Tiffany Smith @TiffanySmith

About Day Health Programs

Learn about an alternative to home care.

Adult day programs are designed for older adults and can be a cost-effective alternative to home care. Adult day programs offer a coordinated program of professional care in settings that can range from home-like environments that provide care for 8-20 elders at a time to larger centers that service a greater number of elders. Working caregivers rely on adult day programs so their parent, grandparent or spouse isn't left alone all day. Adult day programs generally operate during normal business hours Monday through Friday; however, some are open as early as 6 a.m. to as late as 8 p.m. Some programs even offer services on weekends. Meals and afternoon snacks are often provided, and a nurse or other health services are on-call, as well as a number of care aides to assist as needed.

Adult day programs exist all around the country and are invaluable. They assist our aging population and their caregivers by offering daily care so that family members can either work or take respite. They also allow our loved ones to gather, meet friends and enjoy daily activities. Some adult day care programs also provide transportation, usually at an additional cost.

There are three types of adult day programs:

  1. Those designed to meet social needs.
  2. Those to meet medical needs.
  3. Those that are disease specific, such as for dementia and Alzheimer's.

All types offer a variety of services such as meals, activities, educational programs, and minimal medical support (such as medication monitoring and vital signs check). Medical needs adult day programs offer more medical services and may have a nurse and CNAs on staff and can even provide certain therapies (such as oxygen). Those in a dementia program offer stimuli and activities to enhance care regimens, and also pay attention to wandering and other safety aspects.

How Much Do Adult Day Programs Cost?
Some adult day programs are subsidized by the state or by private funds. Average cost is $61 a day, which may be subsidized. Some long-term care insurance also covers adult day care. Medicare part B (or their health insurance) may also cover at least part of the skilled services and therapies your loved one might need at a medical adult day care. Be sure to ask what charges you will be responsible for and if you're charged a daily, weekly or monthly rate. Most adult day programs allow you to come half days, one day a week or the whole five days, with fees varying.

How Are Adult Day Programs Regulated?
Adult day programs are regulated at the state level and provide care for those with a wide range of family incomes. Many offer free or low-cost transportation to and from the facility, and most facilities are within your community.

Read our Tips for Selecting Adult Day Health Programs for more information.

Tiffany Smith is the senior associate editor here at She has written for All You, Time for Kids and the Boston Globe. And as a former babysitter, she knows a lot about fun games to play with kids. Getting them to eat their veggies -- that’s a different story! Follow her on Twitter at @tiffanyiswrite

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  • are there a list of adult day care facilities around Chicago area for dementia patients?

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