How do I chose an assisted living or memory care facility?

Posted on: September 17, 2014 | 0 Comments |

In Chapter 6 of Jamie’s Journey I mentioned that I did not know how to go about finding an assisted living facility for my Mom and that the internet was probably not the best way to make such an important decision. I wanted to explain that and expand upon it as well.

The internet is a great tool for researching options and getting information.  However, nothing will take the place of a tour and knowing what to ask and what to look for.  Here are some critical things to be considered:

1. Many companies that will help you find a place for your loved one at no charge to you are just lead generators.  The issue with that is that these companies will only show properties that are paying them, thus you might miss out on seeing a really great facility. Also, the “care consultants” often do not even live in the same city or state as the facility they are recommending and may not have even seen it.  These folks are not trained care managers and should not be representing themselves as such.  So be very careful utilizing those types of services.

2. There are different types of facilities that can offer different types of care.  This can vary by state. For example:

Independent living – these are typically senior apartments/condos that may have services (beauty shop, activities, transportation, restaurant, etc.) on site but the resident is required to be able to live independently.  Often additional private duty care can be brought in if a person needs a bit more assistance but is not ready to move to the next level of care.

Assisted Living (aka Adult Foster Care) – these facilities offer a variety of services that can vary from property to property.  Typical services are meal preparation, assistance with bathing, dressing, toileting, mobility, feeding, medication management, transportation to appointments.  These facilities may or may not have secured areas that would be appropriate for a dementia resident that wanders.  Pricing can be either a la carte (based on what services are needed) or a flat rate.  Licensing and regulations vary by state and there is no “standard” services offered.

Memory care – many facilities claim to have memory care because that area is secure or “locked”.  The label memory care does not guarantee that staff has had dementia training, activities cater to cognitive impairment or that the environment and design is appropriate for those with dementia.  There is huge variation from facility to facility.  “Nicer” or more expensive does not necessarily mean better care.

Skilled Nursing – skilled nursing is just that, meaning that a trained nurse is required to provide the care.  This is appropriate when someone has a G tube, is recovering from a very serious illness or injury, or needs true medical supervision.  Most people with dementia do not need skilled care but instead need custodial care or non medical supervison.

3. There are many important considerations when choosing a facility.  Obviously you want the place to be clean, not smell and the residents appear to be cared for and happy, but there are many other criteria that matter such as resident to staff ratios, results from prior state surveys, financial stability and discharge criteria.  You also want to consider how appropriate the facility will be as needs increase and dementia progresses.

4. Most facilities will require an assessment of the resident and they will determine what level of care your loved one needs.  This is not always the most accurate or unbiased assessment, especially in dementia cases.

The bottom line is if you are going to make a choice with out some professional assistance, take your time and do your homework.



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Jamie's Journey

In 2007, Jamie Wilson (founder and CEO of Dementia Services Group) began the complicated process of helping her once-independent mother adjust to life with dementia.

Jamie's Journey is deeply personal, but also universal. We hope that her trials and triumphs will shed light on the emotional and logistical issues that come with caring for someone with dementia.

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