Elderly Day Care: A Valuable Resource for Seniors and Their Caregivers

Hospice CareElderly day care centers provide a safe, supportive group environment for seniors who need care and/or assistance with personal tasks during the day. Day programs for seniors are usually staffed by a nurse, a geriatric recreation specialist and a number of personal support workers.

These centers provide relief to caregivers and family members who are caring for an elderly loved one in their home, as well as offering the senior a chance to get out of the house, socialize and participate in fun activities with others. There are more than 4,500 elderly day care centers currently operating across the country, three-quarters of which are nonprofit and/or public.

Who Attends Elderly Day Care?

Generally men and women aged 65 and older are eligible to attend elderly day care. According to the National Adult Day Services Association, the average participant in senior day programming is 72 years old, and usually lives with a spouse, adult children or other friends or family members.

Approximately half of all participants in elderly day care have some type of cognitive impairment such as memory loss, and many of these seniors need support with activities of daily living such as personal hygiene and meal preparation.

Where Are Elderly Day Care Centers Located?

Elder day care programs are typically located in nursing homes, community or senior centers, hospitals, schools and churches. Other locations include centers in shopping plazas, rehabilitation centers and private homes.

Day programs usually operate Monday through Friday during the day. However, some facilities may offer evening, holiday and weekend programming to accommodate caregiver schedules.

What Types Of Services Are Provided?

Depending on the location, the following elderly day care services may be included:

  • transportation to and from the center.
  • snacks and meals during the day.
  • physiotherapy services, including help with rehabilitation programming.
  • personal care support, such as personal hygiene and grooming.
  • medication monitoring and administration.
  • social activities, including organized groups and outings.
  • supervision of seniors who may wander, such as those with memory impairments.

What Are The Benefits Of Elderly Day Care?

When it comes to elderly day care, everyone reaps the benefits. These facilities allow participants to leave the comfort of their own home for unthreatening, sheltered and supervised surroundings. Once there, seniors can take advantage of a variety of fun and educational activities designed to improve their mental and physical health.

Elderly day care activities include:

  • arts and crafts
  • sing-alongs or storytelling
  • bingo, cards or other mentally challenging games
  • “sittercise” (stretching exercises performed while sitting)
  • discussion groups
  • field trips
  • holiday celebrations

Staff administer medications, help individuals improve or preserve their degree of independence, provide physical and speech therapy, and assist with performing activities of daily living. Only individuals who are continent and ambulatory are allowed to participate. Canes, walkers and wheelchairs are permitted.

Equally important, elderly day care centers accord caregivers a welcome break from the stress of what oftentimes is a round-the-clock job. Just a few hours away from constantly caring for a family member can re-energize a person. Caregivers can enjoy some time for themselves without feeling guilty while recharging their physical and emotional batteries.

How Is The Cost Of Elderly Day Care?

According to the Genworth 2015 Cost of Care Survey, the national median daily rate of elderly day care is $69/day or $17,904/year, a nearly six percent increase from 2014. Most elderly day care centers provide transportation. Fifty percent of those facilities do so at no cost, while others may charge per trip or by total miles. Meals often are included and the majority of them have full-time nursing services on site.

The states with the most expensive daily median elderly day care costs are:

  1. Vermont – $124
  2. Alaska – $122
  3. Idaho – $116
  4. Maine – $108
  5. New Mexico – $99

The states with the least expensive daily median elderly day care costs are:

  1. Mississippi – $35
  2. Texas – $35
  3. Alabama – $36
  4. Wyoming – $50
  5. North Carolina – $51
*From the Genworth Financial 2015 Cost of Care Survey.

To find the cost of elderly day care in your state, visit our Elderly Day Care Costs page.

Many centers employ a sliding fee scale, which adjusts payment based on a family’s income and their ability to pay. Elderly day care care costs are not covered by Medicare. Medicaid, however, will cover most—if not all—of the expenses for licensed adult healthcare settings and Alzheimer’s-related programs for families with limited incomes and assets.

In some cases, private medical insurance policies will pay part of the costs when licensed medical professionals are on staff. Other payment options include long-term care insurance, dependent-care tax credits, scholarships and financial assistance, such as through the Older Americans Act and the Veterans Administration.

Resources for Elderly Day Care

For more information on elderly day care centers visit these websites:

Written by senior housing staff writer.

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