Adult Day Services

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Adult day care is a planned program of activities designed to promote well-being though social and health-related services. Adult day care centers operate during daytime hours, Monday through Friday, in a safe, supportive, cheerful environment. Adult day care centers can be public or private, non-profit or for-profit. The intent of an adult day center is primarily two-fold:

  • To provide older adults an opportunity to get out of the house and receive both mental and social stimulation
  • To give caregivers a much-needed break in which to attend to personal needs, or simply rest and relax


Often, services are unique to the offerings of the local community. There are three main types of adult day centers:

  • Social – which provides meals, recreation and health-related services
  • Medical/health – which provides social activities as well as more intensive health and therapeutic services
  • Specialized – which provide services only to specific care recipient e.g. those diagnosed with dementias or developmental disabilities.

Common activities are:

  • therapeutic; includes exercise and mental interaction for participants
  • meals and snacks for all, including those with special dietary needs
  • social interaction with other participants in planned activities appropriate for their physical and mental conditions
  • door-to-door transportation
  • arts and crafts
  • musical entertainment and sing-a-longs
  • mental stimulation games such as bingo
  • stretching or other gentle exercise
  • discussion groups (books, films, current events)
  • holiday and birthday celebrations
  • local outings


According to the National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA), there are currently more than 4,600 adult day care centers in the United States. Each state provides different regulations for the operation of adult day care centers, although NADSA offers some overall guidelines in its Standards and Guidelines for Adult Day Care. NADSA recommends a minimum staff-to-participant ratio of one to six. This ratio can be even smaller, depending upon the level of participant impairment. If a program serves a large proportion of participants with dementia, for example, the ratio of staff to participants should be closer to one to four


Gather your thoughts on the specific need your loved one has and the types of activities they most enjoy doing. Be sure you have clarity on:

  • time of day best suited for your schedule to match the providers schedule
  • medical forms that a doctor may need to sign
  • the level of service your loved one needs


Once the types of services the convenient Adult Day Services offers is established; determine the how both your short and long term needs will be accommodated.

  • Check to see if funds are available to help low-income participants.
  • Ask how this Adult Day Service differs from the local senior center.
  • Understand if Alzheimer/Dementia patients are regular clientele.
  • Study activities that are offered as part of the programs.
  • A walker or a wheelchair may need to accompany your loved one; check accommodations.

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