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Alzheimer's Residential Care: 4 Critical Keys to Locate the Best Facility
Written by
Ellen Belk
May 2012
Written by
Ellen Belk
May 2012
Finding good Alzheimer’s or Dementia care services, especially a residential facility, for your loved one in the best of times can be challenging. Good deals and frugality ranks high on any savvy consumer’s list, but in troubled times, shopping for the best care for your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia can prove treacherous. So, here are four critical keys to help you exercise caution and diligently assess the services you require for your family member.
Be Wary of Marketing Buzz Words!  
1. Nursing Services 24/7 – Does this mean an on-site nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week? Or, does it mean the nurse is on-call after leaving the building promptly at 5 p.m., Monday through Friday? A qualified nurse in the building who can respond to an issue in moments differs greatly from a nurse called on the phone to make suggestions to the staff without ever entering the building or seeing the patient.
2. No Down Payment, First Month Free – Read the fine print on these claims. These offers sound fabulous, but remember, this is a business: If they cut costs off the top, they must make it up somewhere else. Are there extra fees as the level of care changes? Find out how the pricing structure changes as the need for care increases. If your loved one requires help with medication, dressing, bathing, and other daily needs, you may be charged extra.
3. Dedicated Staff – What’s the staffing ratio? For assisted living, a good industry standard is one (1) qualified staff member for every eight (8) residents with memory impairment. Does the Care staff have specialized Dementia training? If so, what is it? Although there are no specific national standards for Alzheimer’s care (yet), an established staff training program is encouraged. Ask them to give you specifics. A requirement for a new employee to watch a two-hour video about dementia is definitely not the same as an employee with more comprehensive training and a certificate of completion. In addition, ask if the staff receives ongoing training throughout the year. New information updates regarding memory care changes frequently. Therefore, staff should receive continuous training and information as methods shift.
4. Nutritious Meals and Snacks – Eat their food! Schedule a lunch or dinner time tour and stay for a meal. Ask to see examples of their previous month of menus. Do they use fresh fruits and veggies? Are the snacks available 24/7 or are they locked away and only accessible when staff allows? Senior adults with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s typically need an additional 1,500 calories per day to maintain a healthy weight, due to their disease. Therefore, access to healthy, fresh snacks remains imperative. Are the snacks pre-packaged cookies, chips and high fat snacks? Don’t be shy; ask to see their snack selection too!
Shopping for a long-term living arrangement for your memory-impaired family member requires a big decision. Be savvy. Ask questions. Remember, you are the consumer. If you find hesitancy from the community to be forthcoming with their operational procedures, ask yourself why that may be. Marketing buzz words look good on paper, but unless practiced, they mean nothing and add no value to the delivery of overall care.

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