Veterans who want to remain at home during their senior years will often need some assistance to live independently. Many times the care is provided by family members or professional caregivers. Another option is adult day care.
An adult day care center is a place where seniors can go during the day to socialize, participate in recreational activities and receive services tailored to their specific needs. It is a safe and supervised environment for aging adults, including individuals with physical disabilities or mental impairments.
Applicants are usually evaluated before being admitted to ensure the center can provide the help they need. Most centers are open Monday through Friday during regular business hours. Some facilities also provide services in the evening and on weekends.
Types of Adult Day Care Centers
There are three basic types of adult day care centers: social, health and specialized care.
Social adult day care centers, also called adult day services, provide social and recreational activities like board and card games, arts and crafts, cooking, local outings, music, dancing, yoga and other types of exercise, gardening, and educational programs.
Health care centers provide a combination of social activities and health services, including physical, occupational and speech therapies, assistance with daily living activities; help with medical equipment, medication administration and health monitoring. Adult day health care centers are staffed with licensed medical professionals.
Specialized adult day care centers focus on meeting the needs of individuals with specific health issues such as developmental disabilities and cognitive impairment. Center activities and programs are tailored to the abilities of program participants.
In addition to activities and programs, almost all centers provide meals and snacks. Some also have transportation services.
Ownership, Management & Staff
There are approximately 5,000 adult day care centers nationwide that provide care for more than 200,000 adults. Most adult day care centers are run by non-profits, some are managed by public agencies and the rest are owned by businesses and private individuals. States generally require adult day care centers to have some form of licensing, certification, or a combination of both. There are often minimum requirements regarding the ratio of staff to program participants.
Types of staff that can be found at an adult day care center include administrative personnel, personal aides (caregivers), nursing assistants, social workers, activity specialists and volunteers. Licensed medical staff are not required unless the center provides health services.
The Cost of Adult Day Care
There are several factors that influence the cost of an adult day care, including ownership, location and the services that are provided. Some states have rates as low as $20 per day, while others charge over $100. The median rate is between $50 – $60 per day. There are also centers that charge by the hour or half day. In 2015, the national average cost of adult day health care (weekdays only) was $1,492 per month (Genworth 2016).
Finding an Adult Day Care Center
Before you begin your search for an adult day care center, decide what type of center and services will best meet your needs. Use online resources like yellowpages.com, yelp.com and nasda.org (National Adult Day Services Association) to find centers in your area, in addition to checking with local organizations that specialize in senior care.
When you contact a center, find out who owns the facility, how long it’s been in operation and if it’s licensed or certified. Also ask about:
- Hours of operation
- Participant requirements
- Programs, services and activities
- Staff training and credentials
- Staff-to-participant ratio
- Deposit requirements
- Cancellation and refund policies
- The cost of additional services
- The availability of scholarships, discounts or other financial aid
Before making a final decision, conduct your own on-site assessment. Talk to the staff and observe the environment to ensure the center meets your standards.
Paying for an Adult Day Care Center
Approximately one-third of adult day care center participants pay out-of-pocket for the services they receive. Other ways to cover the cost of adult day care include private insurance, Medicaid/Medi-Cal and VA benefits.
Certain types of private medical insurance, including long-term care insurance policies, provide coverage for adult day care. Another way to fund adult day care is by selling a life insurance policy.
Medicaid Adult Day Care
Most states have a Medicaid Home and Community Based Waiver program that can help pay for adult day care. Medicaid waivers are for low-income individuals with limited financial resources. Like all Medicaid programs, requirements vary by state. You may be put on a waiting list for the benefit due to enrollment caps. Some Medicaid state plans cover adult day care as well, but with more stringent financial requirements.
VA Benefits for Adult Day Care
Veterans enrolled in the VA health care system may be eligible for adult day health care services if they have a medical need for the service and it is available. The VA may request a co-pay based on the veteran’s service-connected disability status and financial situation.
Aid & Attendance is another VA benefit that can be used to pay for adult day care, including adult day health care and specialized care. You do not need to be enrolled in the VA health care system to apply for this tax-free pension.
Aid & Attendance pays up to $2,846 per month for qualified veterans and their surviving spouses who need help with some of the activities of daily living. The benefit is a reimbursement for home care, adult day care, board and care, assisted living and skilled nursing care. To qualify for the benefit, the veteran must have served at least 90 days of active duty, with at least one day during an eligible period of war. Both the veteran and spouse also meet income and countable asset criteria, along with several other requirements established by the VA.
Are you a veteran or surviving spouse who needs financial assistance to pay for adult day care? Contact an American Veterans Aid benefit consultant today to find out more about the Aid & Attendance pension.