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Sunday August 14, 2022

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

How to Choose an Adult Day Care Services Provider

Can you offer any tips on choosing a good adult day care provider for an elderly parent? My 81-year-old father, who just moved in with me, has dementia and needs attention during the day while I am at work.

Adult day care services can be a great option for caregivers who work, or for those who just need a break during the day. Here is what you should know, along with some tips to help you find and choose one.

Adult Day Care

The business of adult day care services has grown rapidly in recent years. According to the National Adult Day Services Association, there are upwards of 4,600 adult day centers across the United States. This is a 35% increase since 2002. The centers provide services to more than 260,000 participants and family caregivers, which is a whopping 63% increase over the last two decades.

As the name implies, adult day care provides care for elderly seniors who cannot care for themselves at home. While services will vary from center to center, they typically provide personal care, meals and snacks, various activities and social interaction in a safe and supportive environment. Additionally, many centers provide health services such as medication management, therapies, exercise and transportation to and from the facility.

Adult day care centers generally operate programs during normal business hours five days a week. However, some centers may offer services in the evenings and on weekends.

Costs for care will vary, usually from $25 to more than $100 per day depending on where you live. The national average is $75 per day.

Unfortunately, in most cases, original Medicare does not pay for adult day care, but some Medicare Advantage plans and many long-term care insurance policies do. Many seniors or their families pay for care out-of-pocket.

If your dad is lower income and cannot afford this, state Medicaid programs provide financial assistance if he meets eligibility requirements. Some states have PACE programs that provide financial aid. Contact your state Medicaid office (see Medicaid.gov) for more information. The VA even provides adult day care to eligible veterans enrolled in their Medical Benefits Package. See VA.gov/geriatrics to learn more.

How to Choose

Your first step in shopping for an adult day center is to determine the kinds of services you and your dad need. After you do that, here are some tips to help you locate and choose a good provider.

Start by contacting your Area Agency on Aging (call 800-677-1116 to get your local number) to get referrals to adult day service programs in your area. You can also search on your favorite online search engine for accredited services and centers.

Once you have a list of a few centers, call them to find out their eligibility criteria, if they offer the types of services your dad needs, if they are accepting new clients, their hours of operation, if they are licensed and/or registered with a state agency (this is not required in all states) and what they charge.

After you identify a few good centers, go in for a visit. Find out about the staffing ratio (at least one staff member for every six participants is recommended) and what kind of training they have. While you are there, take note of the cleanliness of the facility. Is it homey and inviting? Does the staff seem friendly and knowledgeable? Be sure to taste the food and also consider making an unannounced visit. You may want to search online for a helpful checklist of questions to ask during your visit.

After your visit, be sure to check the center's references. Get names and phone numbers of at least two or three families who have used the center you are considering and call them.

Published August 27, 2021
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