As a loved one progresses from the early to the middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease, there may come a time when he or she needs more help than you can provide at home. Fortunately, there’s a variety of long-term care facilities available, ranging from assisted living facilities to nursing homes. The trick is choosing the right one for your loved one. With that in mind, here are some things to consider:
- What is the skill and experience level of the staff? You’ll want to look for a facility where the staff members are trained in dealing with those in all stages of Alzheimer’s. And you’ll want to make sure that, in addition to training, the staff members have actual experience dealing with Alzheimer’s patients. The first step is to simply ask the facility about the skill and training of its staff members. But, it’s essential to go beyond this, and visit the facility several times – preferably at different times of day.
Pay attention to the way the staff members interact with residents. Is their tone helpful and respectful, or harsh and condescending? How do caregivers respond to outbursts or difficult situations? Do the residents seem relaxed and happy, or is the overall tone of the facility tense?
- Is the facility close to friends and family? It’s ideal for your loved one to have plenty of friends and family visiting on a regular basis. If possible, you’ll want to make sure that the facility is close enough to friends and family that this can happen. When you visit the facility, pay attention to the way that visitors are treated. You’ll want to look for a facility with an open, welcoming attitude.
Does the facility cater only to Alzheimer’s patients, or to a variety of residents? There are advantages to each arrangement. Many facilities that cater only to Alzheimer’s patients have staff with a higher level of training and experience when it comes to dealing with residents. Also, the overall focus of the facility is likely to be geared toward anticipating and meeting the needs of those with Alzheimer’s. And, monitoring and security may be a higher priority than in other facilities.
On the other hand, a facility with a variety of residents can be a great place, socially, for seniors in all but the late stages of the disease. And, many of these facilities have staff members who are experienced in caring for those with Alzheimer’s. In these facilities, you’ll want to pay special attention to monitoring practices.
- What is the floor plan of the facility? Put yourself in your loved one’s shoes, and assess how easy – or difficult – it would be for someone to navigate the facility. If there’s a complicated layout featuring lots of intersecting hallways and dead ends, it may not be the best place for your loved one.