How to Choose a Memory Care Center

Issues with memory and a gradual loss of certain intellectual abilities naturally accompany the aging process. Some memory loss, though — such as that associated with Alzheimer’s disease, to name one example — does not fall within the normal range and can become dangerous to the individual and their loved ones. If an elderly parent has been forgetting to turn off their stove, is getting lost on walks, or may be unable to respond correctly in the event of an emergency, their safety may depend on placement within a residential memory care center.

If you think that this option is right for your loved one, it is necessary and important to carefully make a decision that will give you and your mother or father support and peace of mind. Here’s a little info on how to go about the selection process.

Start by looking for someplace nearby. You want the memory care center to be excellent, of course, but it is critical to ongoing health that you see your loved one regularly, according to Ruth Drew of the Alzheimer’s Association. If you choose someone further away, make sure you’re able to visit frequently, despite the distance.

Research the memory care facility extensively online and possibly also by phone, collecting some basic information. Check for cases of neglect and abuse, along with any negative press. Once you feel you have a few strong candidates, it is time to set up tours at each of them.

While you are taking the tour, pay attention to how responsive and friendly the caretakers are, and ask about their training program. You also want to know how long staff members have been at the facility, both because high turnover reflects poorly on the center, and because it represents potential instability for your parent’s environment.

Care is not just about the staff, but also the environment. Is everything clean? Is the food tasty and varied? Are there plenty of caretakers to help feed anyone who needs assistance? Are any residents not getting the attention they need?

The above questions tie into a specific key characteristic of a memory care center that you should request: the staff-to-resident ratio. If it’s too high, residents start to get stuck in front of TV sets simply to keep them occupied.

Check the activities calendar. Are there activities that will interest your loved one? There should be a broad array of options, with exercise, art, and music events or groups each convening at least once per day. Are holidays celebrated at the center?

Make sure care is individualized. Will the community play a certain familiar song on a resident’s headphones to help them focus on finishing their meal?

Once you start to feel more confident about a specific center, go back to the location. Make an unscheduled visit to the facility on a weekend or in the evening, when there are fewer staff members present.

The above steps should help you choose a memory care center that will be an excellent choice for your loved one. If you do not feel that your questions are sufficiently answered, or for any reason feel unsure about the facility, back out and continue your research.