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Caring for a loved one suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s can be very hard. Your loved one may have lost some communication skills, and diseases that cause dementia come with complex and subtle changes in behavior and function. Taking a proactive approach to your loved one’s future care needs is crucial.

Here are some common signs that may indicate your loved one is no longer safe living alone.

  • Forgetting about food cooking on the stove or in the oven
  • Neglecting hygiene and/or personal care
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Paranoia or hallucinations
  • Difficulty carrying on a conversation
  • Struggling with paying bills and managing finances
  • Getting lost in familiar surroundings

While having your loved one move in with a family member can be a positive temporary arrangement, as memory loss progresses, finding a memory care community may be the best option for your loved one’s future. Doing your research in advance ensures a smooth transition when your loved one is ready.

When it’s time to consider a memory care facility, there are a number of factors to look at. While every community varies in structure and support, there are some vital components to consider. Here are the top tips to help you evaluate prospective memory care communities for your loved one.

  • Staffing: A staff that is experienced and a low turnover rate are both good signs. Asking how many staff changes there are and how much additional regular training staff receive are indicative of the community’s standards of care.
  • Environment: Because loved ones with memory loss may wander and get lost, even in familiar surroundings, it’s important that your loved one’s community has a secure environment.
  • Enrichment activities: Structure and routine are very important for memory care. Offering a variety of life enrichment activities and experiences is key to meeting your loved one’s emotional, spiritual, and physical needs.
  • Positive language: Look for a community where a homelike setting is prioritized by listening for a specific language. For example, instead of “locked unit,” “secure neighborhood.”
  • Individualized care: Ask about the care plans for residents. Are families able to participate in care plan development? How and when are plans assessed and updated?
  • State survey: Each memory care program undergoes state inspections, and those results are public. You can ask for a copy from the community or get one online from your state’s website.

These signs and tips should help you with the decision-making process in your loved one’s care.