Questions to Ask When Exploring Memory Care Options

Memory care is a distinct form of long-term care designed to meet the specific needs of a person with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other types of memory problems. Before you choose a memory care option, you may want to compile a list of questions that cover your concerns about your loved one’s care, comfort and safety. Questions to Ask When Exploring Memory Care Options

Typical Memory Care Services

When it comes to finding the right memory care community for your loved one, questions about the costs and services provided may come to mind. But, memory care communities offer a range of services, some of which might be more important to your loved one than others.

If you are considering memory care for your loved one, understand that many assisted living communities offer a special memory care unit (SCU) on a separate wing or floor. Or, you can choose an independent memory care community – just remember that memory care is specialized skilled nursing distinct from assisted living. Care costs are generally higher at these communities, even if the memory care unit is part of an assisted living facility.

Regardless of whether you choose a memory care facility or SCU, know that staff members have received special training to assist people with dementia or impaired cognition. Common services include 24-hour supervised care, medical monitoring and assistance with daily living tasks, in addition to a pleasing environment that is easy for residents to navigate.

Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Memory Care Community

As you search for memory care communities, you will eventually come up with a list of your top choices. It is important to take time to tour each one, if possible. Ask questions of staff and other families whose loved ones reside at the community, to determine if the community is the right fit for your loved one.

Here are some questions that you may want to ask memory care communities you’re considering:

  1. What level of care does the community provide?
  2. What type of training has the staff received?
  3. What is the monthly rate for housing and care? What services does that rate include?
  4. Are rooms private or semi-private? How do prices vary for each?
  5. What level of personal assistance can residents expect?
  6. What is the policy for handling medical emergencies?
  7. How is the community secured?
  8. What meals are provided? Are special dietary requests, such as kosher meals, accommodated?
  9. How often are housekeeping and laundry service provided?
  10. What programs (exercise, physical therapy, social and other activities) does the facility offer?
  11. Does the facility accommodate special care needs, such as diabetic care, mobility issues, physical aggressiveness or wandering?
  12. Are residents grouped by cognitive level?
  13. What is the ratio of staff to residents during the day/night?
  14. How does the facility communicate with families about a resident’s well-being?
  15. What is the discharge policy?

Families making care decisions about loved ones far away may want to make sure they know where a community is located and perhaps consider travel costs.

Having an Advocate in Your Search

If you need help finding assisted living or memory care for your loved one, A Place for Mom’s Senior Living Advisors can help you devise a plan and offer local expertise on the communities available in your area. Think about talking to friends and others you may know who have gone through this decision-making process. Their insights can help you in your search and give you much-needed support in what can be a very trying time for your family and your loved one.

What other questions did you ask when interviewing memory care communities? What influenced your decision the most? Please share your story in the comments below.

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Please leave your thoughts and comments

  • lizardlemon

    Once you get in there, these questions are just the tip of the iceberg, then you have 20/20 and you wish you could ask these with another 15 or so! What training do your aides have? What certifications do you require before you hire your aides? Will they be trained to handle residents refusal to bath, eat, drink fluids or do other daily routines that are normally required to stay healthy and safe. Do you have cameras on the hallways and doorways? Are the exit doors always monitored? Even though they are locked and alarmed, this does not guarantee that escape is not impossible, only monitoring of the exits will guarantee this. Will the male and female residents be on separate halls? When some residents are known to be violent (hitting and tripping other patients) will you make sure they are kept at a safe distant from others. Will you serve sandwiches 5 nights out of seven for your $5,000 monthly rent? Will you maintain your building, ie., flooding rooms during heavy rains, vents that are rusty, carpet that is severely stained, glass in the courtyard, broken furniture, broken seals on walk in tubs, cigarette butts in courtyard from the employee’s, constant promises to fix things…. I think that making a profit is the only concern for the owners and the few employees that care have no power to change things.

  • Zupamum

    My mother is is in a Memory assisted living facility (MAL) there is not a 24/7 nurse or supervisor in the unit. They have people that come in to do activities, provide them meals in their own dining room, and a nurse from another part of the facility comes in to deliver their medication. My problem is that there is no MAL staff person in their 24/7 somebody comes up from the center and checks on the residents every 2 hours! I think this is just WRONG, what happens if these people get checked, 2 minutes after the help leaves, they fall, what could or would happen to the resident! I need some opinions so I can write an evaluation. “The Memory Assisted Living community is a social model of care; not a medical, clinical environment.” What do you think of this response

  • 4 time caregiver

    other things to ask:
    1. what are the visiting hours?
    2. how often are the residents bathed?
    3. is there an RN on duty 24 hours a day?
    4. can the residents have vitamins and other supplements or just prescription drugs?
    5. what activities are there for the residents to enjoy?
    6. how often are residents seen by the facility doctor?
    7. how does this facility work with hospice when the time comes?
    8. how are staff trained to work with dementia patients?
    9. what personal belongings can a person bring with them?
    10. can I have a copy of the fee schedule?
    11. what if the resident’s money runs out?/ does the facility accept medicaid?

    • D Jones

      Thank you for this additional information. Very much appreciated.

  • csuarez

    We’re having a lot of problems at the 4th Memory Care/Dementia.
    I understand the State of Texas mandates that they do hourly check’ins on the residents?
    We have a camera in his room, they would walk in, wave, close the door.
    We finally got them to quit doing that and asked for another CNA.
    The new one knocks on the door (at all hours), walks up to my father, says: go back to sleep, did

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