Alzheimer disease and other dementia’s take their toll on its victims and their families. Most seniors afflicted with this disease must seek professional care outside the home toward the final years, because the care needs exceed what family members can provide. When considering a memory care community, it helps to know what to look for in a memory care facility.
Unfortunately, there are no consistent standards for memory care communities. We have seen several that offer wonderful care, while others miss the mark. When choosing a facility, it is important to consider the following:
Choose the Correct Type of Facility. What level of care is needed, and what is the rate of decline? Are the limitations physical or cognitive in nature? Assisted Living Facilities, Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly, and Skilled Nursing Facilities are all very different, provide different levels of care, and have significant cost differences.
Meet and Observe the Staff. The team should be well-trained, well-screened (background checks are a must), and they should love their work. Before committing to a facility, “drop by” unannounced. Is there sufficient staff to meet the demands of the residents? Are the staff members engaging the residents, or merely babysitting? .
Facility Physical Accommodations. Dementia patients need to be able to move around freely. Wide unobstructed walkways allow residents to roam without restriction, and protected exit doors prevent unintended and potentially dangerous elopements. The facility should be easy to navigate, with icons and user-friendly visual cues. There should be a visual cue at the entry to each resident’s room to help him find his or her place. Each resident’s room should be personalized, to reduce the “institutional” feel. Photographs and memory boxes can provide happiness and comfort to the patients.
Ability to Meet Needs: Your loved one needs to be safe and secure, and engage in activities to keep him physically fit and as mentally alert as possible. Ask for the activities schedule, and attend a few events to determine whether they are enjoyable to the residents.
Financial Considerations. Memory care in Assisted Living facitilites usually cost more than independent senior communities, but less than Skiled Nursing Facilities. Assisted Living facilities DO NOT accept Medicare or Medi-Cal for payment – the resident must utilize their savings as it often exceeds income. Skilled nursing facilities typically accept Medi-Cal, however, qualifying often requires a “plan of action” to ensure the asset are protected.
California has very unique Medi-Cal requirements. Accordingly, you should talk with an elder law attorney to ensure you are making correct choices, getting the appropriate care, and protecting assets to the greatest extent possible.
Alzheimers.net. “Questions to Ask When Exploring Memory Care Options.” (accessed September 6, 2017) http://www.alzheimers.net/2014-04-24/questions-to-ask-about-memory-care/
AgingCare.com. “Questions to Ask When Choosing a Memory Care Facility.” (accessed September 6, 2017) https://www.agingcare.com/articles/questions-to-ask-when-choosing-a-memory-care-facility-190140.htm
Kiplinger. “How to Choose a Memory Care Unit.” (accessed September 6, 2017) http://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T027-C000-S004-how-to-choose-a-memory-care-unit.html