When someone with Alzheimer’s disease can’t live alone anymore, an assisted living facility is one way to make sure they get the care and attention they need in a safe place. The decision to move is not an easy one for you, your loved one, and your family to make. Here’s how to tell if it’s the right option for your loved one’s situation and how to choose a good facility.
What Is Assisted Living?
Assisted living is a type of housing for people who need help with some medical and personal care but can still handle some parts of daily living on their own.
Most facilities are designed to feel like home and encourage residents to be as independent as they can be. You and your loved one can choose the services you want the staff to take on and those your loved one can handle. Living spaces can be individual rooms, apartments, or shared quarters.
Assisted living services vary from place to place, but they usually include:
- One to three meals a day
- Medication reminders
- Help with dressing, bathing, and other personal care
- Housekeeping and laundry
- 24-hour emergency care
- Some medical services
- Social and recreational activities
How Do I Know if My Loved One Needs Assisted Living?
As Alzheimer’s gets worse, your loved one may start to need more care and supervision. It may be more than you can handle as a caregiver. As you think about their day-to-day needs, consider these questions:
- Do you worry about their health or safety when they are alone at home?
- Are you physically able to handle their care?
- Does the help they need keep you from your work, family, or personal life? Are you feeling more stressed, irritable, or burned out?
- Would the structure and social life in a care facility be good for them?
What Should I Look for in a Facility?
The best way to judge the quality of an assisted living facility is to see it in person and talk to staff and residents. When you make visits, take these checklists with you.
Finances, Contracts, and More
- Does the facility meet local and state licensing standards?
- What’s the policy on insurance and personal property?
- How does the staff respond to a medical emergency?
- Are visitors welcome at any time?
- Is there a written care plan for each resident?
- How does the staff decide what services a new resident needs? How often do they do that?
- Can the facility kick out residents who refuse to comply with a care plan?
- Do contracts cover housing, personal care, health care, and support services?
- When can the center terminate a contract? What’s the refund policy?
- Are extra services available if a resident’s needs change?
- How do you pay for extra services that your loved one needs only for a short time (such as nursing care)?
- How much do different levels or types of services cost?
- What are the billing, payment, and credit policies?
- What kind of training does the staff get?
- Are staff members personable and outgoing?
- Do they greet residents by their first names? How do they interact with them?
- How does the staff respond to unscheduled needs?
- Are there people to help residents who have problems with memory, confusion, or judgment?
Residents, Atmosphere, and Social Life
- How do the residents of a community get along? Do they seem happy and comfortable?
- What do residents, visitors, and volunteers say about the facility?
- Does the facility offer activities and social events? What kind and how often?
- Do residents join in activities with other communities in the area?
- Do volunteers, including family members, come in to help with programs?
Facility Design and Features
- Do you like the look of the building and its surroundings?
- Do the living spaces feel homey?
- Is the floor plan easy to follow?
- Do wheelchairs and walkers fit in doorways, hallways, and rooms?
- Are cupboards and shelves easy to reach?
- Are carpets secured and floors made of a non-skid material?
- Are the rooms well-lit?
- Are the rooms clean, odor-free, and a comfortable temperature?
- Do residents have their own lockable doors?
- Is there a 24-hour emergency response system in or near each unit?
- Are bathrooms private? Are they big enough for wheelchairs and walkers?
- Can residents bring their own furnishings? What may they bring?
- Do all units have a telephone and cable TV? How are you billed for these services?
- Do residents have a kitchen with a refrigerator, sink, and stove or oven?
- Can residents keep food in their units?
- Does the facility allow smoking in units or in public areas?
- Do they allow pets? Who takes care of them?
Help With Medication and Health Care
- What’s the facility's policy on helping residents take medicine, storing it, and record-keeping?
- Are residents allowed to manage their own medication?
- Who coordinates visits from a nurse, physical therapist, occupational therapist, or other specialists?
- Does a doctor or nurse visit the residents for medical checkups? How often?
Assisted Living Services
Your loved one may not need round-the-clock help, but having it available can mean a lot for their safety and your peace of mind. Check if a facility’s staff can provide 24-hour assistance to residents. Ask about the services they offer, such as:
- Walking or getting around the facility
- Personal grooming
- Help with bathing or using the toilet
- Using the telephone
- Housekeeping in rooms or apartments
- Rides to doctors’ appointments, the beauty salon, or other activities
Assisted Living and Food Service
- How often does the center provide meals? What’s a typical menu? Are there set meal times?
- Are snacks available?
- What if residents need special foods?
- Are there group dining areas? May residents eat meals in their units?