available and work out a plan that you can afford.

Benefits to adult day care

Having your loved one cared for in an adult day care setting can give you the peace of mind you need, knowing their personal needs are being met. Adult day care centers are a viable alternative to hiring someone to stay in your home during the day or having a private duty nurse or home health aide through a home care program. In some cases, these centers may offer more intense care, such as therapeutic services, visiting nurse care, mobile medical clinics, health screenings and other types of medical management. In many cases, adult day care centers offer transportation to and from home or a doctor's office.

Counseling services may also be available for both you and your loved one to identify any potential problems with the overall plan of care.

The main goal of an adult day care is to meet the emotional, physical and social needs of both the participant and the caregivers.

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