Alzheimer's Disease and other Dementias

How to Find the Best Alzheimer’s or Dementia Care For Your Loved One

If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia and can’t live alone, finding the best long-term care for him or her may seem overwhelming. To make the most informed decision for your family member, read on for tips on touring facilities and questions to ask.

Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia

If your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s (a type of dementia), talk to a doctor to help determine the level of care needed and how the disease may progress. If you suspect your family member is experiencing something more than age-related forgetfulness, recognize the early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s, such as repeatedly asking the same questions or difficulty performing normal daily activities. Schedule a doctor’s appointment for an accurate diagnosis.

Family Matters

If more than one family member is involved in deciding which facility is best, schedule a family meeting. Before touring facilities, discuss these questions:

  • What are your expectations for the level of care to be provided?
  • Will you look at nursing homes, assisted living facilities, or both?
  • How important is location?
  • What is your budget?

Touring A Facility

As you tour a facility, consider these criteria. After a scheduled tour, make an unannounced visit to the facility at a busy time, such as dinner or during a scheduled activity.

  • Is there a dedicated and separate area for Alzheimer’s and dementia residents?
  • Does the facility offer dual or multiple programs in case a resident’s disease progresses and they require more care?
  • Does the facility provide rehabilitation and therapy services?
  • Do the activities offered include physical and cognitive activities particularly beneficial for dementia patients? Is each resident provided with a personal calendar featuring activities that appeal to their strengths?
  • How noisy is the facility? Is it free of alarming sounds?
  • Is the facility clean and well kept?
  • Is the dining facility comfortably spacious?
  • Are there specially designated areas for family and friends to visit with their loved ones?
  • How secure is the facility in order to prevent wandering?

Questions for the Facility Director

  • Are the caregivers specially trained in dealing with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients? Is their education on-going? Ask about staff turn-over.
  • Should the family supply a medical and familial history of your loved one for the staff to use for customized care?
  • What type of medical care is provided? For example, is there a licensed nurse on site?
  • How are medical needs handled, from taking medications to maintaining hydration to evaluating pain?
  • Do they offer spiritual support, such as church services or spiritual counseling?
  • Is transportation to doctors’ appointments provided?
  • What is the role of the caregiver in the daily life of a resident? For example, do they help residents with their meals if necessary or assist them with personal hygiene?
  • What is the ratio of residents to staff during the day and evening?
  • Are residents taken outside on a daily basis?
  • Does the facility offer social outings?
  • Ask for references or a recent state survey based on services provided by the facility.

Choosing the best place for your loved one to live is important. Many factors, such as types of programs, qualified staff, cost, and location factor into the decision-making process. By doing through research and sticking to your gut you’ll be able to find the right care facility for your family member.

Anna Horn works on outreach for Providence Place, an independent living and personal care community in central Pennsylvania. Providence Place simplifies retirement living and provides the right amount of care for several life stages.


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