Choosing the Right Assisted Living for Memory Care

Not only is the decision to place a loved one in a memory care community difficult, but making the decision on which community is just as difficult. Do you plan for the present or do you plan for the future? When it comes to memory care, that decision is often crisis driven and the decision is frequently made for the present. Unfortunately not all communities can or are able to provide care for the future thus the decision made for the present frequently results in another difficult decision in the future. That’s why it is so important for families to plan for the future, to know what is available and where they would like their loved one to be when the time comes for professional care.

We are fortunate in the state of Minnesota to have many good assisted living communities to choose from and each has their own unique standards of care thus giving the consumer many options. But there are specific standards you should look for when searching for a memory care community therefore you will want to ask the following questions:

  1. Do you provide late stage dementia care vs hospice care? Many communities will work with Hospice agencies to provide end of life care but what about late stage care when the resident requires total care with all aspects of living – dressing, bathing, eating, incontinence care, unable to ambulate? Many residents get to this level but are not at end of life.
  2. What is the staff to resident ratio? Is the ratio just caregiving staff or does it include housekeeping, dietary, activities and/or any other ancillary staff. Frequently consumers will be given a staff to resident ratio and assume it is just caregiving staff when in fact it includes all ancillary staff.
  3. What is your discharge criterion? Communities are expected to keep their residents safe therefore when they have residents who are a danger to themselves or others, communities must act. But does that mean the person has to be discharged? Not necessarily, it depends on their discharge criteria.
  4. What is the cost? Be specific as to what is covered in the cost and what is extra. Again, there are many different options available and it is up to you as the consumer to choose what works best for you. Be aware that care billed at incremental rates can be expensive when dealing with someone with dementia and you have little or no control until after the care has been provided. This does not mean the community/agency is doing anything wrong, it is just their model of care and payment.

As difficult as this decision is, once you have done your homework and have made a decision, your stress will be significantly decreased as you no longer have the burden of the unknown for the future on your shoulders.

Arlyce Severson has specialized in providing care to those with dementia for the last 27 years. In her current role as the Director of Operations at the Wealshire of Bloomington she facilitates an environment of well-being for the residents by focusing her staff on treating them with respect and dignity.