Alzheimer’s Disease is a devastating disease, not only for the person afflicted, but also for the family who is losing a loved one day by day. My father was a very successful business man, great dad and husband. He was diagnosed when he was about 83, and slowly digressed to the stage where he had an urgent need to “go”. He had no place in mind, just needed to go. At about 5 pm everyday, he would become another person. He had hallucinations, delusions and eventually became aggressive because he believed someone was trying to kill him. This was incredibly hard to watch.
More than 5 million Americans suffer from this disease and one in three seniors ends up dying with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Families who care for someone with Alzheimer’s inevitably have to seek a memory care facility or skilled nursing home to take on the day to day struggle.
Here are some tips to finding the best memory care facility for your loved one:
- How has the Disease progressed – The stage of the disease dictates the level of care needed. Someone in the earlier stages might be able move into some form of assisted living community. There are several options based on the attention needed. Basic assisted living may be appropriate if the individual hasn’t begun wandering. The next step would be a Memory Care facility, which is in a community setting, but is secure so there is no risk of wandering. Memory Care facilities are actually a great solution for many reasons. There is around the clock care and supervision. These memory care facilities also have programming that keeps residents engaged and have therapeutic activities that help slow the progression of the disease. The worst thing someone with dementia can do, is sit and watch tv all day. Stimulation is essential to brain health. The next step is a nursing home where around the clock care and long-term medical attention. Not every nursing home has a specialized dementia unit, so it’s important to ask that question when searching.
- Plan now so you can take your time and not have to make decisions in an emergency situation – Many times we want to avoid a painful subject with the hope that it will get better. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s sufferers only plateau or get worse. It is best to plan ahead so that your loved one can be in the best place possible. On your own, it takes countless hours to research, visit, and fill out forms for many memory care facilities and once you have the best one picked out, they may have a waiting list. Time is of the essence to make sure that when the time comes, the business side is taken care of so you can focus on caring for the patient and making a smooth transition. Help from a professional reduces the research and prevents visits to places that won’t be a good fit, but there is still a lot of work that has to be done when preparing for such a move.
- Finances – When I help families find a memory care facility for their family member to be admitted, I’m not sure what is more stressful for them: choosing a safe and caring place, or crunching the numbers to find what they can afford. According to the MetLife Mature Market Institute, “The cost for care varies widely depending on the type of facility. The national average cost for basic services in an assisted living facility is $41,724 per year and in a nursing home, it’s $78,110 per year for a semi-private room and $87,235 per year for a private room.” There are several things to take into consideration as well. Are there Veteran’s benefits that might be able to help pay for the monthly expense. Will Medicaid cover anything? Laws for Medicaid are different in Kentucky and Indiana, so knowing the various options can make a big difference in your ultimate choices.
- Will my choice be a good fit? – Here is a basic list of things you should know:
1. How many residents are assigned to each caregiver?
2. What is the longevity of your care giving staff?
3. Are you licensed for personal care or assisted living? (memory care facilities only)
4. What recreational/physical activities are provided?
5. How is the food? The only way to really know is to have lunch and sample it!
6. How are the rooms furnished? What are we allowed to bring?
7. Is your staff certified or formally trained in Alzheimer’s care? What is the approach?
8. Do you have a psychiatrist or neurologist that visits regularly?
9. Are staff members consistently assigned to the same patients?
10. Compare the stage your loved on is in with the stages of the general population of the community you are considering. If your loved one is high functioning, you don’t want to place them in a community where most residents are low functioning.
There are many other things to consider. The good news is you can have experienced help guide you through finding the best memory care facility at no charge. If you have any questions, or are just curious, don’t hesitate to call!