Choosing an Alzheimer’s Care Community

In the last two entries, we discussed long-distance caregiving and in-home caregiving, respectively. First we covered the steps to take when caring for a loved one in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s from long-distance. Secondly we included deciding if/when you should move the loved one into your home for more constant care. Odds are; there will come a time when you and your family are no longer able to provide a level of assistance and security your loved one needs. The decision to move a family member into a health care facility is a tough one. Unfortunately, many people wait too long to make a decision, resulting in an elopement, accident or worse. Planning for a move in advance will ease the stress for you, your family and most importantly, your loved one.

As mentioned above, often people wait until the “incident” occurs before seeking a caring community. By this time, they are often desperate to find a place and make a quick, unguided choice. This can be avoided by researching Alzheimer Care communities in your area. You will need to create a list of your loved one’s unique needs. If they have other, serious health issues, they may require “skilled care” in addition to “long-term care.” Before choosing a facility, the Alzheimer’s Association suggests that you:

  • Learn about what care options are available
  • Determine, which will best be able to meet the needs of the individual with Alzheimer’s dementia
  • Anticipate the costs of care ad find resources to help pay for them

In today’s world, most research begins on the internet. Locate your options and visit the facility with questions and concerns. Take a tour of each facility and talk to residents if possible, as well as staff members. If they host a support group for Alzheimer’s dementia, attend a meeting. More than likely, there will be people in the group who have a loved one living at that facility. Talk to them and get their opinions/views on the quality of life. Finding a community that provides the care and the security that is necessary is, of course, essential, but it is also important to find a place that offers a high quality of life as well. Personalized care, stimulating activities and socialization are vital elements in caring for those living with Alzheimer’s dementia. Walking into a place that is lively and friendly will also ease your mind. All too often, people choose a place that seems “clean and safe,” but the mood inside is sullen and sterile. Family and friends may find this atmosphere sad and depressing, possibly causing them to visit less.  Visiting your loved one can help staff better care for them. The more they know about your loved one, the more personalized the care can be. This creates a safe and secure feeling for the resident.
Once you have made a decision, and your loved one has moved into the community, the Alzheimer’s Association suggests following these steps:

  • Work with the managing nurse and/or physician and agree on a time when you can call to get updates on the individual’s condition and progress.
  • Call family, friends and/or other visitors and ask for their observations.
  • When you visit, meet with the staff members who have primary responsibility for your loved one’s care.

From the initial diagnosis to the long-term care community, caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be a daunting and challenging ordeal. With the support of family, friends, communities and local/federal organizations, this trial can be made easier and less stressful for everyone involved. Sharing experiences is another way to support others in a similar situation:
Are you caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s?
How did you choose the right care community for your loved one?
What resources did you use in choosing a community?

We look forward to your comments.

Natalie Pic

Meet the Author


Natalie has compiled over eighteen years experience providing outstanding care to people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. In addition to being a certified Alzheimer’s and dementia care trainer, McFarland is a licensed continued education instructor for nurses and social workers through the Illinois Department of Professional Regulations. She has also developed several Alzheimer’s research partnerships. Included in those projects were Dr. Virginia Cruz, Ph.D., RN, Associate Professor of SIUE and Dr. George Grossberg, M.D., Medical Director of the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology at Saint Louis University. Natalie is a graduate of Southern Illinois University.