Sunshine in store for Memorial Day weekend

4 seniors: Picking the right care facility for your loved one

OKLAHOMA CITY – Choosing a good memory care residential facility for a loved one is a very important decision.

Most memory care units are housed within assisted living centers. At their best, they offer specialized care for people with dementia and individualized care. At their worst, they can offer little more than a locked door.

To identify a good facility:

  • Make a list- Ask your parent’s doctor for a referral, and use the Alzheimer’s Association online tool. Make sure the facilities on your list are close to family members and friends who can visit often.
  • Research your options – Once you’ve made a list, contact your local long-term care ombudsman, a government official who investigates assisted living and nursing home complaints and can tell you which facilities have had problems in the past. If you’re looking at a memory care unit within a nursing home, use Medicare’s nursing home compare tool. 
  • Call the facilities – If they provide the types of services your parent needs, what they charge and if they accept Medicaid.
  • Tour your top choices – During your tour, notice the cleanliness and smell of the facility. Does the staff seem responsive and kind. Be sure to taste the food and talk to the current residents’ family members. Also, find out about staff screening and training procedures, their turnover rate, and the staff-to-resident ratio. They should have at least one staff member for every five residents.

You should also make sure the facility has activities that can keep your parent engaged, even at night when he or she may be awake. Ask how they respond to residents who may wander or become aggressive. If the answer is locked doors and anti psychotic drugs, that’s a red flag.

It’s also a good idea to make multiple visits to the facility, including an unscheduled visit at night or on weekends when the staff is more likely to be stretched thin.

The Alzheimer’s Association offers a checklist to help.

  • Paying for care- The average cost in Oklahoma is around $4,000 per month, and around $6,000 a month for nursing home care. Since Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care, most residents pay from personal savings, a long-term care insurance policy or through Medicaid.