Choosing an Assisted Living Facility for Dementia Patients

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Watching a loved one go through Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can be heartbreaking. Loss of cognitive function can make it difficult for them to live independently. In the earlier stages of these diseases, however, they can often function relatively well, provided they receive some sort of assistance with the tasks of daily living. Receiving care from family members may not be feasible for a variety of reasons, from living far away, to lack of time because of your responsibilities to your own family. An assisted living facility can be a good solution for loved ones who cannot live on their own but whose disease is not so advanced that they require the constant supervision and skilled care of a nursing home. Here are some tips for choosing assisted living facilities for dementia patients.

Types of Assisted Living Facilities

When it comes to choosing an assisted living facility for a dementia patient, some will specifically cater to this patient population with special programs,etc.. while others are equipped to handle dementia patients but function as a general facility.  Facilities that are designed for dementia patients specifically are often referred to as ‘’special care units’’ or ‘’memory care units.’’ There is extra security and other precautions set in place to keep the patient safe.

Features to Look For

A dementia patient will have special needs, and you want to look for facilities that will meet them as best they can. An elderly person without cognitive impairment may have trouble remembering his medication schedule and to take his pills; dementia makes this an even more likely possibility. Does the facility provide assistance with administering medications? Are there rehabilitation programs designed to slow progression of the disease and deal with the more problematic symptoms, such as agitation and aggression? Examples include sensory stimulation, cognitive therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy. Some have even embraced alternative treatments such as art and music, which have strong anecdotal evidence behind them.

Other Considerations

There are several other considerations for choosing the right facility.  What sort of safety devices and measures are in place to prevent wandering or accidents, such as slipping and falling? What is the procedure for dealing with wandering? What is the staff instructed to do for violent outbursts or other behavioral issues. What is the daily routine like? Are there opportunities for residents to engage in their hobbies and interests? Is there a secure outdoor area where your loved one can get fresh air and spend time outdoors? What is the staff to resident ratio? How many patients there have dementia? What sort of training has the staff received about handling these types of residents? How many workers are present during the weekends and holidays? Will there be transportation available for shopping and doctor’s appointments? Under what circumstances would a resident be asked to leave or transferred to a facility with a higher level of care? How are medical emergencies handled? What is covered in the monthly fee and what are any additional costs?

Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about a variety of elder care topics; she recommends you follow the link for more information on Illinois senior housing.

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