Witnessing your loved one’s memory and essence begin to slip away due to Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia is heartbreaking. For adult children and other caregivers, this can lead to additional stress, along with guilt when they realize their loved one needs more care than they can provide alone. As the condition advances, many families are faced with the decision of where and from whom a loved one can receive the best memory care.
As experts have learned more about dementia and the very specific needs of those suffering from it, specialized memory care communities have emerged around the country. That includes the Memory Support residences at Stevenson Oaks in Fort Worth, Texas. Here, residents receive the compassionate mental, emotional and physical care they need from specially trained professionals.
But how does a family decide which memory care option is best for their loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia? The list of questions and considerations below will help you navigate the process and ensure you choose a memory care community like Stevenson Oaks that is not only skilled and safe, but also delivers person-centered care with respect, gentleness and dignity.
The first thing to keep in mind is, don’t be shy about asking a lot of questions and definitely ask probing questions. You need to feel absolutely comfortable that your loved one will be well cared for in every way — especially considering they may not be able to speak for themselves or let you know if there’s an issue.
Above all, listen to your intuition. It’s imperative that you feel at ease with the answers you receive and with what you see and experience on your tour.
Before you arrange a tour of a community like Stevenson Oaks, get together with family members to discuss questions you want answered. Then review the list below to include additional questions you may not have considered:
1. What is the staff-to-resident ratio? Ideally, it should be at least one staff member to every six residents. Memory care residents need extra attention and need to be checked on more often.
2. Who is in charge of staff overall? A medical professional should be responsible for overseeing the staff, at least during the day. And that person should be easily accessible overnight.
3. What individuals perform daily care, and what is their training? Ideally, there should be a mix of RNs, LPNs and aides available at all times, and all staff should receive ongoing, annual specialized dementia training. Make sure the facility is accredited and inquire if any of the staff are certified dementia care managers.
4. How do you integrate with hospice for end-of-life care? Make sure the facility is set up to provide care through end-of-life and ask about what protocol is in place to work together with a hospice team when the time comes, including how and when end-of-life drugs such as morphine are used.
5. Can the community’s senior living counselors explain a typical day and night of care? You need to understand how the facility is staffed day and night. Also, how activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, eating) are handled, and when, as well as bed checks, assistance with getting out of bed, etc.
6. How will chronic conditions such as diabetes be monitored and managed? Ensure that the staff is trained to do this, and also discuss protocols for administering medications and injections.
7. What are the safety protocols —how is wandering controlled, and how are agitation, aggression and other difficult dementia behaviors handled? Not all memory care communities handle these behaviors in the same way. You need to be comfortable with what you’re told.
8. What types of care can NOT be provided or might indicate that this memory care community is not a good fit? If your loved one’s health needs constant monitoring or they are not on hospice care and still receiving certain types of proactive medical care, a nursing home may be a better option.
9. What is the protocol for regular communications with the family, and what happens if your loved one has a medical emergency? Discuss a few scenarios with the facility director to understand the “what-ifs” and make sure you’re comfortable with the answers.
10. What services are included in the monthly fee and which ones are not? You may have to pay extra for TV, medication, higher care levels, outings, etc.)
11. What types of rooms are available? Some facilities only offer semiprivate rooms; some have shared bathrooms. Others have private rooms with their own bathrooms. Be sure to get a full tour to assess what’s available.
12. If your loved one needs a hospital stay or rehab stay for a lengthy period, will their room be held for them? Ask how this scenario would work and how it might affect costs.
13. What does the weekly activity schedule include? Safe mental and physical stimulation is important for dementia residents. Ask what training the staff has in developing and executing appropriate activities. Ensure that your loved one will spend time up, dressed, and out in the common areas regularly, and that they will be included as much as possible in all activities, as well as dining.
14. How many meals are included in the monthly fee and are snacks included? Additionally, ask if the facility allows you to bring a small refrigerator for personal beverages and personal snacks.
15. What fall prevention and other safety measures are in place? Check for hallway bars, grab bars, gates, safe flooring, etc., and ask about devices such as chair lifts, lifts to help get your loved one out of bed and into a wheelchair, shower chairs, etc.
We’d like to share more about memory support at Stevenson Oaks in Fort Worth, Texas. To start a confidential conversation about Alzheimer’s or dementia care, reach out to us and we’ll be in touch to answer your questions and arrange a tour.