“When you are taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s, at some point in time, you know little things are going to start getting worse,” says Garry, the husband of a memory care resident at Villa at Terracina, a memory care community in Naples, Florida. “For me, one of those was the first time she wandered. So, I had to make that decision, the hardest decision of my life.”
While wandering is just one example, there are many factors that determine when to begin the search for a memory care community. When making the important decision of where to place a loved one, you’ll want to visit different communities to determine which are the best candidates for your situation.
Once you have a list of top choices — three to five is recommended, it can help to have a standard set of questions that you ask at each of the locations. Take the list with you and make notes during your visits. This will give you a foundation for comparing your options based on the same criteria.
Questions to Ask
- Do you offer care for early, mid- or advanced stages of memory loss?
- Are rooms private or semi-private?
- What is the patient-to-staff ratio? How much personalized attention can a resident expect to get?
- What type of training does the staff have — not only the nursing staff but aides as well?
- What staff is on-site overnight?
- How is the community secured?
- Are there special services available like a barber or beauty shop?
- Is physical or occupational therapy available if needed?
- What are the meal options? Are there provisions for special dietary requests (kosher or vegetarian, for example) or for medically-prescribed diets?
- What housekeeping and laundry services are available, and how often are they provided?
- What social, entertainment, and recreational activities are offered?
- Are there specific groupings of residents — for example, by age, gender, or cognitive level?
- Are there specific visiting hours or rules?
- How often does the staff communicate with the family about resident’s care? Who on the staff is responsible for that communication, and what form does it take (phone, email, in-person care meetings)?
- What is included in the base costs and what services are a la carte?