5 questions to ask an assisted living facility | Alzheimer’s Disease

Those with loved ones who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia have one question to ask themselves:  Do I care about my mother or father, husband or wife, or do I care about myself?


The answer to this question may seem obvious, but sadly, many people do not answer correctly.


Family caregivers looking for the right assisted living arrangement often choose the facility that makes them feel good about themselves, rather than the facility that is truly right for the resident. 


Usually, this means they choose the best looking facility, rather than the facility with the best level of care.  By paying more, and by choosing a great looking facility, individuals feel that they are not skimping on their loved ones’ care.


In a previous posting, we discussed the basics of how to choose the right overall level of care.  Now, we will discuss five key questions to ask in order to find the right assisted living facility.



1.  What is the facility’s overall staff-to-resident ratio?


The most important factor in determining a facility’s level of care is the staff ratio.  The more caregivers a facility has on shift at any given point, the more services it can provide to the residents.


Facilities with a high staff ratio provide more services, provide more personalized attention, can handle more intense monitoring of each resident, and can provide the manpower necessary to take residents to activities and help them participate.


Facilities with alzheimer's assisted living facility, alzheimer's blog, alzheimer's questions to ask assisted living facilitya low staff ratio must charge extra fees for a wider range of services, provide less personalized attention and monitoring, and cannot provide the same assistance with activities.


This is especially important, considering that many large facilities like to tout their comprehensive activities programs.  Without the ability for the residents to attend and participate, the activities program is useless.


2.  What is the nature of the overall resident population?


Your loved ones are most likely to thrive in an environment with other residents on their level.  If your loved one is largely independent, perhaps at an early stage of dementia, he or she would need a facility with other residents that are more independent.


Conversely, a resident whose dementia is more progressed is likely to feel shunned by residents in a more independent setting.  In this case, he or she would need a smaller facility with similarly progressed residents.


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3.  How engaged is the facility’s management?


Very often, managers and administrators of facilities both large and small are somewhat removed from the residents’ direct care.  This is a mistake.


While caregivers almost always perform the bulk of services for a particular resident, having an informed, engaged management is crucial.


An engaged administrator will more tightly oversee the caregivers, scrutinize resident charts and other aspects of care, and can act as an advocate for the resident in all situations, including issues with outside medical professionals.  This is something caregivers simply cannot do.



4.  How effective is the facility’s administrator at running a business?


Many people mistakenly feel that if a facility is run like a business, the management must not care about the residents.  This thinking is false.


All facilities are businesses, and must be run as such.  Failure to do so will mean a difficultly or inability to keep the facility open and running.


Good business owners want happy clients.  Keeping a high standard of care will ensure that the residents and their families are happy.  In addition, a stronger bottom line will mean more investment in the appearance of the facility as well as the services.



5.  What is the facility’s overall philosophy?


Facility administrators often believe that their job is to simply make residents comfortable for the remaining days of their lives.  What they forget about is the cornerstone of care for the elderly… dignity.


When making a decision of this nature, make sure to choose the facility that will try to engage and stimulate your loved one, encouraging him or her to try to replicate, to the best of his or her ability, the life that he or she has led.  A full range of activities, including activities that encourage the resident to reminisce, are critical.


Facilities with the wrong philosophy want their residents to be comfortable.  Facilities with the right philosophy want their residents to thrive.


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