There will come a time when a person with Alzheimer’s disease will need more care than can be provided at home. The individual may need to move into residential care, such as assisted living or a nursing home. Planning for a move into a care facility should begin well before admission is needed. This advanced planning allows families to:
- Learn about what memory care service options are available
- Determine which will best be able to meet the needs of an individual with dementia
- Anticipate the costs of care and find resources to help pay for them
The first step in choosing the right Alzheimer’s care facility 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.
Once you have a clear idea of the type of memory care services needed, ask others for referrals. Here are some good places to start:
- Your local Alzheimer’s Associationor our online Community Resource Finder
- The doctor
- Your local senior center or Area Agency on Aging
- Other caregivers or people in the community who have used providers in the past
Once you have a list of possible providers, call them. Describe your situation and explain what you would like from a memory care service. Ask questions over the telephone regarding qualifications, types of services offered, cost and hours of availability. The more information you receive over the phone, the easier it will be to identify which service is a good fit. You will also be able to limit the number of services you interview in person.
When contacting an Alzheimer’s care provider or care setting, be prepared by having the following information available about the person with Alzheimer’s:
- Physician’s name and number
- Diagnoses, other health and behavioral care needs
- Insurance coverage including Medicare, Medicaid and long-term care insurance
After you have gotten referrals and narrowed your options, screening care providers is the next important step. You want to find a memory care service provider whom you trust and who interacts well with the person with dementia. When you interview potential providers, have a list of questions to ask. Here are some basics to get you started:
- Services needed
Does the care provider offer the specific services the person with dementia needs?
- Care plans
How are care plans created and reviewed? The family and the person with dementia, if able, should be involved.
- Training and experience
Is the staff trained in dementia care or have experience in working with someone with dementia? Are those credentials verified?
- Background check
Does the agency, memory care service provider or care facility conduct background checks on all staff?
What is the procedure if the care provider is sick, on vacation or quits?
Ask the care provider for at least three references. Contact the families and ask about their experience, the care the person received and any concerns they had.
- On-site visits
For adult day/respite care providers or residential care, arrange a meeting with staff and take time to look around. Are individuals involved in activities? What is your overall feeling about the environment? For in-home help, ask if the care provider can come to your home to meet you and the person with Alzheimer’s. Does the care provider interact and communicate well with the person with Alzheimer’s?
Other local resources include:
- The Pierce County Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) is a first stop for older adults and individuals with disabilities of all ages, family members, caregivers, service providers and community professionals. Our focus is on helping individuals remain safe and independent in their own homes in the community as long as is practical.
- Alzheimer’s Resources – Pierce County
- Pierce County Aging Disability Resources Tacoma Area Agency
- Pierce County Aging Disability Resource Center
- Aging and Long-Term Support Administration
- Pierce County Human Services (formerly Senior Information and Assistance)
253.798.4600 or 1.800.562.0332 | Aging and Disability Resources
- Senior Rights Assistance
- Adult/Senior Services & Information
- National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers
- Pierce County Senior Information and Assistance
- National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
- Social Security Administration
- Alzheimer’s Association
- Arthritis Foundation
- American Diabetes Association
- Cancer Information Specialists
- American Parkinson Disease Association
- Web MD
- Family Caregiver Alliance
- National Alliance for Caregiving