7 Steps to Choosing an Adult Day Center

Adult day centers are places that provide planned programs that include a variety of health, social and support services in a protective setting during daytime hours.  It’s a great move for adults to begin attending an adult day center while they can fully enjoy the activities and company of others. As their abilities and needs change with time, they began to get familiar with the setting and feel comforted and cared for.


We suggest beginning use of an adult day center, when a prospective person comes to a stage where he/she needs supervision and:

  • can no longer structure his or her own daily activities.
  • finds it difficult to initiate and focus on an activity, e.g., reading, conversation, watching television.
  • is isolated and lonely or desires peer interaction.
  • cannot be safely left alone.
  • lives with someone who works and is away from the home most of the day.
  • is anxious or depressed and needs social and emotional support.
  • feels uncertain and anxious when left alone.
  • requires attention that leads to your own anxiety, frustration, compromised health and/or depression.


Below is a 7-step pathway for choosing the right adult day center for you or your loved one.

Step 1 – Mapping your needs.

What do you, the caregiver need?

  • Occasional free time
  • Coverage while working
  • Transportation for your loved one
  • Assistance in planning care

Here is a list of specific services that are important to the person using the center in general.

  • A safe, secure environment
  • Social activities
  • Assistance with daily living skills – walking, eating, taking medications, bathing.
  • Therapies – physical, speech, occupational, nursing
  • Health monitoring – blood pressure, blood sugar levels, food/liquid intake, weight
  • Nutritious meals and/or snacks. Special diet.
  • Exercise programming
  • Specialized care such as dementia care or TBI care


Step 2 – Locate an adult day center.

  • Search centers in NADSA’s database by street address and zip code
  • 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 center and review center websites.

Step 3 – Make an appointment to visit the center(s)

Step 4 – Know what to ask during your visit.

Step 5 – Check references

  • Talk to two or three people who have used the center you are considering. Ask for their opinion.

Step 6 – Try it out.

  • Select a day center and give it a try for a few days.
  • Keep in mind that it often takes several visits for a new participant to feel comfortable in a new setting and routine. Staff may have suggestions for making the transition easier both at home and at the center.

Step 7 – Take care of yourself.

  • Relax knowing your loved one is being well cared for. Always feel free to check in with the center and ask questions. They are there to help you!