An adult day care center is a facility that provides seniors with a safe and active environment during set business hours, typically on weekdays.

Meals, socializing, exercise and assisted living needs are provided by the facility. After business hours, the senior attendees return to their residence.

Why Choose One?

As alternatives to senior living center, adult day care centers allow seniors to stay in their communities and their homes. Seniors who may benefit from adult day care include those who:

    • Need short-term care after a hospital discharge

    • Require daytime assistance their primary caregiver cannot provide

    • Would like to socialize and partake in activities with other seniors

    • Need help due to a cognitive or physical disability

A 2012 market survey by MetLife found that 98% of adult day care centers surveyed provide assistance for those with Alzheimer’s disease, and half of seniors using adult day care have a cognitive impairment.


There are three primary models for adult day care: social, medical and specialized.

    • Social: Centered around activities and socialization, with a lighter emphasis on health services.

    • Medical: Provide more health-related services, such as nursing and rehabilitation therapy.

    • Specialized: Used exclusively to treat those with severe cognitive impairments, such as dementia.

Many adult day cares combine social and medical services.

What They Provide

Regulations for adult day care centers are set at the state level, so there are no across-the-board rules for what they must offer. The National Adult Day Services Association offers certifications for adult day cares that meet their requirements, although applying is voluntary.

While each center will vary, most include:

    • Prepared meals and snacks

    • Transportation

    • Monitoring of vital signs

    • Personal hygiene and grooming assistance

    • Mental and physical exercise programs

    • Social activities

    • Physical therapy

A key part of adult day care centers is their social aspect. They may offer activities such as:

    • Puzzles and brain teasers

    • Art and music therapy

    • Wii gaming

    • Gardening

    • Dancing

    • Arts and crafts

    • Holiday and birthday parties

    • Field trips

Many adult day care centers are affiliated with larger organizations, such as nursing homes or senior centers, while some are independent.


Adult day care services cost an average of $70 a day, or $18,200 a year, according to MetLife. While costs vary widely depending on the type of facility and programs offered, adult day care is much less expensive than the costs associated with a nursing home, assisted living facility or hiring an in-home caregiver.

If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, they may be eligible for funding through Medicaid, so check with your local state office. Long-term care insurance may also cover some costs. Medicare typically does not cover the costs associated with adult care facilities.