Mar 6, 2017

How to Choose a Memory Care or Assisted Living Facility for Your Loved One

Before selecting a memory care facility, assisted living home, or nursing home specializing in memory care you should consider all of the items listed below.


The comprehensive list of questions below are designed to help you when you are searching for a memory care facility or nursing home.

If you don't do it for a living, it can be difficult to know what questions to ask when you are looking for a suitable assisted living community or residential care home for your loved one.


The comprehensive list of questions below are designed to help you when you are searching for a memory care facility or nursing home. The list is based on more than 20 years of experience when helping others in this endeavor.


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By Carole B. Larkin
Alzheimer's Reading Room

The following will help you ask the right questions and gather the evidence you need to make a well informed decision when selecting a care facility for your loved one.

Try and keep this age old English idiom in mind,

 "don't judge a book by its cover".

Philosophy and Goals of the Care Facility


1. Facility encourages resident independence and functioning.

2. Ensures dignity and individual expression.

3. Ensures resident safety.

4. Provides peace of mind.

5. Reduces confusion and agitation.

6. Minimizes the use of chemical restraints (medications to control behavior.)

7. Promotes family involvement.


Individualized Care Plan


1. Uses a comprehensive assessment questionnaire to address the resident's current and changing needs.

2. Creates a personalized plan of care for each resident.

3. The planning process involves resident, family, and physician( if needed).

4. Regularly reassesses the needs of the patient.


Things you need to know about Staffing


1. Has a full-time program director for memory care in assisted livings.

2.  Staff (including care aides) well educated in Alzheimer’s disease process and care techniques.

3.  Requires ongoing specialized staff training and education.

4.  Has high staff-to-resident ratios on all three shifts (preferred: under 8:1 under the day shift in assisted livings; and, under 4:1 in residential care homes).


5.  Seems attentive to the residents while you are visiting (not ignoring them)

6.  Has a consulting medical director, and other specialties as needed for the residents.

7.  Uses an nterdisciplinary team approach.

8. Has A licensed nurse on the premises a minimum of 8 hours a day for assisted livings and on call for residential care homes.

How to Get Answers To Your Questions About Alzheimer's and Dementia Care

Structured Programming


1. Has individually tailored activities scheduled seven days a week (minimum 6 per day except Sunday for assisted living; and, a minimum 4 per day for residential care homes).

2. Activities are focused on resident's strengths and preferences (thing they can and like to do).

3. Active and passive programs from life skills to exercise, music, art, current events, and social activities.

4. Offers short, flexible and success-oriented activities.

5. Offers large group, small group and one-on-one activities.


The Care Facility Environment


1. Self-contained, secure, cheerful yet calm atmosphere.

2. Enclosed courtyard/backyard.

3. Dedicated dining, activity and private areas.

4. Uncomplicated floor plan and visual cues to help residents stay oriented.

5. Easily accessible bathrooms in common activity area.

6. Simplified, soothing and homelike atmosphere.

7. Meets all city, State and county health codes, and has certificate showing it is valid this year.

8. Is clean and smells good ( does not smell of urine anywhere in the building.

9. Is licensed by the state as either an assisted living or as a residential care home, and the license is current for this year.


Do the Current Residents Seem


1. Engaged in activities.

2. Appear to b ecomfortable.

3. Well-groomed.

4. Settled and well adjusted.

5. Generally accepting of the staff.


What Family Services are Available?


1. Offers family support group meetings for assisted livings.

2. Offers ongoing education, support and counseling.

3. Offers family conferences and involvement in care planning.

4. Offers and encourages opportunities for families to socialize.


Dining and Nutrition


1. Individually tailored food and nutrition plans created to individual's needs and capabilities.


2. Modified menus (diabetic, low salt,etc.).

3. Between-meal snacks and drinks.

4. Innovative food presentation techniques that ease and encourage eating.

5. Special adaptive utensils available if needed.

6. Family is welcome to eat with resident (may be an extra charge for family member)

Carole Larkin MA, CMC, CAEd, DCP, QDCS, EICS is an expert in Alzheimer’s and related Dementias care. She also is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager who specializes in helping families with Alzheimer’s and related dementias issues. Carole can consults with families via telephone nationwide on problems related to the dementia. Her company, ThirdAge Services LLC, is located in Dallas, TX.

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