The first step in choosing the right care provider is determining the care needs of the person with dementia at this point in time. Whenever possible, involve the person with dementia in care decisions.
How much care a person needs depends on many factors, including how independently he or she can walk, eat, use the restroom and bathe. During the early stages, the person with dementia may still live independently, but in the middle stages, 24-hour supervision will be needed. In the late stages, round-the-clock care becomes more intensive.
Although assisted living communities may have memory care units on the premises, the two types of care are not synonymous. Memory care is a distinct form of long-term skilled nursing that specifically caters to patients with Alzheimer's disease, dementia and other types of memory problems.
Making the decision to put a loved one into an Alzheimer's memory care facility can be devastating. Sometimes a family member needs a supervised place for their loved one to stay during the day as they work or, as the disease progresses, it may be necessary to admit them into an assisted living facility that provides care for individuals with Alzheimer's or related dementia's full-time.
It's important to realize that not every Alzheimer's and memory care facility is equipped to handle the very special needs and care of Alzheimer's and dementia patients. There are facilities however, that are certified by the state of Texas, to provide care exclusively for individuals with Alzheimer's and related dementia's.
What it Means to be "Alzheimer's Certified"
In Texas, this means the facility has an additional state certification to provide Alzheimer's or related dementia care, which includes increased staff training requirements, elevated criteria regarding activity programming, and higher educational requirements for the management staff, and additional facility safety systems to maintain a safe living environment are acceptable, such as delayed egress door mechanisms.
Facilities with this type of certification will have one (1) facility provider number or License number and one (1) certification number, both issued by the state of Texas, one for general assisted licensure AND one for Dementia certification.
Assisted living communities may not advertise themselves as a specialized Alzheimer's facility unless they have the additional Alzheimer's certification. Alternative names which are frequently used are memory care or memory support instead of using the term Alzheimer's in the facility descriptive. This can be confusing for families.
What families need to know is that if the facility is unable to demonstrate that they possess a licenses number and an Alzheimer's certification number, then they are probably not certified in Alzheimer's care.
After having your loved one properly diagnosed by a qualified
doctor, or a memory disorder center, consider following these
steps before choosing an Alzheimer's care facility:
1. Make sure that the facility is licensed and accredited.
There are many
kinds of Assisted Living Facilities. Make sure the one you choose
has been licensed to handle the special needs of Alzheimer's and
memory care patients.
2. Check the qualifications of the staff.
Alzheimer's and memory care patients
require special care, so make sure that the staff helping and
supervising your relative is qualified and specially trained to work
with people who have progressive memory disorders. Also, check the
resident-to-staff ratio. Six patients to one staff member usually
means good care.
3. Check the facility. Is it clean?
Does it provide a loving
environment where your relative feels at home? Make sure that the
facility is equipped with the feature necessary to help your
4. Look at the rooms.
Some Alzheimer's and memory care communities have
very elaborate public areas. The truth is that the patient's room is
the very private place your relative will call home. Look at the
bedrooms. Are they clean and spacious? Do they allow your relative
to decorate and make the space personal with photos of loved ones
and mementos even furniture from home that will help remind your
loved one of home?
5. Make sure that the buildings and premises are secure.
Security is vital to an
Assisted Living Facility that cares for Alzheimer's and memory care
patients given their lack of memory.
6. Look at the programs being offered.
Look for a facility that offers a
wide variety of special programs that will keep your relative alert,
interested and entertained. Alzheimer's patients need constant
stimulation. It is also important that programs and support groups
are offered for caregivers, so that the whole family can take part
and get help if needed.
7. Ask about the medical and dental care provisions.
Do doctors visit the
facility regularly? Can residents visit their own doctors and, in
case of an emergency, is there as doctor on call? Which hospital is
the facility associated with?
8. Check the visiting schedule.
sure that the Alzheimer's and memory care community is receptive of
family members and allows privacy during visits. Ask if you can take
your relative off the premises. Look for a facility that allows you
as much assess to your relative as you need.
9. Take a close look at the residents and how they are being treated.
they participating in activities? Are they restrained or simply
watching television? Make sure that the residents seem happy are
comfortable and are participating in activities.
10. Get all information about fees in writing.
Be sure to ask about what is
covered in the base fee and what is considered extra. Ask about fee
increases and about available pay options. Also ask if the
Alzheimer's and memory care community works with Medicaid or
To get the truth about a Alzheimer's and memory care community and the care provided, ask the family members of residents currently living there. They are the best sources for information about treatment and can help you make a more informed decision.
Although the decision to admit a loved one into an Assisted Living Facility is not easy, a good "home" with the right environment can be the best solution to providing the special, and much needed care that an Alzheimer's patient requires.
Elder Options of Texas
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DISCLAIMER: Links to other websites or references to products, services or publications do not imply the endorsement or approval of such websites, products, services or publications by Elder Options of Texas. The determination of the need for senior care services and the choice of a facility is an extremely important decision. Please make your own independent investigation.