Questions to Ask When Choosing a Memory Care Community
A categorized checklist of questions to ask memory care facilities while searching for a community for your loved one.
Today’s memory care communities are working to improve the quality of life for those who have Alzheimer’s and dementia. Evaluating memory care communities means that you’ll need to ensure that your loved ones needs are met, that their care is compassionate, and the new caregivers are specialized in Alzheimer’s and dementia. If you have been in the role of caregiver, relinquishing it may not be easy, but the move will be worthwhile for yourself and your loved one.
While there are many communities in your local area, they’re vastly different. As you begin to evaluate the options and perform your due diligence, you’re going to wonder what questions you should ask memory care facilities to ensure they meet your criteria. To assist in your search for a memory care community, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of questions by category to ask during initial phone calls and tours of the community.
Memory Care Services Questions
Choosing a memory care community that will provide specialized, compassionate care for your loved one is very important. Memory care communities provide therapeutic programs that may improve memory impairment issues, wandering frequency and other behavioral issues. The community should serve residents with quality care, meeting them where they are cognitively, ensuring that their Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and medical needs are fulfilled.
- What is your staffing ratio in memory care?
- Is your memory care unit secure?
- How many residents live here?
- What type of dementia specific training does your staff receive?
- Do your staff members have a certification or degree?
- Do you have staff available 24/7?
- Do you require a background check for staff?
- How close are you to the nearest hospital?
- Can I continue to use the same health care providers?
- Can staff administer medication?
- Do you have an in-house physician?
- Is your community licensed and inspected?
- Is the same caregiver consistently assigned?
- Do you allow hospice or end of life care?
- Do we have to use your pharmacy?
- Do you offer transportation to doctor appointments?
Memory care facilities offer a variety of meal plans and dining options. While there are many commonalities between communities, asking questions regarding the dining options will help you to better understand what type of dining program you or your loved one prefers.
- How many meals are covered per day/Is there a meal plan?
- Is there variety day-to-day/week-to-week?
- Are snacks included?
- What kind of beverages are included?
- What is the pricing on menu items?
- Can I look at a current menu? (Ask for a copy)
- Can friends/family join you for dinner?
- Are you required to reserve meal times?
- Who will you be seated with during meals?
- Do you offer private dining for special events?
- What if you’re still hungry after meals?
- Can you request meal variations or substitutions?
- Are meals covered by a nutrition plan?
- Can they eat in their room if they are sick?
- Can your loved one be taken out of the community with someone for a meal?
Social interactions play a crucial role in the quality of life for memory care residents. Most people will prioritize the care, meals and costs of a community, but ensuring that there are events and activities keep your loved one social, plays an important role in their well-being. Social activities offer benefits such as cognitive stimulation, the opportunity to connect with others, comfort and relaxation.
- Is someone at the head of your social department?
- Does your activities schedule offer diversity in programs?
- Do you plan trips outside of the community?
- How do you get residents involved in activities?
- How many people attend activities?
- What does your activities schedule look like? (Ask for a copy)
- What are your most-attended events?
- Do you have other age groups visit? (kids programs, teenage volunteers)
- Do you personalize activities to meet the individual needs of your residents?
Wellness plays an important role in the life of seniors and encourages them to continue to be active. Staying active helps keep muscles, joints, and the heart in good shape. Incorporating Wellness assists in appetite stimulation, promotes better sleep and regular toileting.
- Is someone at the head of your wellness department?
- How do you get residents who haven’t worked out involved?
- Is there diversity in your wellness schedule?
- Does your team have a certification or a degree?
- Do you have a pool?
- Do you have a wellness center/training room?
- Who leads the classes?
- How do you sign up for classes?
- How do you modify the workouts to meet the needs of each resident?
- Do you go off-site for wellness activities?
- What is your most popular wellness class?
Affordability and pricing are the top questions people ask when looking for a memory care community. The types of services that your loved one will require, the amount of care, the size of the community all impacts pricing. Be sure to dig deep when it comes to hidden costs, some communities may claim to be “all-inclusive” but that term differs between each. “All-inclusive” may mean the home has utilities included, but it also many mean that housing, meals and care services are included, make an informed decision and be sure to ask.
- Are there levels of care?
- What are your plans and pricing structure?
- Do you offer financial assistance?
- Do you accept long-term care insurance?
- Is there an entrance fee?
- Is there a buy-in?
- What does the price cover?
- What doesn’t the price cover?
- Is transportation included?
- Is this tax deductible?
- What is the difference in pricing if moved to a different type of care? (ie. from memory care to skilled nursing)
Visits from family and friends impact a residents overall health in a positive way. Ensuring that the community offers activities, meal options, common spaces and visitation for friends and family means that there will be opportunities to connect and enjoy time with your loved one.
- Can family/friends join their loved ones for meals?
- Are there family/friend activities available?
- What time can family/friends visit?
- Can family/friends stay overnight in a residents home?
- Is there a guest room/suite available to stay in?
- Are there support groups available on-site?
- Can my family volunteer at the community?
Don’t be afraid to ask additional questions about homes, security, comfort, seasonality, home maintenance, state inspections and more. A good senior living representative will be forthcoming with all of these requests and assist you in finding a community that is compatible with your loved ones your needs.
- Do you have security on-site after hours?
- Is the community gated?
- Do you allow pets?
- What happens in case of inclement weather? (Hurricanes, Forest Fires, Blizzards, etc.)
- What amenities can residents use within the community?
- Do you have a maintenance team?
- Do you offer housekeeping/laundry services?
- Does your apartment come furnished?
- Is their apartment shared or private?
- Is their bathroom shared or private?
- Can you provide a layout of available apartments?
- Are the apartments customizable?
- Do you have any additional location/properties in your company?
- Are you a continuing care retirement community? (CCRCs offer a full continuum of care, making it easier to transition to a different level of care, should the need arise)
- Ask to see a state survey or Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) evaluation
- Do you have spa/salon services?
While there are many questions that you can ask a memory care community far beyond this list, this is a thorough checklist to get you started. As you’re visiting communities, don’t be afraid to ask the questions as it’ll be your loved ones home and you’ll want them to feel comfortable. Be sure to speak with current residents/families to hear their experience with the community and ask to bring your loved one for a meal so they can get a feel of the community. Visually inspecting the community including furnishings, floors/baseboards and ceilings will help you get a better understanding of the community’s hygiene, cleanliness and attention to detail. Trust your gut when it comes to making this decision and if it feels wrong then don’t be afraid to walk way. If you’ve read down to here, you’re well on your way to making a sound and informed decision for your loved one.