Moving your family member or loved one into a memory care facility is a big decision, but at some point almost anyone with Alzheimer’s or dementia will need professional care. When that time comes, how will you know if you’ve chosen the right memory care facility? Every memory care facility has a great brochure, and they’re happy to talk up all their great features during your tour, but how will your loved one be treated on a day-to-day basis?
The fact that your loved one has Alzheimer’s or dementia makes this question even trickier to answer. Those in the later stages of dementia often experience significant memory loss, anxiety, confusion, and paranoia. It may be difficult to speak with your loved one about their experiences at the memory care facility. With that in mind, here are some important ways you can check up on your loved one and make sure they receive the care they deserve.
1. Have Regular Conversations with Your Loved One
If your loved one is in the earlier or intermediate stages of dementia, you should still be able to have meaningful and pleasant conversations with them. When you call or stop by to visit, simply ask them how they like the place. Ask them:
- Do you feel comfortable?
- Is the staff respectful of you?
- Do you feel like all your needs are being met?
Be patient during these conversations and be aware that you might not always be able to get a coherent answer.
2. Review Your Loved One’s Cleanliness
It is a good idea to visit your loved one regularly. Nothing can beat first-hand observation when determining whether your loved one is healthy, safe, and comfortable. On your visit, one of the first things to check is your loved one’s cleanliness:
- Are they wearing fresh clothes?
- Is their hair washed and combed?
- Does it seem as if they have bathed regularly?
- Do you notice any unpleasant smells or other indication of neglect?
3. Check Your Loved One’s Health
During your visit, also check on your loved one’s health. The staff should be able to provide you with a chart listing what medications are given to your loved one, the dosage, and how often each is administered. Also, you can simply use your senses to asses your loved one’s health.
- Has your family member lost or gained a significant amount of weight?
- Do you notice any bruises, scabs, or bedsores on their skin?
- Are they able to breath easily without coughing or struggling?
- Have they experienced a noticeable decline in mobility?
It is important to recognize that health can fade quickly in older populations, so you may see some change in your loved one’s condition, especially if it’s been a while since your last visit. However, if you notice any big changes that the staff did not tell you about, consider that a a red flag.
4. What Is Your Loved One’s Attitude?
As we previously mentioned, it can be difficult to communicate effectively with someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, but you can glean some important information based on their attitude. When you see or talk to your loved one, try to determine:
- Whether they feel happy and upbeat
- Whether they’ve made friends
- Whether they have connected with the staff
- Whether they feel lonely, depressed, or homesick
- Whether they fear for their safety
If your loved one is suffering from depression or homesickness, this is something to bring up with the staff.
5. Assess the Facility
It’s important to see how the memory care facility operates after you’ve placed your family member in its care. What does it look like when you aren’t on the initial tour? When you come into the facility, assess the smell, sound, and sights. Do you notice a lingering bad odor? Is the facility clean and hygienic?
Check out the rooms to make sure they seem safe and comfortable, including your loved one’s bedroom and the activity and dining rooms. Think about the lighting and temperature. Is this a comfortable environment for your loved one?
6. Taste the Menu
The quality of the food that a memory care facility serves is a good indication of how much care and effort they show their residents. Food that is bland or distasteful demonstrates a lack of empathy for residents who have few dietary choices outside of the dining room.
A great memory care facility will serve food that is fresh, healthy, and tasty. Their menu will be varied and will be geared toward both taste and health. If your loved one has an eating restriction, ensure that their food is prepared properly.
If you can, try the food so you’ll know exactly what your loved one is eating.
7. Talk to the Staff Members
The final assessment you should make is the quality of the facility staff. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions about your loved one’s health, attitude, and experiences. Good staff members are highly observant and should be able to give you a lot of information on your loved one’s care, any health concerns, what activities they participate in, and more. The staff members should be attentive to your questions and respectful of your concerns.
The staff should also contact you immediately if your loved one has a health issue or experiences an injury (assuming you are the main point of contact).
While it is a good idea to speak with staff on a regular basis, be respectful of their time. Don’t expect a full report on your loved one each day!
Changing Memory Care Facilities
The absolute best way to keep tabs on your loved one’s care is to visit them regularly or to at least speak with them on a regular basis if you live out of state or out of the country. If you notice that your loved one is not receiving the care they deserve, then don’t hesitate to consider other memory care facility options.
Your loved one has limited control over their experiences at their memory care facility. They cannot leave if they wish. That means it is up to you to be observant if it turns out they are not receiving good care!
If it is time to place a family member in a memory care facility or if you are considering moving them to a new facility in San Diego County, we hope you will consider Sunshine Care. Please visit our website to learn more about our facility, see our menu, view our activities calendar, and schedule a tour.
Categories: Memory Care