Tips for Finding the Right Assisted Living Facility and Home

Many people caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease eventually face the difficult decision of finding an assisted living facility or memory care home for them. It can be hard finding the right assisted living or memory care home.

There are many things to consider, from the cost of care to your loved one's health and safety. As much as possible, do not rush into a decision. Taking time to gather all of the considerations and priorities can help you confidently find the right facility. Below are some tips to help your search and ease the transition for both you and your loved one.

What are the priorities?

It may feel overwhelming to get started with your search. Start by asking yourself the most basic questions:2

  • What does my loved one need?
  • What do I need to feel comfortable with the establishment?

You may even choose to start this conversation after receiving a diagnosis so that your loved one can be a part of the planning and decision-making process.

Much energy is devoted to making a daycare decision for a toddler or a college choice for a young adult. Make the same level of commitment when choosing an assisted living or memory care facility for your loved one with Alzheimer's.2

Narrow down location

When considering the location of memory care facilities, ask yourself - how far is too far? Things to consider include:1,2

  • How often you plan to visit;
  • The distance you are able to travel on a regular basis;
  • Amount of time needed to arrive if an emergency were to arise.

If possible, narrow your search to facilities that are located within your chosen mileage radius.1,2

Scheduled visits and a proper tour

After narrowing your choices, scheduling visits and tours is an important step. This will allow you to get the feel of each place. During your visit, take time to:1,2

  • Eat in the dining room;
  • Meet with the director;
  • Sit in on residential social gatherings and events.

Questions to ask

Do not be afraid to ask questions. Choosing the right place ensures you feel comfortable and confident with where they live and the quality of care your loved one is receiving. Come to your visit with a list of questions that address your concerns and provide you with important details that align with your situation priorities. Dividing your questions into categories may help you. Here are some examples to start your list:1-3

Care and social questions

  • What is the staff-to-resident ratio during the day? Night? How do you make that ratio work?
  • What memory care training does staff undergo? How often do they go through this training? How is their skill set maintained?
  • How are difficult behaviors handled? Here, provide an example of something you have encountered with your loved one (maybe a challenge with bathing or dressing) and ask how they would respond.
  • Can your loved one’s current and future needs be managed here?
  • Can hospice/palliative care come in when needed?
  • Is there an RN/LPN/doctor on staff?
  • How are medical emergencies at night handled?
  • What are natural disaster emergency plans? Fire, hurricane, tornado, flood, etc.
  • Are pets permitted?

Financial questions

  • What do the fees include?
  • Is there an entry fee or deposit required in addition to the regular monthly fees?
  • Are there certain activities/offerings that require extra budgeting? ie. Haircuts, shaves, manicures, snacks, etc.
  • How often does the basic monthly fee change? By how much?
  • What is the difference in cost between care units (if applicable)? For example, moving from more independent care to skilled nursing care if the facility offers both.
  • If a resident has an extended hospitalization, how long is their room held/guaranteed? Are the monthly fees prorated for keeping the room?
  • Will you still need to pay for services they are not using while away? Meals, nursing care, etc.

Drop in unannounced

Having a planned visit and tour of a memory care home is essential. Still, one of the best ways to see the character of a facility is to visit unannounced. Stopping in at different times of the day and night, if possible, both before and after selecting a place for your loved one, gives you the typical view.2

When dropping in, try to connect with family members of already-established residents and gain their views on the facility. The more you observe, the more confident you will feel about making the best choice for your loved one.2

A new home

There is a lot of emotion around moving a loved one to a new environment and making a new home for your loved one. With so many options it can seem like a daunting task to find the right assisted living facility or memory care home. Remember to take it one step at a time, ask questions along the way.

Make a facility "wishlist" for you and your loved one that prioritizes the needs necessary to be comfortable and confident in your choice. Have you transitioned a loved one to an assisted living facility or memory care home? Tell us about your experience in the comments below, or share your story with the community.

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