Adult Day Programs

Adult Day Services are programs designed to provide stimulation in a safe environment during the day for adults with physical and mental functional impairment, including individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related memory disorders.   These programs offer an opportunity for social interaction, promote health maintenance, foster independence, provide much-needed respite for family caregivers, or offer family members a safe place for their loved one to stay while they work.

The benefits of Day Centers: 

If you are a full-time caregiver, adult day centers can offer benefits to both you and people with Alzheimer’s, while providing a much needed break.  While the person with Alzheimer’s is at the center, you’ll have time to rest, run errands or finish other tasks.  If you find yourself feeling guilty, ask yourself, “If I wear myself out to the point of total exhaustion, what good will I be to the person with Alzheimer’s?”

If you are a caregiver that works during the day, an adult day center can be very helpful as you try to balance a job with caregiving duties.  Hours of service vary at each center, but some are open from 7 to 10 hours p/day.  Some also may offer weekend and evening hours, and transportation and meals are often provided.

For people with Alzheimer’s and dementia, adult day centers provide a chance to be social and to participate in staffed activities such as music and exercise programs.  Keep in mind that the person with dementia will need time to adjust to the experience of going to the center.  Some people may resist going at first, but they often look forward to the visit after several weeks of attending, meeting people and joining activities.

Day Center Services

The services provided vary depending up on the center.  Common types of services are listed below, as well as questions that may help you determine whether a specific day program fits your family’s needs.  (Keep in mind that few adult day programs offer all of the services described, and not all of the services are necessary for a program to be of high quality.)


Counseling: The center may provide support services for people with Alzheimer’s and their families. For example, they may offer guidance on outside resources and arrange for supportive care in the home.

Nutrition:  Does the center provide nutritious meals and snacks?  Sample a meal to find out.  If needed, ask if the center can accommodate a special diet or provide a culturally specific menu.  Some centers also offer nutritional education programs.

Activities: Daily activities include music, are, recreation, discussion and support groups.  Ask what activities are offered for people with Alzheimer’s.
Therapy: Some centers help arrange for needed physical, occupational or speech therapy.  They may have therapists onsite or on-call. 

Behavior Management:  Find out if the center is prepared to deal with behaviors associated with Alzheimer’s.  The may include wandering, incontinence, hallucinations, sexually inappropriate behavior or speech difficulties. 

Special needs: Make sure the center can accommodate any special needs.  For example, is the center equipped to deal with someone who uses a wheelchair, who is hearing or visually impaired, or who is handicapped in another way?  Knowing about any services restrictions before using a center may help prevent problems. 

Health Services:  If the person with Alzheimer’s requires medical services (i.e. insulin shots, help with medication, etc) be sure to ask if staff provides medical assistance.  Some centers may also provide blood pressure checks and physical, dental, foot, eye or ear examinations. 

Costs:  Many centers offer services on sliding scales, where caregivers pay according to ability or income.  In some states, Medicaid covers cost for people with very low income and few assets.  Be sure to ask about basic fees, financial assistance and additional charges for services as crafts or field trips.

Steps to Selecting Adult Day Services

Call for Information  

Contact several adult day centers and ask for a brochure, a monthly activity calendar, menu, fee schedule and enrollment information.  Speak to other caregivers.

  1. Know What to Ask  

Days and hours of operation? Is transportation available?  How much does it cost?  What is the cost? Are scholarships or a sliding scale available? Number of staff per participant ratio? Does the staff receive specialized dementia training? Other populations served? Are people who wander safely supervised?

2.  Schedule a Visit 

Did you feel welcome? Did someone explain the services and activities?  Were participants involved in activities, and if not, were staff attentive to these individuals? Was the facility clean and pleasant?

3. Try the Program Out 

Select an adult day service center. Try it out for a month. Ask staff for suggestions on how to help your loved one adjust to the new program.  Consider using services at least twice per week for a month before making a final decision.  Occasional use will not give you an accurate picture of how the center operates.

Search Gloria’s Way, for Adult Day Centers.

*Provided by the Alzheimer’s Assocation –

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