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What to Look for in a Memory Care Home

Memory care, a home for residents who may be physically healthy but require assistance with daily living activities, may be a necessary choice for our loved one. We may be at a point where our loved one is unable to care for themself, and we no longer can care for them. Often, loved one’s needs go beyond the ability of one caregiver. An entire team is needed to offer a safe, healthy, and happy environment. That’s when such a home may be the best choice to keep us and our loved one safe.

I was recently asked about the points to consider when looking for a memory care home, and I thought it could be helpful for some readers to know this, as well. The following list is from the book, Navigating Alzheimer’s. 12 Truths about Caring for Your Loved One. It covers most everything you may wish to think about. Keep in mind your loved one’s current condition when going through this list. Some points are more important for an active loved one than one near the end of their life.


A comprehensive list of points to consider when investigating assisted memory care homes:

- Is the facility privately or publicly owned?

- What accreditation, awards, or citations has it received

- What type of reputation does it have in the neighborhood? Ask neighbors, community agencies, and nearby church and club members if they’ve had experience there.

- What do local physicians know about it?

- Is the décor pleasing?

- Is the facility clean? Does it have a pleasant fragrance—not antiseptic or medical?

- Does the floor plan offer enough room for your loved one to walk?

- What conditions are other residents in? Are they active or mostly in wheelchairs and beds?

- What are the social opportunities? Are residents there on par mentally with your loved one?

- Does the home offer meaningful physical, intellectual and spiritual activities?

- How far is the facility from your home? (This is particularly important if you plan to visit often.)

- Does it offer respite care? If so, trying it for a short stay before making a long-term commitment will be well worth the extra money and effort.

- How far is it from the nearest reputable hospital?

- Does the home have on on-site nursing care?

- Are there doctors on call? Who are they, and what are their accreditations and reputations?

- How often do doctors visit residents?

- What certifications do staff members have? How are they trained?

- What is the resident-to-staff ratio and how does that compare to alternative facilities? How many caregivers are available per resident?

- How do they secure the privacy and safety of residents?

- What is the visitation policy?

- Is the facility able to care for your loved one through the end of their life, even if something should happen to you?

- Is the cost affordable?

- Do they accept long-term care insurance?

- Do they accept Medicaid? At some point government assistance may be necessary even if you are able to pay initially.

For more information on caregiving, especially caregiving to a loved one with dementia, see Navigating Alzheimer’s, The Alzheimer’s Spouse, and Inspired Caregiving.

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