Health

6 Top Things to Look for When Choosing a Suitable Memory Care Home

memory care home: young person holding the hand of an elderly man.

Moving a loved one to a memory care home is something no family wishes they must do. However, every family should prepare for this eventuality. Even if it never comes to pass, knowing the different options is helpful if and when this time does come. The following are six things to consider when selecting a facility of this type.

Facility Visits

When choosing a memory care facility for a loved one, don’t visit once and assume everything is acceptable. Be sure to make multiple visits to the facility at different times to obtain a better understanding of how the center operates. During these visits, numerous things should be examined. 

First, make certain the facility is adequately staffed at all times, including nights and weekends. Residents live in the center around the clock, and staff must be prepared to address any issues regardless of when they arise. This is why one visit is never enough to determine if the memory care home is right for the loved one’s needs.

Make certain the facility is clean during each visit. It’s important to ensure that there aren’t objects lying around that could be hazardous to the residents. When a facility is short-staffed, items may not be put back in their proper place. An elderly person could trip or fall and get hurt when this is the case.

Staff-to Resident Ratio and Turnover

Experts recommend a staff-to-resident ratio of one staff member for every five residents. This helps to ensure every person gets the attention they need in a timely manner. Plus residents aren’t placed in front of a television to keep them occupied. Although this figure may vary slightly at times, due to meal breaks or a patient emergency, this should be the figure a family is aiming for when choosing a facility. 

Furthermore, ask about staff turnover. This is of great importance as individuals with dementia prefer to be surrounded by familiar things. If staff members are constantly leaving and being replaced by new people, this can be very disturbing to the resident. 

Finally, ask about any training staff members receive and who must take part in this training. Residents will likely come into contact with everyone working in the facility at one time or another. This includes the janitorial staff and meal prep workers. As a result, everyone employed by the facility should receive training on how to deal with different situations and how to care for patients properly. 

Activities

When a person thinks of activities for a patient with dementia, they may immediately bring to mind things that help the person with their memory or activities that encourage them to be more active. While this is true, certain facilities are now thinking outside of the box and finding ways to encourage residents to do more. For example, dementia patients have a tendency to wander. One memory care home has set up the facility in a way that encourages patients to wander by setting off-center pictures at the end of a hallway. The patient moves down the hallway to see the rest of the picture and is encouraged to walk the next hallway as well.

As physical activity is very important to a person’s health, innovations such as these are greatly appreciated in memory care facilities and many other places. 

Another thing the facility may do to allow for wandering by residents is to provide sitting areas throughout the center and outdoors. The patient can sit down when they tire and resume their walk once they catch their breath. Water and snacks may be provided in these sitting areas to encourage patients to consume food and water also, which they may forget to do otherwise. 

Familiar Belongings

Every patient should be provided with their own space, an area they can surround themselves with familiar belongings. Being surrounded by these items helps to bring comfort to the resident when confusion overtakes the mind. This is only one of many ways, however, that a facility can help residents when they become disoriented and need help in locating their room. 

Some facilities now use words and pictures to identify each patient’s room. Additionally, they make use of memory boxes outside each resident’s door. This helps staff members distinguish between those they are working with and residents identify their room. The memory boxes or shadow boxes may be filled with photos from the resident’s past. Family members are encouraged to bring things that may jog the resident’s memory and help the family member remember which room is theirs. 

Long-Term Care 

There is no way to predict the future. If a resident becomes ill and needs additional care, will the facility be able to provide it?

This is of great importance as a person with this condition does not need to be moved frequently. The right memory care home will be able to accommodate additional medical needs as they arise in the future. This will ensure the resident has stability in his or her life. Learn which conditions would require a move on the part of the resident. Furthermore, discuss Medicaid and how much it will cover in terms of the cost of the facility. No family wants to learn they must move a loved one simply because they can no longer afford the facility.

Individual Needs

A memory care home should recognize each resident is unique and work to accommodate the needs of the individual. For instance, a resident may refuse to eat unless he or she is facing a particular direction. Staff members should be willing to accommodate this request. As long as the person is not asking for anything that is unreasonable or unsafe, the staff needs to be willing to work arrangements for the patient. This could involve playing music while one resident eats or carrying out a specific routine at bedtime for another patient. Again, the request of the resident should be within reason and safe. As long as it meets these two requirements, the right facility will work to make it happen. 

Choosing where to move a loved one suffering from dementia should not be a decision made rapidly. Take the time to research several facilities to find the one that is best suited for your family member’s specific needs. Doing so ensures the loved one has the highest quality of life in his or her time left on earth. The time spent comparing facilities to ensure this is the case will never be wasted.