Adult Daycare or In-home Care?

The difficulties of caring for an aging loved one are well known. Family caregivers can become overtaxed and burned out. It is exhausting to have to juggle medical appointments, meals, grooming, and a host of other tasks for an elderly parent who may also be dealing with loneliness, incapacity, or memory loss. 


At some point there comes a time when you and your parent accept the fact that a solution is needed. You may have ruled out a nursing home because your mother or father is strongly attached to a house that has been well-loved and what they have called home for so long. Your loved one wants to hold onto the comfort of home while retaining as much independence as possible, but you can’t continue to manage the demands of your own job and family as well as cope with the myriad of tasks necessary to maintain someone else’s emotional and physical stability any longer. 

It is generally accepted that at least 20% of family caregivers suffer from depression; this is a rate double that of the regular population. The Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) even conducted a study showing that caring for an elderly person with a disability is “stressful to many family members and contributes to psychiatric morbidity.”

What is the answer?

Two options that will alleviate the situation are Adult Day Care (ADC) and In-Home Care. We have described each and listed differences and similarities below:

Adult Day Care 

Adult daycare gets the elderly person out of the house for the day and gives them a change of scenery. The client will benefit from being with others and taking part in activities. Each facility (there are more than 7,500 adult daycare centers in the United States) is different, so careful research is crucial, but most adult day care businesses offer services such as:

  • Nourishing meals (usually breakfast, lunch, and snacks)
  • Opportunities to forge friendships and spend time with others 
  • Help with personal care (such as grooming and podiatry)
  • Assistance with walking and toileting
  • Music therapy
  • Supervision and reminders to take medication
  • Exercise
  • Transportation services
  • Recreational activities
  • Educational programs (mental stimulation)
  • Arts and crafts
  • Social activities
  • Featured visitors (such as entertainers –or pets)
  • Medical monitoring 

As of 2020, the average daily cost for ADC in the US was $74, although this amount varied widely depending on location. According to Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey, in 2020, adult day care cost an average of $88 per day in Maryland.  

In-home Care

In-home care is exactly what it sounds like: a level of care achieved in the home. 

Home care allows seniors to stay in their homes by providing assistance and compassionate care. Home care services can be tailored to fit the needs of the individual. It can be integrated into the care already provided by family and friends or layered with home health care if there are medical needs.

Caregivers can assist with daily tasks such as:

  • Getting dressed and undressed.
  • Using the toilet.
  • Washing and grooming.
  • Moving from a bed to a wheelchair or getting out of a couch or recliner.
  • Light housework, such as laundry, tidying, or kitchen clean up.
  • Healthy meal preparation and serving. 
  • Driving your parent to medical appointments and other errands.
  • Providing companionship. This can include chatting, doing puzzles, playing games together, or reading aloud.
  • Managing medication routines. Although personal care aides do not administer medications, they do give medication reminders, which can ease the worry of family members who are concerned about seniors coping with organizational failures that come with memory loss.
  • Keeping your parent active to the best of his or her ability.
  • Monitoring your parent for signs of memory loss or depression and other mental health issues. 

The Differences between Adult Day Care and In-Home Care:

  1. Availability
    • Adult day care is usually available during business hours Monday through Friday.
    • Home care is flexible and can be available from as much as 24 hours a day to as little as two hours once or twice a week – making it a great compliment to an adult day care program.
  2. Customization
    • Adult day care generally follows a structure because it offers services to several seniors at the same time.
    • Home care is customizable and flexible because it is created for one person only – your parent.
  3. Cost
    • Home care costs more than adult day care because it has a staffing ratio of one-to-one.
    • Adult day care may provide transportation from home to center and back.
  4. Staff Consistency
    • Adult day cares will have a set of team members that will interact with your loved one.
    • In-home care agencies try to keep the same caregiver for each client as much as possible. If extensive hours are needed, the caregivers tend to alternate shifts, still providing consistency to the client.
      1. On our FAQ page, we answered the question, “Will I always have the same caregiver?” with this reply: Shepherd Staff’s goal is to establish a long-term match between client and caregiver, and to keep the same caregiver with a client as long as the client is satisfied. This is based upon our experience that developing a strong rapport and trust with your caregiver is a vital component to a successful home care experience. In short, we want to avoid a “revolving door” of caregivers. 
  5. Levels of Care
    • Adult day care centers may be able to provide more advanced medical care, such as medication administration, although this varies by facility. 
    • In-home care is non-medical in nature, but caregivers typically are trained in dementia care and in monitoring health changes.
  6. Location of Services
    • Adult day care is at the care center, outside of the home.
    • With in-home care, the care is provided in the home.

Both adult daycare and in-home care can improve the quality of both your parent’s life and your own. The two can even be combined, with your parent spending a couple of days a week at an adult day care facility and enjoying being at home with a caregiver on other days. In both scenarios, your parent will be safe, monitored, and socialized while being able to age with dignity. It’s important to take in your family’s specific needs to determine which choice would be best for you and your loved one.

If you’re looking for adult daycare in Frederick, MD, Daybreak Adult Day Services is a great facility! To learn more about how home care can help your elderly parent navigate independent living, contact Shepherd’s Staff In-home Care online or phone 301-304-9147. 

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