Starting an Adult Day Center

For certain populations, it can be difficult to leave the house or have a social life without assistance and support. Many family members become the caretaker of a parent, sibling, or child who doesn’t need the services of a nursing home or inpatient facility but could benefit from the daily attention of trained healthcare specialists. Individuals who might utilize such regular care include older people suffering from the early effects of dementia and younger adults who have mental health problems or have suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

One option for such individuals is an adult day center. These care facilities are open all over the United States, serving hundreds every day. Continue reading to learn more about these helpful facilities, what benefits they provide, and how you could put yourself in a position to start an adult day center.

An adult day center staff member serves lunch.

What Are Adult Day Centers?

Adult day centers are nonresidential care facilities where professionals such as recreational therapists, cognitive therapists, and activities directors provide services for adults with differing physical and mental ability levels. The most common type of adult day center caters to adults with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Day centers also exist for adults with mental health issues, physical disabilities, TBIs, and developmental disabilities.

During a typical day at an adult day center, clients have the opportunity to work with different healthcare specialists, who assist them with daily living skills and general health. They receive nutritious meals and participate in therapeutic group activities run by trained professionals. Adult day centers often provide clients with transportation to and from the facility — a service that is frequently covered by Medicare, meaning without cost to the client. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, there were 4,600 adult day centers operating in 2015 and 2016, with over 250,000 people using them every day.

What Are the Benefits of Adult Day Centers?

Starting an adult day center means offering physical, social, and psychological care for clients. Regular attendance at an adult day center, including exposure to healthcare professionals and a peer group, can make a huge difference in an individual’s life. Here are some of the most common benefits of adult day centers:

Social Interaction

Many people who utilize adult day centers have mobility issues, which means they may have difficulties leaving home. Going to an adult day center gives them the opportunity to interact with others, including people who are of a similar age and ability level. This is vital to one’s overall sense of well-being and social health.


Nutritionists at adult day centers make sure their facilities are serving food that meets the dietary and nutritional needs of the clients. Attending an adult day center ensures individuals receive healthy meals and snacks they might not otherwise get, which can help prevent continued mental or physical decline.

Medication Help

Clients at adult day centers often have to take different types of medication. Patients with physical disabilities might need help taking medications, while patients suffering from dementia or other mental disorders might forget when to take them or which ones to take. Nurses and other professionals at adult day centers can administer medications at the correct time and dose.

Physical Safety

Some adults, such as those with severe mental health issues, need to be in safe environments where they can’t harm themselves or those around them. Health professionals trained in managing such clients are able to ensure the physical safety of clients and their peers.

How to Start an Adult Day Center

Opening an adult day center takes forethought, effort, and the right education, followed by careful planning and execution. It’s not an easy process, but you can make it easier by following these steps:

Earn a Degree

Running an adult day center requires an education that combines healthcare management with an understanding of gerontological and dementia healthcare. For example, Maryville University’s online bachelor’s in healthcare management with a certificate in senior living management prepares students for such a career with courses in healthcare operations, financial management, and healthcare human resources management, as well as gerontology, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, and assisted living housing management.

Scout the Need

Adult day centers serve a population of adults with disabilities or older adults with dementia. Anyone who wants to open one needs to make sure there is a need for these services in the community. Smart entrepreneurs will identify communities that could benefit from this type of facility before they start an adult day center.

Meet Regulations

Almost every state has its own set of regulations regarding opening and operating an adult day center. Adult day center operators must ensure their facilities meet all local, state, and federal regulations, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Find Out How Maryville University Can Help

Starting an adult day center can be a fulfilling, rewarding professional experience that helps underserved populations achieve a high level of health and well-being. Offering a range of benefits, these facilities improve the lives of many in any given community. Discover how Maryville University’s online bachelor’s in healthcare management with a certificate in senior living management mix of business, healthcare, and administrative courses can give you the background necessary to start and successfully run one of these important facilities.

Recommended Reading

Ethical Diligence in Healthcare Administration

Online MHA Career Spotlight: Nursing Home Administrator

Skills Every Health Administrator Should Have


Abramson Center for Jewish Life, Benefits of Adult Day Care

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Adult Day Services Centers

Houston Chronicle, “Is the Adult Day Center Industry Growing in the United States?”

Mayo Clinic, “Adult Day Service: What You Need to Know”

National Adult Day Services Association, About Adult Day Services

National Adult Day Services Association, Opening an Adult Day Center

National Adult Day Services Association, State Regulations

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