Choosing the right retirement home for a loved one who suffers from dementia

Choosing the right retirement home for a loved one who suffers from dementia


Alzheimer’s disease can be challenging for everyone involved. Caring for a loved one who suffers from dementia may seem overwhelming, however, choosing the right retirement home need not be. Below are some aspects to consider to help navigate the road ahead to determine the best long-term care options available.

Being as organized as possible is the first step toward choosing the right retirement home for a loved one who suffers from dementia. Below details some steps that may be helpful in the process:

*Engage with a support group or professional to deal with emotional concerns. Speaking with other people who are experiencing the same issues could be helpful for adjusting to everything that must be confronted.

*Take the time to fully assess the situation and make notes to refer to later after discussing issues with a support group or professional while continuing to conduct research.

Evaluating Care Options
Depending upon the level of dementia and the present physical condition, a loved one may be suitable for either a nursing home or an assisted living facility. Assisted living facilities tend to encourage a level of freedom, while still assuring safety for their residents. Nursing homes, however, are usually more suitable for less ambulatory individuals or those who require more extensive care. Below is a description of the two main types of facilities that more commonly handle dementia and Alzheimer’s residents.

1. Assisted Living. Assisted living options are for those individuals in need of supervision and some help with daily activities. Some facilities provide help with a variety of situations, such as mobility, medications and supervision. Others may include more services. Staff is usually always available twenty-four hours daily, but it is still important that the facility is well versed at dementia or Alzheimer’s care. In addition, understanding the stage of dementia is critical to assess the level of care required.

2. Nursing Homes. Nursing homes are usually more comprehensive in their care levels and provide assistance in daily living and offer more medical care. Licensed physicians supervise each resident’s care and nurses or other medical professionals are always available. Sometimes, there is a medical office on site with essential medical equipment. There may also be a variety of physical or occupational therapists, medical professionals, and skilled nursing care providers available.

Choosing a Suitable Environment 
Once the level of care needed is determined, it will be necessary to visit appropriate facilities. It is easiest to begin by doing online research and having a short phone conversation to isolate which facilities to visit. Primarily, find out:

1. Whether the facility specializes in dementia or Alzheimer’s care and for how long.
2. How many residents there have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
3. What the resident to staff ratio is.

Services at typical assisted living and nursing facilities should include:

1. At least three meals a day with snacks and adequate hydration.
2. Assistance with eating, dressing, bathing, bathroom and walking as needed.
3. Regular housekeeping and laundry services.
4. Transportation.
5. Access to medical, health and medication services.
6. Continual security.
7. Emergency call systems in each resident’s living space.
8. Exercise and wellness programs.
9. Recreational and social activities.
10. General supervision as needed.

Once you have determined which facilities to visit, arrange to meet with staff to evaluate the facility and environment. This should be done both by appointment and unannounced for each facility. Below are some areas to cover with each visit:

1. Atmosphere and environment, including how residents appear
2. Mobility levels and ease of maneuvering
3. General staff attitudes
4. Staff interaction with residents
5. Find out how behavioral issues such as wandering are dealt with
6. Determine how unexpressed pain is assessed when residents cannot communicate
7. View the meal menus and taste the food in the dining area
8. Ask about staff turnover

Special Considerations
Before choosing a suitable assisted living or nursing home facility, ensure that the environment meets with your expectations. This is best done by visiting a variety of facility types as well as locations. Be prepared to take notes and ensure that all of your questions are answered.

Use your instincts; if the atmosphere does not seem suitable, recognize that and visit other facilities. There are many options available at a variety of care levels, which allows for more variety and choice. The goal is to find a home for your loved one where he or she will be comfortable and well cared for, so that you will have peace of mind.

The reality of placing a loved one in a residential care home is generally not an easy process. This is why it is important to spend enough time to properly research and find assistance as needed. The more support available, the easier the process will be.


Author: Lucy James

Biography: Lucy James is a freelance write specialising in the area of mental health. She is currently helping to represent aUK based charity called MHA.


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