Increase in adult day centers a good sign for long-term care

With a 35% increase in the number of U.S. adult day care centers from 2002 to today (per a MetLife study produced in collaboration with the National Adult Day Services Association and The Ohio State University College of Social Work), it seems that the long-term care field is finally addressing this service.

Few assisted living homes have programs in place for adult day care and often lack the space and parking needed to facilitate the service, even if the home desired to have a program.

The benefits of adult day care are very similar to child care as they allow family caregivers the ability to stay in the workforce or have respite. Seniors at an adult day care center typically get dropped off by 6:30 a.m. and should be picked up by 6:00 p.m. Meals are served and assistance with daily living activities is provided.

Memory activities are a large part of the daily programming in adult day care centers along with crafts and exercise. I know that if I was worried about my mom turning on the stove and forgetting to turn it off while I was at work, I would love to have the option for her to be with other seniors doing great activities instead of watching TV for nine hours straight. At the age of 42 and a far cry away from retiring and being able to stay at home during the day with her, this decision could be upon me sooner rather than later.

Private-pay centers are starting to emerge in the arena and will help to increase the amount of options and create competition. Spaces range in size and codes vary by site but the MetLife study cites 1000-5000 square feet as the averages needed for adult day care. The study also concludes that adult day care is one of the emerging transitional care options that complement short-term rehab and home health.

From a design standpoint, the stress of adding seniors in an adult day care program to an existing assisted living is relatively low with the exception of working through the logistics of drop off and pick up. The benefits are tremendous as the spaces are already built and this is a great way to introduce younger seniors to the home. Staffing ratios are typically 1:6 in adult day care and rates hover just under $70 a day.

Designers need to start the dialog with their clients to see how these services can be added to existing buildings or included in new builds with the least impact to the plan. The most exciting aspect is that fitness, beauty salon, activities, etc., could be used during most of the day instead of sporadically, adding energy to the space, staff, and residents.

Click here to read the full MetLife study in PDF format.

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