The decision to place a loved one in an Alzheimer’s care facility or often known as “Memory Care” can be emotional and heartbreaking. The family faces the task of finding a facility where their loved one will be safe and happy; meanwhile, the patient may be scared and confused by the unfamiliar surroundings. Here are some tips to help you determine if a particular facility is right for your family member.
1. What type of care is needed?
There is a wide variety of care facilities available. Some facilities provide a maximum level of independence while others provide full-time nursing care. It is essential to have a good understanding of your loved one’s current level of functioning to determine the appropriate level of care. This means evaluating SCALF (Specialty Care Assisted Living) or a specific Memory Care Unit in a Long Term Care facility or nursing home. It is likely the patient will require an increased level of care as the disease progresses.
2. Is the location of the facility convenient?
You can visit your loved one more often if the facility is convenient. Frequent visits with familiar people can help in the transition process. A nearby facility also makes it easier for you to monitor the level of care provided.
3. What is the cost of care?
Long-term care is costly and not covered by most private insurance. Medicare only covers skilled care under certain circumstances and for a maximum of 100 days. Medicaid will cover long-term care, but the patient must meet certain income and resource requirements. You should speak with the facility’s financial counselor and your county’s social services department to see what coverage is available for your loved one.
4. Is the facility safe, pleasant, and in good repair?
It is true that you can’t always judge a book by its cover; however, the facility should at least be clean, well-lit, free of obvious safety hazards, and in good overall repair. The facility should also have measures in place to prevent dementia patients from wandering.
5. How does the staff interact with the residents?
You should arrange to spend time observing at the facility. Do both personnel and residents seem happy? Are the residents clean, well-groomed, and treated with respect and dignity? It is a good idea to make random visits at different times of the day, including meal times, to see how the staff handles different situations.
6. What types of activities does the facility provide for the residents?
Alzheimer’s patients have improved orientation and maintain a higher level of cognition longer when provided with a stable routine, structured activities, and opportunities to socialize. You should look for a program offering structured activities as least five days a week.
7. What type of training does the staff receive?
You should look for a facility that offers ongoing, specialized training for any staff dealing with dementia patients. Advanced dementia patients can frequently engage in challenging behaviors. These patients frequently have to be redirected from dangerous or inappropriate behavior and may even become noncompliant and combative. Not every nurse or aide has the skill set or patience to deal with these situations.
8. Does the facility provide ongoing medical care for the residents?
The facility should have a doctor assigned to monitor all residents on a routine basis. You should ask about the facility’s procedure for handling acute illnesses or injuries and specialized care, such as a podiatrist for patients with diabetes. Alzheimer’s patients should also have regular evaluations by a geriatric specialist.
9. How does the facility provide for the comfort of the residents?
Most rooms in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are small and often shared. You should find out the facility’s policy for allowing residents to bring furniture and other personal items. Don’t forget to check out the food as well. Ask to see the weekly menu and try a few meals to ensure they are nutritious and well-balanced. Make sure the facility can accommodate any special dietary needs.
10. Shop around and get feedback from others.
Make sure to do your due diligence and check out as many facilities as possible. Seek out feedback from the family members of other patients and recommendations from your current physician.