Alzheimer’s affects nearly 36 million people worldwide. One in nine Americans over the age of 65 has been diagnosed with this condition. Alzheimer’s and dementia are the top causes for disabilities in the later stages of life. Seniors with Alzheimer’s are three times more likely to be hospitalized than those who do not have this disease.
With these alarming facts, it’s no wonder that so many are looking for a caring, comfortable, safe environment to help their loved ones who struggle with the impairments that come from having Alzheimer’s. Many times it’s not that families don’t want to care for their elderly parent; it’s that they can’t because of the extensive safety precautions and 24/7 attention that these patients require.
Here are five things that you should look for when searching for a dementia care home:
1) Narrowing down the search – There are a ton of nursing homes out there and finding the perfect one is much like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. First of all, find one that is within the radius of where close family members and visitors live. The main thing your loved one depends on is you!
2) Research, research, research – It’s been ingrained in us that you can’t judge a book by its cover, so you probably can’t judge a nursing home by just a simple visit. Ask your doctor if he or she has heard comments or complaints about local nursing homes or inquire about this topic to friends with older parents. Want the stats? CiteHealth.com can give you every detail on the homes that you have narrowed down. From average RN or licensed staff member per resident to vaccination rates to ailments that are reported by long-term patients, this website gives an in-depth overview of the facts you want to know.
3) Payment – Nursing homes are expensive and the higher list of needs for an Alzheimer’s patient certainly increases these costs. When interviewing an administrative staff member of a potential nursing home, ask what forms of payment they accept. Many seniors rely on help from Medicare, but Medicare only pays for skilled care in a facility with a Medicare license. You might want to consider Medicaid, but there is limited eligibility and the requirements vary from state to state. Long term health insurance is helpful, so be sure to ask your agent about your policy coverage.
4) Facility Features – Here are some important things to look for as you tour the prospective facility:
Is the staff interacting with the patients and calling them by name?
Do the residents appear to be happy and have proper hygiene?
Can you see doctors, nurses, and volunteers caring for patients?
Is the décor attractive and homelike? Is the floor clean? Is the paint fresh? Are there handrails on the walls and are they smudged?
Is there a common area or outside patio for patients to interact with others and to get a break from their room?
What does the food look like and smell like? Would you want to eat it?
What do the rooms look like? Is there storage? A private bathroom? A view?
5) Questions to Ask – You’re sitting in the administrative office. What should you ask?
Do you have an up-to-date license (both Medicare and state license)?
What is your standard procedure during an emergency?
How do you ensure the safety and security of your Alzheimer’s patients?
Is there a waiting list? What happens on move-in day?
What is included in the monthly fees? What costs extra?
When are visiting hours?
Are the rooms furnished? Are there any rules as to what we can and can’t bring?
If we feel the need to change facilities, what are the contract termination procedures?
How are staff members screened? What training do they have to work with Alzheimer’s patients?
What activities are available?
What do you do if an Alzheimer’s patient feels confused or becomes unruly?
Finding the right Alzheimer’s care for your loved one may be one of the most difficult choices you ever make. However, when you take the time to research the right home, you’ll have the peace of mind that they are being well taken care of.