Tips for choosing a care facility for a loved one with Alzheimer’s

Conducting research, asking the right questions, and visiting facilities are key

Ray Burow avatar

by Ray Burow |

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Caregivers, by definition, provide care, and part of that involves protecting patients or loved ones from physical harm and emotional stress.

Troubling news crossed my desk this week in the form of a story out of Brevard County, Florida. Sadly, an elderly woman with dementia and living in a care facility was allegedly verbally abused and taunted by workers assigned to her care. The workers livestreamed the alleged abuse on social media. They were arrested and charged with video voyeurism and abuse and neglect of an elderly or disabled adult, according to the New York Post.

I read the story but couldn’t watch the accompanying video. It’s just too distressing, and I fear that watching it further victimizes this dear soul.

It’s only a slight comfort that the woman wasn’t physically hurt. But the fact that she was emotionally intimidated is still beyond the scope of basic human compassion. I’m sure it’s the worst fear of family members who’ve placed loved ones in care facilities. My heart goes out to this woman and her family, who undoubtedly made the best decision they could regarding her care.

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Our family was fortunate in caring for my mother, who had Alzheimer’s disease. My sister and I tag-teamed care duties for her. I worked from home and was a stay-at-home mom, so I could care for her when my sister was working. We swapped caregiving duties on my sister’s days off.

We were very protective of our mom — perhaps even overprotective. We always accompanied her in the examining room during doctor appointments and seldom left her care to a third party, because we had each other to fall back on. Our younger sister and older brother and my husband and children also pitched in.

Many, if not most, familial caregivers are on their own in terms of providing care, and they often need a third party to step in and support their efforts. Finding a safe environment shouldn’t be a coin flip or a toss of the dice. Every care facility, regardless of the cost, should provide a safe environment.

Following are some of the ways you can protect your loved one by choosing the best care facility for their needs.

Finding the correct facility for their needs

Before deciding on which care facility to select, you must first answer a few questions. How independent is your loved one? Can they live relatively independently or do they have ongoing health needs, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s? If the latter is true, a higher level of care is required.

Seek out a facility that best meets those needs, and don’t be tempted to minimize them. By hedging the truth, you could end up placing your loved one in a situation that’s less than ideal, particularly if they need assistance walking, in the bathroom, or getting in and out of bed, for example.

Gather research

Unfortunately, the cost of a nursing home or assisted-living facility is always a factor that will affect most decisions regarding placement. Gather information that is available through Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to determine your loved one’s eligibility for assistance from these programs.

Once you know what your family can afford, research the facilities. Find out if they are affordable and will meet your loved one’s needs.

Visit the facilities

When you visit the facilities, use all of your senses. Is it an environment you’d feel comfortable living in? Does it appear to be clean? Do the residents seem well attended to?

It’s also OK to eavesdrop. By doing so, you can determine how the associates address the residents. Do you notice any conflicts? If so, how are they handled?

Remember, you’re on a fact-finding mission and representing your loved one, so feel free to ask questions.

Read online reviews

Look for online reviews of the facilities, but not on their own websites. You can use an online search engine to find them. Of course, keep in mind that disgruntled residents or even competitors can leave poor reviews, so weigh them carefully with what you’ve gathered independently.

Search and compare Medicare-certified facilities

On Medicare’s website, you can search for and compare Medicare-certified nursing homes. Medicare’s online tool searches based on location and can compare the quality of care and staffing of certified facilities.

Investigate changes in demeanor

Finally, once you place your loved one in a facility, pay attention to changes in their demeanor. If something seems off, look into it until you’re satisfied that all is well.

If you are in the process of searching for a care facility for your loved one, I hope these tips help. If you have additional tips you’d like to share, please do so in the comments below.

Note: Alzheimer’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Alzheimer’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease.


Dr. Mary Jo Henderson avatar

Dr. Mary Jo Henderson

I have almost no memory. I am looking for a good doctor, but I have not found one yet. I would appreciate a recommendation. Thank you.

Peggy Striegel avatar

Peggy Striegel

I have Alzheimer’s, early stages, and am going into a San Antonio based facility in the independent section. The facility has 4 levels of care and accepts dogs. Mine is a lovely black and white springer spaniel named Abbye. I think I am looking forward to it, and hope I will like it.


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