How to Choose an Adult Daycare Provider

A Checklist of Questions to Ask

Each state defines adult daycare slightly different, but all agree that its care that uses social and health activities for elderly patients with functional impairments for less than 24 hours per day. There are 2 basic types of adult day care. First, care that offers basic health services including meals and activities. Second, adult day health care provides more advanced healthcare to people who would otherwise need a skilled nursing facility. Each has different requirements. If you’re not able to take care of a loved one on your own but don’t want them in a full-time care facility, how do you choose an adult daycare provider?

State Regulations

Most states require licensure, certification, or both. To find the requirements in your state, check out the website. Some states have requirements concerning the administration of medication, certain training for staff, and a mandate for certain services. In Florida, transportation is required for certain adult daycare facilities, for example.

There’s also a worker to participant ratio that differs by state. The average is 1 worker for every 6 participants but that also will differ by state. Before researching providers in your area, become familiar with your state’s requirements.

Basic Safety

Left unattended, your loved one is a safety hazard to themselves and possibly to others. An adult daycare provider should prove that safety is a top priority and show evidence that the facility is built and maintained with safety in mind. Look for:

  • General cleanliness- The building should be well-maintained, clean, and free of offensive odors. This includes the kitchen area as well. Do the participants look clean?
  • Steps and other unmovable trip hazards marked with caution strips
  • Floors free of trip hazards and made of or covered with a non-slip surface.

Also ask to see emergency procedures and ask providers if they were trained on those emergency procedures.

Meals and Nutrition

You’ve likely heard horror stories of the elderly eating or being fed less than appropriate meals either to cut costs or because they have some form of dementia. You shouldn’t be worried about deplorable feeding practices in most cases but the provider should give you a copy of the week’s menu.

Ask them how they accommodate special diets like diabetic-friendly meals, low sodium diets, vegetarian or kosher meals, and food for residents who are picky eaters. Overall, are you seeing meals that are nutritious and look appetizing?


Because Medicare doesn’t provide funding for adult day care, price becomes a concern. Medicaid state plans may cover the costs and there may be grants and scholarships available to cover the cost through individual state funds. Find the agency responsible for funding assistance .

First, ask about the cost. The average daily rate is $70 per day but states like Alaska charge an average of $168 per day and Vermont, $132. Cheaper states include Alabama at an average of $26 per day and Texas at $35. Next, ask the adult daycare about any funding assistance available.

Other Questions to Ask

  • Is transportation available and is there an additional charge?
  • Can participants request activities or is there a set schedule? Are the selected activities enjoyable for your loved one?
  • Does the facility’s hours of operation fit your schedule?
  • Are there hidden charges for meals, arts and crafts, or outings? If so, how much?
  • Is there a minimum weekly commitment? If so, how many days or hours?
  • What are policies around late arrival or early pickup?
  • Are there support groups or other programs for caregivers especially if the patient is an Alzheimer’s patient or somebody with a challenging condition?
  • Are there other benefits on site such as blood pressure screening, immunizations, hair styling, or dental? (Even at a cost, these are time savers for caregivers.)

Next Steps

Once all of your questions are answered, and you’ve presented all information to concerned family members, give the provider a try. Maybe pay for 2 to 5 days of care at one or more of the centers that you consider to be the finalists. Assuming all items above are acceptable, ask your elderly loved one which facility they liked the most.

The happier they are, the easier your life as a caregiver will likely be.