Looking for the right senior living community for a loved one takes time. You need to ask questions to make sure a community fits your loved one’s specific needs, interests and lifestyle. When an aging loved one suffers from memory loss, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, special attention must be given to finding a senior community that will not only care for their medical needs but also will allow them to continue living a quality life.
Bayshore Memory Care, in Naples, Fla., is entirely focused on providing research-driven memory care in an elegant setting free from the cookie-cutter or institutional feel. Our residents benefit from best-in-class techniques and technologies from highly-skilled care providers in a specially designed setting.
Here are some items to consider and questions to ask when looking for the best memory care setting for your loved one.
Do Your Research
Start by talking with your loved one’s doctor, or a discharge planner if your loved one has had a recent hospital or rehab stay. Your local area Agency on Aging (through the Department of Health and Human Services) and senior center are also two great places to start asking for referrals. Of course friends, co-workers or neighbors who may have already been through the experience can provide personal insight that can often be more valuable than websites and brochures.
Online searching can also be helpful, but be wary of fee-based referral companies who pay a lot to have their name come up at the top of a page during your search. Know that they may charge a hefty fee (equal to one month’s or more mortgage) to help you find a community. Instead, there are several reputable groups with FREE online assisted living and memory care community locators and financial assistance locators. A few top ones include:
- National Center for Assisted Living
- Caring.com (This site is full of informational and educational articles as well as consumer reviews for most of the facilities listed.)
- Payingforseniorcare.com (This is an eldercare financial resource locator, and is free of ads and fees.)
Call Each Community
Once you’ve found a few that seem to fit your loved one’s needs and budget, call and ask questions. Talk to a head administrator who can answer most or all of your questions about the community’s offerings. General questions might include:
- Are you currently accepting new residents? If not, ask about their waiting lists. It’s worth keeping in mind that families often put their names on waiting lists at several facilities, so the list may be shorter than it seems.
- Is the community able to accommodate people at all levels of dementia, or only at specific levels?
- Is the community state licensed?
- Who assesses residents’ health and cognitive functioning? How often is that assessment repeated?
- Does each resident have a formal, written plan of care?
- Does the community help with all activities of daily living (ADLs), including bathing, toileting, and eating?
- Is the care component included, or provided by a third party?
- What kind of dementia-specific training do staff members have?
- What activities and exercise sessions are offered to residents?
- What resources are available to engage residents’ long-term memories?
- Are apartments furnished or can you bring your own things?
- What happens if care needs change–at what point would you need to seek other arrangements?
- Are there incidental costs not included in the rental agreement? If so, what are they?
- What are your costs? Pricing for assisted living and memory care can vary significantly based on your loved one’s needs, so this may not be the time to pin down specific pricing. That said, it is wise to ask general questions to determine whether a provider is way out of your price range.
- What types of payments do you accept? Do you offer programs to help seniors pay for their care?
- Ask them to respond to an explain any negative online reviews.
Narrow down your options and schedule appointments to tour each community in person. If your loved one has trouble with mobility or may become overly upset or stressed, you may consider first touring communities with a close family member or trusted friend first, who can help take notes and give you honest feedback. Then once you have found two or three you really like, take your loved one back so they can have a say in the final decisions.
Listen to your gut instinct and reaction to a community’s aesthetic. Expensive places with lots of advertising could end up being cold and dreary, while an older or smaller community could be warm and happy. If the tour isn’t enjoyable, chances are good that living there wouldn’t be either.
When touring ask questions about and take notice of the overall community. What is your first impression? Is it visually pleasing? Does it smell fresh and clean? Are there residents out and about enjoying themselves? Do people look happy?
Consider the layout. If the facility is part of an assisted living community or continuing care retirement community, is the memory care section separate from other areas? Is the memory care area all on one level? Is the community laid out with circular hallways so that residents aren’t frustrated by cul-de-sacs? Are the residents’ rooms private or shared? Is there an enclosed, secure outdoor area with walking paths?
Safety should be a priority as well. Does the community feature even, good lighting in hallways and common areas? Does the community feature non-slip floor surfaces in all rooms, including bathrooms? Is the interior and exterior of the facility secure? What methods are used to keep tabs on residents and make sure they don’t wander out of the building or off the grounds?
Is signage clear and prominent? Are doors and rooms labeled clearly, both with words and pictures, to help residents stay oriented? Do residents have “memory boxes” outside their rooms to help them identify the right room and to help staff members get to know them better? Are the colors used throughout the community bold and unpatterned? Does the community feature good natural or faux-natural lighting in residents’ rooms and common areas?
Make sure you pay attention to the staff’s interaction with residents. Do staff members seem to know each resident’s name, personality, and background? Are they kind and attentive to residents’ needs? What is the staff-to-resident ratio? (Experts advise a ratio of at least 1 to 7, especially for later-stage dementia.) Is there an RN, LVN, or CNA on staff?
Ask to view the dining area while seniors are eating and one or two activities while in session. Do residents seem to enjoy the food? How does the community encourage eating among residents who are uninterested in food — or how does it encourage residents who tend to overeat not to be unhealthy? (Studies have shown that contrasts, like brightly colored plates, can encourage people with dementia to eat more.) What types of activities (crafts, celebrations, classes, events, outings) does the community offer?
You can find a complete guide to assisted living, including a checklist of questions to ask, on the National Center for Assisted Living website.
Discuss and decide
Once all of your homework and tours are complete, it is time to sit down and discuss the details with your loved one and other close family members. From atmosphere to cost, initial living space to needs further down the road, this decision will be one of the most important that you and your family will make. Take your time, make follow up calls with any additional questions, and don’t hesitate to take another tour, with others in your family, before making that final decision.
Choosing an exceptional community
Bayshore Memory Care in Naples, Fla., is devoted to offering the best quality of life possible for each resident. Staff receives ongoing training in the latest techniques for caring for those with memory impairment.
Our unique Heartfelt Connections–A Memory Care Program® is designed to establish the best quality of life for each resident. With memory loss, we understand that what remains is far more important than what is lost. That is why the goal of Heartfelt Connections is to create normalcy for your loved one by capturing their unique life story and determining their unique 24-hour routine. The result is an individualized plan of care that provides confidence, calm, self-esteem and self-worth.
For more information regarding the services offered at Bayshore, visit our Contact Us page, or call 239-213-9370.