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Selecting an Adult Day Care Facility
Tips for Choosing Adult Day Care

Guide to Choosing Adult Day Care

Selecting an adult day care center for an aging parent or disabled relative takes a different set of qualifiers than looking for a nanny or day care for a child.

Some states but not all regulate adult day care centers. However, states do regulate all medical facilities either by local city, state or federal governments,

With adult day care, all states issue guidelines for specific things:

  • Number of people allowed in the facility
  • Types of care given
  • Staff Licensing
  • Staff training
  • Business permits and licensing

For facilities that deliver medical and health services, stricter regulations apply.

Selecting an Adult Day Care Facility

Adult day centers offer planned programs for aging and disabled adults who require some health care services, social and support services. The day care center provides a protective environment during daytime hours.

Find a local Adult Day Care Center - Our adult day care directory contains over 4,500 adult day care centers in the United States. We have compiled the list of adult day care locations from various state and local sources. Some states have specific licenses and certification requirements for adult day care centers while others do not. We recommend researching and visiting the adult day care centers in your area to determine if they offer the appropriate services you need.

Questions to Ask During a Tour

Selecting an adult day care

Here are a few things to ask when searching for a local adult day care center in your community, these give you a feel for the overall center and services it provides:

  • Is it a safe, secure environment?
  • What social activities do they offer?
  • Is assistance with daily living skills like walking, eating, taking medications, and bathing given?
  • What therapies are provided if a day health center, like physical, speech, occupational, and nursing?
  • Is health monitoring - blood pressure, blood sugar levels, food/liquid intake, and weight taken?
  • Are nutritious meals and snacks given?
  • What are the planned fitness and exercise programs?
  • Does the center offer specialized care for dementia?
  • Who is the owner or sponsoring agency?
  • How many years in operation?
  • Are they licensed or certified?
  • What are the hours of operation?
  • What days are they open?
  • Is there door to door transportation?
  • What is the menu?
  • Is the facility cheerful?
  • Is the staff friendly?
  • What services and activities do they offer?
  • What is the cost?
  • What's expected of caregivers?
  • What are their hours of operation?
  • Is the facility clean and odor free?
  • Do volunteers help?
  • Are participants involved in planning activities or making other suggestions?
  • Is the facility wheelchair accessible?
  • What is the staff/participant ratio?
  • What are the credentials of the staff?
  • Are they certified?

Licensing and Certification

Check with the state to find out the mandated requirements. Here are few of what most states require:

  • State regulations and certification of facility
  • Staff per participant
  • License requirements of staff
  • Certification of Nurse Aides
  • Violations of staff or day care center
  • Background checks
  • Hiring procedures
  • Staff training
  • Drug testing of staff
  • Fire and safety inspections
  • Kitchen inspections
  • Code violations

Check (National Association of Adult Day Care) website for your state regs for Adult day care.


Safe and Secure in Day Care
Safe and Secure in Day Care

Security is one of the center's top priorities. When you look for a daycare center:

  • Check to see that the building is clean and well maintained
  • Kitchen areas clean
  • Steps marked with caution strips
  • Railings be reinforced
  • Floors free of trip hazards and covered with a non-slip surface - (Falls are one of the leading threats to seniors)
  • Check their emergency procedures
  • Check to find out if staff receive training on emergency procedures


  • Request a copy of a week's menu for the meals.
  • Do they provide for special diet?
  • Are low sodium meals served?
  • Are meals diabetic-friendly?
  • Kosher or vegetarian meals?
  • Make sure the meals meet nutritional requirements and look appetizing.

Other Things to Do

  • Ask for a referral from your loved one's health care team.
  • Narrow your choices down to local facilities that meet the needs of your loved one.
  • Discuss day care options with your loved one and other family members.
  • Get everyone's buy-in, if you can.
  • Check with current and past participants and their family members for a reference.
  • Visit your selected daycare centers.
  • Try it out.
  • Select a day center and give it a try for a few days.
  • Find out which centers your loved one enjoys most.
  • Ask the staff for help with making a change, especially for the loved one.
  • Get on the waiting list, if one exists.

The National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA) recommends you start by asking yourself what specific services both the senior adult and the caregiver need most.

For the day care participant:

  • Are social activities primary?
  • Assistance with walking, eating or medications?
  • Mental stimulation?
  • Exercise?

As a caregiver:

  • Is support what you need most?
  • Some free time?
  • Help with transportation?

Answering these questions will help you determine which of the three top types of adult day care centers (social, health-focused, and Alzheimer's/dementia oriented) will best serve you and the family member.

Resources for You When Selecting a Day Care for an Adult

Contact your local Area Agency on Aging (800-677-1116)

Contact your state's Adult Day Services Association

Ask at a local senior center or organization serving persons with developmental disabilities (as applicable)

Use a search engine to locate a day care facility online

Carol Marak
Carol Marak

After seven years of helping her aging parents, Carol Marak has become a dedicated senior care writer. Since 2007, she has been doing the research to find answers to common concerns: housing, aging and health, staying safe and independent, and planning long-term.