Alzheimer’s: Finding the Right Facility for Your Loved One

by | Feb 15, 2012

Sadly the moment is finally upon you: You have to admit to yourself that you can no longer cope with your loved one?s Alzheimer?s, it is too far advanced and they now need specialized care. The main thing to remember is that you shouldn?t leave the decision regarding care facilities until the last minute. Most people don?t want to admit to themselves that it is time and this can have an impact on the level of research that can be completed before a decision has to be made. Give yourself time to acclimatize yourself to the idea and to explore all the options, and also to understand the different types of care available.

Types of care facilities
Over 5.3 million people in the U.S. suffer from Alzheimer’s and it affects the lives of another 10.9 million people who are the unpaid care-givers supporting and caring for Alzheimer’s victims.  In an age when people are living longer, it is also the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S. As a result, there are many care facilities geared towards the care of Alzheimer?s patients. These vary depending on the type and level of care your loved one needs.

  • Assisted living: Also called board and care, adult living or supported care, these facilities bridge the gap between living independently and living in a nursing home. Assisted living typically offers a combination of housing and meals, and supportive and health care services. The federal government does not regulate assisted living, and definitions of assisted living vary from state to state so it is very important to check accreditations and explore fully how the facility is run before committing to placing your loved one there.


  • Nursing homes: Also called skilled nursing facilities or long-term care facilities, these provide long-term care to individuals who require ongoing nursing care and supervision. Most nursing homes have services and staff to address issues such as nutrition, care planning, recreation, spirituality and medical care. Nursing homes are usually licensed by the state and regulated by the federal government.
  • Alzheimer special care units (SCUs): These are designed to meet the specific needs of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. SCUs can take many forms and exist within various types of residential care. Such units most often are cluster settings in which persons with dementia are grouped together on a floor or a unit within a larger residential care facility.


How to select the right type of care facility for your loved one
Selecting the right care can be difficult, you need guidance to make you aware of what is available and to steer you through the options. The exceptionally supportive Alzheimer?s Association offers an online guide,CareFinder, which aims to make this process a little easier. The guide helps families to identify the right care options for their loved one and provides the information required to make a decision. Families use theCareFinder online guide to enter information about their loved one?s needs, abilities and preferences; the guide then generates a private, customized printout with recommendations and, most importantly, questions to ask when screening a caregiver or a residential care facility. The guide also helps families learn how to recognize good care, and how to plan and pay for the care. It also provides advice on how to find local support. Go to for more information on CareFinder.

The signs of a good Alzheimer?s care facility
You have done all the research and have narrowed down your choices. But how do you know that the facility you decide on is the right one for your loved one? That it will support all their needs in a caring and nurturing environment, with skilled staff on hand to help? A good care facility will have:

  • A structured routine for Alzheimer’s residents
  • Your loved one’s individual needs in mind
  • Comfortable, familiar, and safe surroundings
  • A compassionate staff
  • Activities that help an Alzheimer’s patient succeed at familiar tasks
  • Outdoor activities, such as secured walking paths and gardening boxes
  • Staff that can deal with difficult situations and behaviors
  • Methods to control wandering.

It is never easy to hand over the care of a loved one to someone else, but hopefully this article will make you feel more comfortable with the process and will help you to make an informed decision.


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