Aging In Place

2/28/2022 | By Megan Mullen

Seniors who want to remain in their homes may find that the benefits of adult day services help them achieve the goal of aging in place while meeting many of their changing needs.

Adult day services (also called adult day care services) provide seniors with the best of what meets their needs. That could mean daytime socializing and companionship, healthcare assistance, help with personal care, meals and snacks, recreational activities, structured supervision, or specialized services (e.g., dementia care).

These adult day services use a variety of settings, including freestanding buildings, hospital campuses, nursing homes, and assisted living communities. Some also operate collaboratively with home health agencies and related programs.

The National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA) offers this definition:

Adult Day Services is a system of professionally delivered, integrated, home and community-based, therapeutic, social and health-related services provided to individuals to sustain living within the community.

In other words, these programs mainly serve seniors living in private homes with family or paid caregivers. During the day, they can enjoy a different setting and interact with other people yet still receive needed care and attention. Meanwhile, family and paid staff can take time away from their caregiving responsibilities without worrying about an elder being alone.

Benefits of adult day services

Since 2002, says NADSA, there has been a 35% increase in adult day services centers across the U.S. These centers work with more than 260,000 participants and family caregivers, representing 63% growth over the past two decades.

The many benefits of adult day services have contributed to this growth. These facilities do their communities a tremendous service by offering both tangible and intangible advantages, from lifting the spirits of lonely and sometimes neglected older adults to providing much-needed services.

Social opportunities

A drawback to aging in place, with family or not, is that seniors don’t always find opportunities to go out and interact with others who “get” what they’re going through. They also might be nervous about getting around in unfamiliar spaces or have concerns about using public transportation or rideshares if they don’t drive. However, most adult day services centers have these difficulties under control, with many providing shuttle service for non-driving attendees.

We should also mention that, after getting used to the new setting, most seniors have a wonderful time! They play games, exercise, dine together, attend presentations, and participate in other activities that help keep them alert and engaged. Of course, all this goes a long way towards alleviating loneliness and the depression that often accompanies it.

Meal services

Most day service facilities have their own meal services or are adjacent to shared kitchen and dining areas. They also have dietitians who can plan for special dietary needs. So when it’s time for a meal or snack, everyone can take a conversation and nutrition break.

Health care

Some adult day centers have health clinics, providing tangible benefits of adult day services; 80% have a nursing professional on site. Clinics may offer medical screenings such as blood pressure checks, medication management, rehabilitation services, and other non-urgent medical care.

Adult day service providers also offer various treatments, like those for arthritis, common injuries, mental health, and sometimes memory care. Other services include diabetes management and heart disease monitoring. So if you’re considering an adult day program for yourself or a loved one, you may want to ask about these types of services.

Time away

The benefits of adult day services extend to caregivers, too. Seniors and caregivers both need time with other people. That might mean family caregivers going to their job, running errands, or taking some deserved rest and relaxation. Perhaps it applies to paid caregivers taking time off. And it’s definitely about seniors enjoying time with others at their life stage.

Saving seniors money and the need to relocate

In May 2021, Genworth’s 2020 Cost of Care survey revealed that the average daily rate (up to eight hours) for adult day services in the U.S. was $74. That’s roughly half the monthly median cost of an assisted living facility.

Between assisted living, adult day services, and the latest assistive technologies (e.g., telemedicine or self-care equipment), older adults can continue living in their familiar homes and delay or even avoid long-term residential care altogether.

We recognize that caring for a loved one at home is seldom easy; in fact, it can be exhausting. But aging in place saves money, keeps families together, and does a lot to preserve an aging family member’s spirit and self-esteem.

Restores an elder’s sense of independence

When you have adequate companionship, it’s easy to forget how important it is to a fulfilled life. But when seniors aging in place live alone or with unfamiliar caregivers, they might become withdrawn and stop wanting to go out and interact with others.

Adult day services can change that by helping them feel valued and respected, despite diminishing health and general frailty. In addition, day services provide vibrant and energizing communities, where stress and worry are eased by professionals who can identify and work with problems and frustrations.

Evaluating adult day services

Once you identify a center that meets your loved one’s needs, an essential next step is visiting the facility. Ask questions of the staff, such as:

  • How long has the center has been operating?
  • What licenses, certifications, and accreditations does it have?
  • What is the ratio of staff to clients?
  • What training do employees receive?
  • What are the days and hours of operation?
  • Are meal and snack services available? Does the facility accommodate different dietary needs?
  • What services are available?
  • What programming options can clients participate in?
  • Are any services are covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or other types of insurance?

When visiting, make your own observations, too. Note:

  • The clients: do they appear engaged and content?
  • Staff: do they appear friendly? Are they spending time with the clients?
  • Cleanliness.

Do your research to find a facility that meets your needs and reap the benefits of adult day services!

Use the Seniors Guide search feature to find adult day services options

Megan Mullen

Megan Mullen is a freelance writer, librarian, and former college professor. Senior life is one of her niches (and a personal interest). Megan enjoys using her writing and research skills to create well-crafted web content and other publications.