Like many across the country, my family is part of the ‘Sandwich Generation’. According to a 2013 Pew research report, “nearly half (47 percent) of adults in their 40s and 50s have a parent age 65 or older and are either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child (age 18 or older).” Being in that position means that sometimes difficult choices have to be made. After much consideration, my mother-in-law, who suffers from late stage dementia, was recently placed in a nursing home. Up until that point she was receiving care in her own home, but a recent illness sparked the realization that she would be better cared for in a nursing facility. After that conclusion was reached another wrenching decision had to be made: where would she go? The Alzheimer’s Association has an excellent checklist of questions to ask and things to look for when choosing a facility. For example, in the section regarding services provided at the nursing facility, questions include:
- Do you have an Alzheimer’s program? If so, is it designated as a Special Care Unit, which means the facility is specifically licensed by the state as a special unit?
- What types of behavioral issues are you able to handle?
- Do you keep documentation of all the behavior interventions you use? (Interventions are those things the staff should try in order to change or handle Mom’s behavior BEFORE they suggest medication as a solution.)
- Are there written materials that explain the types of care provided at the facility and the associated costs?
- Is there an active resident and family council that Mom and I can participate in?
- Do you offer transportation services to doctor’s offices, dental appointments, etc.?
- What services are available without leaving the building, such as dental care, vision care, podiatry services, hearing services, hair/beauty salon? Who pays for these services?
- Are rehabilitation services available, such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy or recreational therapy?
Other sections with questions and things to notice include:
- The building and environment
- Resident rooms
- Resident appearance
- Dining and meal service
- Family responsibilities
Please bookmark this checklist for future reference. The Alzheimer’s Association has a wealth of information regarding care and support, research, and advocacy. If you have Alzheimer’s in your family (family history can be a risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease), consider having a discussion about the type of care you would like to receive if at some point it becomes necessary. Having a plan can be helpful during an incredibly stressful time.
Watch “The Nursing Home Decision – Memory and Alzheimer’s Disease” from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine: