What should I look for when selecting an Alzheimer’s care facility?

First, it is essential that you personally visit each center on your list. Check out the environment. Is the center clean and orderly? Does it appear safe and peaceful? Is the atmosphere warm and homelike? Ask about the specialized programming being offered and how it is customized to each individual. You will also want to find out how the staff deals with common behavioral problems such as losing interest in eating, wandering or becoming depressed. As you tour the center, observe how staff members interact with the people in their care and whether the residents are appropriately dressed, clean and well-groomed. Finally, don’t hesitate to ask to speak to current residents’ family members. They can be a great source of information and insights.

How should I go about choosing a hospice provider?

 The goal of a hospice provider is to ensure that your loved one spends his or her final days free of pain, in peace and comfort. It can be a demanding job, so in choosing a provider you will want to ask about the staff’s experience, knowledge and approach to care. Are the counselors well trained in end-of-life care? Are they focused on meeting specific needs and fulfilling the expressed wishes of your loved one and his or her family? Does the support offered extend to body, mind and spiritual well-being? Check to see if the provider has testimonials from satisfied families and whether it is possible to speak with them. You should also determine if the provider is accredited by CHAP (Community Health Accreditation Program), whose goal is to define and promote the finest quality community-based care.

As an at-home caregiver, I worry about being able to meet all my loved one’s growing needs. Where can I turn for help?

As the adult child or spouse of an aging or ill loved one, feelings of guilt, concern and even fear can make reaching out for help difficult, but it is often essential both to your well being and that of your loved one. Our Admissions team will be happy to discuss community support programs that are available in your area. We will also provide useful educational materials and information on our services, including respite care, which will allow you to take a needed temporary break from the demands of daily care giving.

What should I consider once the decision has been made to move my loved one to a long-term care setting?

Making the move to a long-term care can is never easy. However, once the decision has been made there are a number of important factors to consider when choosing a long-term care setting. Answering the following questions can help you pick the center that is the best fit for your loved one and make the transition go as smoothly as possible.

  • What are your loved one’s dietary likes and dislikes?
  • How mobile is he or she?
  • How much of his or her personal care and hygiene can your loved one manage?
  • What was your loved one’s former living conditions like?
  • What degree of support did he or she have at home?
  • What role does religion play in his or her life?
  • What are your loved one’s daily routines, habits, hobbies and favorite activities?
  • Is he or she experiencing diminished mental capacity and memory loss?
  • Is your loved one apprehensive about new surroundings?
  • Does he or she enjoy socialization and meeting people?

I’m concerned about the flu and potentially passing it on to my elderly family members. What preventive measures should I take?

Always check with your physician, but the best way to avoid the flu is by getting an anti-flu vaccination. The service is readily available and inexpensive or often free of charge. You can also cut down your chances of picking up germs or spreading them by washing your hands frequently, avoiding large crowds during flu season, and not visiting others when you’re feeling ill. Additional information on the flu and flu vaccine can be found on www.cdc.gov.

I find that visiting my loved one at the long-term care center sometimes leaves me feeling uncomfortable. How can I make it more enjoyable and fulfilling for both of us?

Our long experience has shown that visitors are very important to our residents and that with a little planning a visit can be rewarding for both of you. Start by contacting the facility and talk to the staff to determine the best time to visit your loved one. If you will be accompanied by young children, coach them on what to expect and decide on an activity you can do together. Working on a photo album, writing letters, playing a game or enjoying a family meal are just some of the possibilities. If your loved one is physically able, consider planning an activity outside the center. If your center allows it, bringing cherished pets for a visit is another great option.