Questions to Ask When Researching Memory Care Options for a Loved One

October 30, 2018

EC Memory Loss.jpgIf you are beginning the journey of researching memory care settings for a loved one with dementia you might be feeling overwhelmed with the options available and even struggle to understand where to begin. At Emerald Crest by Augustana Care, we often work with family members who are feeling overcome by the emotions and worry about making the decision to find the best care for their loved one. 

Generally, many people start to scratch the surface with the simple questions such as: 

  • Do you offer memory care support?
  • Do you currently have openings?
  • What are the costs and fees involved as well as payment options available?
  • What are the apartment size options and which amenities are included?

But as you start to dig in you will find it is much more complicated and realize not one memory care setting is the same as the next. Below is a list of items we feel are thoughtful topics of conversation as well as common questions we hear from family members and caregivers. We believe discussing these topics will help you make an informed and confident decision for your loved one. 

Top ten questions to ask a memory care community during a visit and some thoughts for each:

  1. Is the community small and home-like or large and institutional? Smaller, home-like environments are preferable. Residents with cognitive conditions become easily confused in institutional settings where everything looks the same.
  2. Is housing all on one level? This is preferable for residents with cognitive conditions who are at greater risk of falling or becoming disoriented. 
  3. Are there circular areas designated for wanderers, or are the hallways long with dead ends? Residents with conditions like Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia often seem compelled to wander. Dead ends can make them agitated and frustrated.
  4. What is the noise level? Is the building insulated to reduce noise? A low noise level is best for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias because their senses are easily overloaded.
  5. Is the care community for people with cognitive conditions physically separate from the rest of the care community? Lucid patients and those with cognitive issues have different needs. Too much interaction between them can disturb both sets of residents.
  6. What is the staff-to-resident ratio? Does the 24-hour supervision include awake overnight caregivers? Is nursing available onsite 24/7 or available on call when not on the campus?
  7. What is the difference in training for staff in the dementia care unit? Is an Alzheimer’s or dementia specialist on staff and available on a consulting basis? Is dementia specific training reviewed annually?
  8. How do services in the special care unit differ from services in the rest of the care community? At what level of care needed would my loved one be moved to another unit or setting? Can my loved one receive hospice care in your setting?
  9. If a resident exhibits ________behavior, how would the staff react? (Examples: tearful, combative, accusatory, asking repetitive questions – fill in the blank with a behavior your loved one tends to experience.)
  10. What does the daily schedule look like and how are the activities designed for residents with memory impairmentA more structured daily program that creates a rhythm of the day for the person with dementia helps reduce confusion, depression, and helps them to function to their highest ability. Too much down time without purposeful activity may increase behaviors and agitation.

There are many more questions and more topics to consider and research when making an informed decision on the care of your aging loved one, but hopefully this offers a start. To learn more, click here

With four locations in Burnsville, Minnetonka, Victoria, and Shakopee, Minnesota, Emerald Crest by Augustana Care senior care communities are truly inspired by our residents and families. With a deep knowledge of memory care, we offer a specialized assisted living setting for seniors with Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related conditions. This experience allows us to create opportunities and personalized care for your loved one that goes beyond conventional senior memory care. Contact us today if you have questions or would like to schedule a tour. 



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I will never forget the time we returned our mother to Emerald Crest after a day of shopping. My mother wanted to stay out longer but just couldn't. We all felt sad taking her back. When we entered,  immediately two nurse's assistants enveloped my mom in a huge hug. Her face immediately had a smile and off she was to stay and talk to these beautiful assistants. My mother truly feels the wonderful love of these dedicated workers.

— Theresa, daughter of resident