More than five million people in the United States live with Alzheimers disease, and that number goes even higher when you factor in other types of memory impairment.

If you have a parent or loved one living with memory loss, you know how important it is to get them the care that they need. Unfortunately, choosing the right residential care facility is difficult, but choosing from senior memory care communities is even harder.

But there are some precautions and tips you can arm yourself with that will make your search go better. You’ll want to visit senior memory care communities in person, rather than basing your assumptions about them on their website or advertising.

When you visit, here are some questions to guide you and help make your decision easier. You might be able to answer some of these questions for yourself just by walking around, but you’ll want to ask a professional for the rest.

Basic Questions to Ask

Above all else, these questions should determine whether or not a place is safe:

  • Can the facility accommodate people at all levels of memory loss, or only those at specific levels?
  • What reasons might be given for asking a resident to leave the facility?
  • Who is in charge of assessing residents’ health and cognitive functioning? How often is this assessment performed?
  • Is each resident given a formal, written plan of care?
  • Does the facility offer assistance for all ADLs, including eating, using the bathroom, and bathing?

Questions Regarding the Facility’s Layout

The facility’s layout can make or break a loved one’s ability to feel comfortable. Ask these questions when you want to learn more about the layout of the facility.

  • If the memory care facility is part of a larger retirement community, is the memory care section separate from the other areas?
  • Is the memory care area contained on the same floor level?
  • Are residents’ rooms shared or private?
  • Is the facility constructed with circular hallways to prevent residents from becoming frustrated by cul-de-sacs?
  • Are there safe walking paths in a secure, enclosed outdoor area?

Questions About Resident Safety

  • Is there high-quality, even lighting in all hallways and common areas?
  • Are all floors non-slip surfaces, including those in bathrooms?
  • Are both the interior and the exterior of the facility secure? What methods do they use to keep track of residents’ whereabouts and activity?

Resident safety is essential. After all, you don’t want your loved one to get lost or treated poorly. While most senior memory care communities offer the best in safety and security, these questions are still worth asking.

Orientation and Comfort Related Questions

It can be easy for a person with memory impairments to become disoriented. Consider these questions when you want to ensure your loved one stays comfortable in their environment:

  • Are all doors and rooms clearly labeled with both words and pictures, to help residents orient themselves?
  • Are residents given “memory boxes” outside of their rooms to help them identify their quarters, and to help caregivers get to know them?
  • Are colors throughout the facility bold, without complex patterns?
  • Do common areas and private rooms offer good natural or faux-natural lighting?
  • Overall, is the facility clean, pleasant, and peaceful?

Questions Regarding Staff Members

The staff members of the senior care facilities will be interacting with your loved one daily. To ensure their needs are being met, ask the staff the following questions:

  • What dementia-specific training have caregivers and staff members received?
  • Does the staff seem to recognize residents by name and personality?
  • Are staff members and caregivers kind and attentive to residents?
  • What is the facility’s staff-to-resident ratio? The ideal ratio is one to seven, especially for later-stage dementia.
  • Is there a CNA, RN, or LVN on staff?
  • How are difficult behaviors — such as mood swings, aggression, and sundown syndrome — handled by staff?
  • What is the policy on restrain use, both chemical and physical?

Questions About Activities and Meals

An active care community is a healthy care community. Health becomes increasingly important as we age, especially when it comes to getting the proper nutrition. Ask these questions to learn more about a facility’s community engagement and nutrition.

  • Do residents appear to enjoy their meals?
  • For residents who are uninterested in food, how does the staff encourage good eating habits? How do they deal with residents who tend to overeat?
  • Does the facility honor special requests or nutritional requirements?
  • Do they offer spiritual or religious services that your loved one might enjoy?
  • What is the facility’s pet policy? Does it have any pets of its own for residents to watch or engage with?
  • What activities are offered for residents to engage in? Do any of them seem like they would appeal to your loved one?
  • Is regular group exercise offered and encouraged for residents who are able to participate?
  • Are there any resources provided to help engage residents’ long-term memories?

Senior memory care communities can seem overwhelming and difficult to navigate. But knowing how to prepare and what to look out for can go a long way in helping you choose the right one. Before you know it, you will have discovered the best of the senior memory care communities for your parent or loved one’s needs.

For more information, don’t hesitate to reach out to Heritage Hills of Oceanside today.