How to Select a Memory Care Community (Checklist)

Feb-10-2015

In the U.S. alone, someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease every 67 seconds, and there are currently more than 5 million Americans living with this disease according to the Alzheimer's Association. Having a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer's or dementia is not only devastating, but can also become very stressful. You can't always do it alone. As you begin looking for a community that can assist you as you care for your loved one, here is a list of things you should consider.

Selecting a Memory Care Facility Checklist

The first, and most important, thing you need to think about is the needs of your loved one. Any memory care community that you choose needs to be able to address the specific requirements unique to your loved one, and provide the highest quality of care with compassion. Start by first creating a list of your loved one's unique needs. A few things to think about include:

Mobility

  • Can your loved one walk independently, or do they require a walker, wheelchair or scooter?

Behavior

  • Does your loved one show signs of aggression, confusion, repetition, wandering, depression or suspicion?

Assistance

  • Do they need help with eating, bathing, toileting, incontinence issues or specific medical care like diabetes or dialysis?

  • Do they have a tendency to wander away?

  • Do they require 24/7 medical care?

Now that you have determined what type of care your loved one needs, you can begin to research and tour different memory care facilities. It's important to consider the atmosphere, care team, other residents, programming available to residents, finances and location as you learn more about different places. Here are questions to ask and things to keep in mind as you make your decision:

Memory Care Atmosphere

  • Is the building easy to navigate with ways for residents to locate where they are? This is especially important if your loved one can become easily confused.

  • Will your loved one have enough privacy for hygiene such as bathing and toileting? Transitioning into a memory care community comes with adjustments to privacy.

  • Is all the furniture well maintained? Look for any stains due to spilling or incontinence.

  • Do all outside doors lock or are they alarmed for safety reasons? This will help keep your loved ones from wandering too far.

  • Are the grounds as a whole secure? Even if there are outdoor areas, it's important to know that the property is completely secure.

  • Is there any outdoor walking or wandering areas that are enclosed? Outdoor areas promote independence and memory recall while reducing aggression and irritation.

  • Are the residents put together by level of dementia or cognitive abilities?

  • Does the indoor space allow for freedom and independence?

  • Will your loved one be permitted to bring personal items with them? These can include things like photographs, personal bedding, a chair or other items.

  • Is the food appetizing and does the dining room have a pleasant atmosphere?

  • Will family and friends be able to join their loved one for meals?

  • Can your loved one's special dietary restrictions be met?

The Memory Care Team

  • Are all members of the care team licensed to an appropriate degree (RN or LPN for higher-up personnel)?

  • Does the care team receive special training on how to manage Alzheimer's or dementia patients?

  • How often is the care team re-trained?

  • Does the staff wear uniforms and name tags to differentiate them from visitors?

  • Does the staff maintain the resident's dignity and respect during interactions? This includes using a positive, non-condescending tone when speaking, using language that does not embarrass the residents such as saying, "special underwear" instead of "diaper" and other correct communication.

  • What is the resident-staff ratio during the day and at night?

  • Is there a nurse on duty 24 hours a day?

  • Are there medical services available on site?

  • Can medical care come in from the outside?

  • How are medical emergencies handled?

  • Are there any types of therapy offered? This can include pet therapy, recreational therapy, music therapy, reminiscence therapy, light therapy or others. 

  • Will the care team inform the family of any changes in your loved one? As problems arise, and conditions change, it's important that you are informed of any changes to your loved one and their care.

  • Is there transportation to offsite medical appointments available? This is especially important if you loved one should no longer be driving.

  • What situations or conditions would lead to discharge?

The Memory Care Residents

  • Do the residents engage in community involvement? This can include helping to set up for dinner by folding napkins, setting tables and other tasks.

  • Are the other residents well-groomed? This is an indication that the staff cares about hygiene. It can include things like brushed hair, no odors, clean-shaven and matching clothes.

  • Do the other residents appear to have a similar level of dementia as your loved one? Some memory care facilities only care for a particular stage of Alzheimer's.

Financial Considerations

  • What is the cost of this medical care community?

  • Does your loved one have the means to pay for this community?

  • How long can your loved one afford to live here?

The Location

  • Is the location close enough that friends and family can regularly visit?

  • If there is an emergency, are you close enough that you can be there in a short period?

Premium Memory Care Support at Pine Crest

Choosing a memory care community for your loved one can be a stressful task. Pine Crest is the only true memory support program in East Texas. It provides a unique space that caters to the needs and tendencies of individuals with Alzheimer's and dementia that doesn't conform to what's "normal". It offers outdoor exploration in its secure Memory Garden, as well as memory games and activities to allow your loved one to live the highest quality of life possible.

Learn more about Pine Crest's Memory Support in the Methodist Retirement Communities and the difference it can make for your loved one today!