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Adult Day Care for People With Alzheimer's Disease

Finding the Right Adult Day Care Program for Your Loved One


Updated March 04, 2009

Photo © Administration on Aging

Adult day care centers should offer appropriate activities for people with Alzheimer's disease.

Photo © Administration on Aging
If you're a caregiver and you need a break or you need to work while also caring for your loved one, adult day care could be a lifesaver for you. Adult day care provides your loved one with supervision and social interaction outside of the home for a few hours or the whole day.

According to the National Adult Day Services Association, more than 3,400 adult day care centers across the United States care for over 150,000 people each day who have Alzheimer's disease or another chronic condition that makes it difficult for them to stay home alone.

How do you find adult day care centers, and which one is best for your relative? Here are some tips for finding and choosing the right program for your loved one:

  • Ask for local recommendations. Call your Area Agency on Aging (try your local phone book, www.eldercare.gov or the nearest Alzheimer's Association) and ask for referrals to adult day care services in your neighborhood. Also ask friends and neighbors who are caring for older relatives -- they may have found a program that meets their needs. Senior centers and doctors are other good sources of referrals.

  • Develop a list of questions. Think about what factors are most important to you when choosing adult day care. Do you need the center to be open during certain hours? Can you drop off and pick up your loved one or will you need help with transportation? Does your relative have personal care needs that require extra assistance (e.g., help with eating or going to the bathroom)?

  • Visit more than one center. Visit at least a few centers, if possible, to compare logistics and quality of care. Pay attention to the way staff members interact with the clients. Also note whether the center is welcoming, clean and bright and whether the environment is active, but not chaotic.

  • Check for license and/or registration. Check your state laws (or ask your local Area Agency on Aging) to see if adult day care centers need to be licensed or registered with the state. If so, make sure the facility has a current license/registration and that it has no major violations (e.g., abuse, neglect, theft).

  • Ask about cost. According to the National Adult Day Services Association, the average cost of adult day care is $61 a day (for an 8 to 10 hour day), which includes meals and/or snacks. Some centers offer financial assistance through grants or government contracts; Medicaid will also sometimes pay for adult day care.

  • Ask about Alzheimer's expertise. Most adult day care centers provide services to people with Alzheimer's, other types of dementia and other chronic conditions. Make sure that all staff members are trained to work with Alzheimer's individuals and that activities are tailored to their unique needs and abilities.

  • Enjoy your break. It might be hard to leave your relative at an adult day care center for the first time, but trust that you've done your homework and chosen the best center for your loved one. Take care of yourself, and try to relax while your relative is at the center, because adult day care can help you as much as it can benefit your loved one.


Adult day services: Overview and facts. National Adult Day Services Association. 2008. http://www.nadsa.org/adsfacts/default.asp

Opdyke, J. D. “Finding day care – For your parents.” The Wall Street Journal 10 Jan 2008.

Selecting quality providers. National Adult Day Services Association. 2008. http://www.nadsa.org/quality_providers/default.asp

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