Adult day care provides support, supervision and enrichment outside the home, typically during business hours on weekdays. Seniors live at home, usually with family caregivers, but attend day programs at community centers. These services enable family members to work, study, care for children or take a break while maintaining peace of mind about their relative’s safety and quality of life.

Group day care programs differ from in-home care because they take place in a community setting. Plus, they don’t offer one-on-one services or include domestic chores that home caregivers provide. This guide gives an overview of adult day care, including common services, benefits and costs.

 Key Takeaways

  • Adult Day Care Services: Information about typical recreational activities offered by most adult day care and examples of limited medical care provided by some centers.
  • Benefits of Adult Day Care: Insight into key benefits for adult day care attendees, including those with dementia.  
  • Paying for Adult Day Care: Details of adult day care monthly fees and ways to pay for services, including public benefits, VA benefits and private resources.
  • Comparison of Care Options: Overview of alternative care choices, such as home care, assisted living facilities and nursing homes.     

Candidates for Adult Day Care

Adult day care serves seniors with varying needs and preferences and keeps your loved one busy and engaged. Candidates who benefit greatly include elderly individuals who:

  • Experience daytime isolation or loneliness
  • Need social or emotional support
  • Can’t structure hobbies or daily activities
  • Struggle to initiate pastimes such as reading or watching television
  • Have dementia or other medical conditions

Services and Amenities Provided by Adult Day Care

Although the contents of each adult day program vary, most provide a range of engaging activities, such as:

  • Ability-appropriate fitness classes
  • Chair exercises
  • Dance classes
  • Group conversations
  • Educational workshops
  • Arts and crafts
  • Trivia and card games
  • Fashion shows
  • Birthday celebrations
  • Excursions

Some adult day centers also offer limited health services, such as:

  • Music or art therapy
  • Support groups
  • Counseling
  • Physical, occupational and speech therapies
  • Vision and hearing care
  • Cognitive stimulation
  • Routine health checks

Many providers offer accessible transportation between home and the center.

General Benefits of Adult Day Care Programs

Adult day care programs offer diverse benefits for seniors and their loved ones.

  • Caregiver respite: Adult day services relieve some of the stress, anxiety or exhaustion associated with caregiving. Additionally, they provide predictable hours for working, attending to personal needs or running errands.   
  • Boredom remedy: Seniors gain stimulation and enrichment from diverse activities.
  • Loneliness reduction: Individuals interact with peers and may build meaningful connections. Seniors who seldom see anyone outside of their family often feel lonely, which can negatively affect their mental and physical well-being.
  • Sense of purpose: Day care offers routine and structure, which often benefits retirees.
  • Additional access to health services: Centers may provide basic health care and preventative screenings that older adults might find difficult to access otherwise.  

Benefits of Adult Day Care for Seniors with Dementia

An adult day care program, especially one tailored to people with dementia, has many benefits for someone experiencing cognitive decline. Centers typically customize services for people with dementia who:

  • Live in their own homes or with a caregiver
  • Don’t require constant one-on-one assistance
  • Have some mobility (most programs allow a self-propelled wheelchair)
  • Are continent
  • Don’t engage in physical or verbal abuse
  • Don’t wander excessively

Consider registering your loved one for a few starter sessions rather than diving into full-time day care. If they find the transition difficult, discuss concerns with your relative and center staff. However, if problems persist, in-home care or companion services might better fulfill your needs.

Note: Staff in dementia day care programs often have specialized education or training. However, unlike residential memory care, dementia day care does not require special licensing.

For more insights, see our full article called How Can Adult Day Care Benefit Those with Dementia?

How Much Does Adult Day Care Cost and How Can I Pay?

Adult day care costs less than other senior care options in most locales. Per Genworth’s 2023 Cost of Care Survey, the national median rate stands at $2,058 per month. However, fees vary significantly depending on the area, services and operator. Many programs have a sliding fee scale for lower-income families and sometimes accept hourly payments.

In some communities, churches run free adult drop-in programs that don’t qualify as certified adult day care centers but can serve a similar purpose, albeit with limited services. Additionally, low-income seniors have access to financial assistance programs.  

Veterans Benefits

Veterans qualifying for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical benefits and needing long-term care may receive free services at VA-run adult day care centers. This benefit is designed to support the health and well-being of veterans by providing them with access to daily comprehensive care in a supportive community setting.

Explore our comprehensively researched guide to veterans benefits.

Medicaid and PACE

State Medicaid programs might pay for some adult day services for eligible seniors. In some areas, the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) may fund adult day care.    

Tip: For help with questions about Medicaid or a PACE program’s coverage of adult day care, contact your local Area Agency on Aging. You can also get free expert counseling from the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).


Neither Medicare Part A or Medicare Part B covers adult day care services. However, some Part C plans offer limited adult day care coverage.

Additionally, Part B covers physician-prescribed mental health treatment at an outpatient mental health clinic. If the clinic also runs an adult day care program, patients can use services while receiving treatment, though they may have a copayment.

Other Funding Options

Other ways to pay for adult day care include:

Payment Method

How it Works


Individuals use retirement income, such as Social Security, pensions, bonds and annuities, to privately pay for adult day services.


Seniors fund adult day care using retirement plans and bank savings, including 401(k)s, IRAs and 403(b)s.

Some long-term care insurance plans pay for adult day care for policyholders who meet functional care requirements.

Senior homeowners may secure a loan against their property, receiving a lump sum or monthly payments that they can use however they choose. Loans become repayable if individuals sell their homes, permanently move or pass away.

How Does Adult Day Care Compare to Other Senior Care Options?

Before enrolling your loved one in adult day care, compare alternative care options to find which best suits their needs.  


Adult Day Care

In-Home Care

Home Health Care

Assisted Living

Skilled Nursing Care


Community center

Senior’s residence

Senior’s residence

Residential facility

Residential facility











Private studios, companion suites, apartments, cottages

Private or semi-private rooms



Variable, depending on hours of care needed

Variable, depending on hours of care needed




Weekdays during business hours





Meal Plans

Usually includes meals on attendance days

May include assistance with meal preparation and grocery shopping

May include home-delivered meals

Three meals daily

Three meals daily

Typical Services

Programmed group activities, socialization, limited health and personal care

Help with activities of daily living and personal care, companionship, light housework and chores

Personal care and medication management, intermittent skilled nursing and therapies

Help with activities of daily living and personal care, maintenance, housekeeping, recreational programming

Skilled medical and rehabilitative care, nutritional oversight, medical social services

Organized Social Activities?






Medical Care?






Comparing Adult Day Care Costs and Other Types of Senior Care

Adult day care prices are significantly lower than other senior care options. According to Genworth’s 2023 Cost of Care Survey, nationwide monthly median costs for care options vary:

Type of Senior Care

Median Monthly Cost

Skilled Nursing Facility (private room)


Skilled Nursing Facility (semi-private room)


Assisted Living


Home Health Care


In-Home Care


Adult Day Care


How Do I Find an Adult Day Care Program?

Begin your search for adult day services by entering your city or ZIP code into our Senior Living Directory above. Then, compare the ratings and reviews of each facility to pinpoint the best match for your loved one.

Finally, contact and visit local providers with a copy of the National Adult Day Services Association site checklist in hand, allowing you to thoroughly examine the offerings and verify that the facility adheres to your standards and expectations.

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