When Touring Consider a Different Point of View
When you finally conclude that you need to make a residential placement for a loved one with dementia, it is important to feel equipped to evaluate your options.
Whether you are touring assisted living or memory care communities, there are several components to consider: Is this the right community? Will my loved one feel at home? Will the community provide compassionate care for my loved one? Is there clinical support available onsite?
Family caregivers are typically searching when they are overwhelmed and feeling guilty about placement. During a tour, family members sometimes rely on personal viewpoints instead of considering the needs of their loved one.
To help you with your search for the right place for your loved one we have identified three areas to consider and highlighted common mistakes that families sometimes make.
Seek the Best Memory Care Environment
What You See: Often when visiting an assisted living community, you feel like you’ve entered a resort. You may be impressed with beautiful surroundings, expansive dining rooms, and a myriad of amenities.
What They See: From the perspective of the resident with dementia, these appointments may not be as appealing. A large dining room may be full of noise and too loud for a resident. If you have ever taken your loved one to a new restaurant, you may have encountered trepidations about these large public places.
Although the library seems cozy or the movie theatre grand, residents with dementia will not likely choose to seek out these options on their own.
Suggestion: Find a living environment that will feel like home to the resident, where they will be comfortable. Many times simple and less cluttered is more appropriate.
Find the Right Memory Care Companions
What You See: During a tour, you may witness a myriad of residents, some engaged in activities, while others are socializing. This lively social environment is appealing to family members.
What They See: Residents with dementia are often creatures of habit and migrate to where they are most comfortable. Chaotic environments with activities which are not tailored to their abilities can be overwhelming and overstimulating. Residents will retreat from these settings.
Not all community environments are the same. Other residents may not have the patience of a family member and avoid residents with dementia. Repeated questions, aphasia, and non-engagement in a confusing setting may cause a resident to be ostracized in a group setting.
Suggestion: During your tour, ask to meet some of the residents with dementia and visit their activities. Better understand the community’s approach to programming before making a decision.
Experience a Typical Day in Residential Memory Care
What You See: When touring, you are already planning the layout of your resident’s room: The bed will go here, the sofa will go there, we will bring a large screen tv for that wall, etc. You maybe already visualizing a dream room. Be sure to understand the entire environment that your loved one will be experiencing.
What They See: One of the most important attributes of a move to memory care is creating a sanctuary that is familiar for the resident. A place where they feel literally at home. This link with their lifestyle and “stuff” is why we ask families to bring in their own furniture and elements to decorate the room.
Keep in mind, residents with dementia benefit from being in stimulating environments. So, while their room is cozy and familiar, they will be engaged throughout the day in activities and socializing. In your search for the right environment, look less at the private accommodations and focus more on the activity program. It is breadth and frequency of enriching activities will enable the resident to exercise all their skills and abilities.
Suggestion: Ask about a typical day for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Go through the daily routine and visit the locations that those residents will visit. See the community through the residents’ perspective.
Bottom line: We invite you to change your point of view. When touring a new community, consider the day-to-day experience for your loved one with Alzheimer’s or related dementia. What is appealing to you may not be right for your loved one. Use this comparison guide to make your notes as your tour.