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Elder Law Today Newsletter | January, 2014


Choosing an Assisted Living Facility For a Loved One With Dementia

Happy New Year! We would first like to wish all of our clients and our friends who are elder care professionals, a very healthy and prosperous New Year. We would also like to thank all of you for the referrals that you have made to our office over the last year. It is very much appreciated. We hope to continue our relationship with all of you in 2014.


I have visited many assisted living facilities, and have many clients with loved ones in assisted living facilities. I have found that when choosing an assisted living facility for a loved one who suffers from dementia, certain things should be taken into account regarding the facility. I offer the following suggestions:

Stages of Behavior: Find out whether the facility will be able to accommodate your loved one during all stages of the disease. More and more assisted living facilities can now accommodate residents with various levels of dementia and many facilities have separate wings or dementia units. It is important to plan for the future, as the disease may progress and become worse. Ask the facility what behaviors would trigger them to say that they can no longer accommodate your loved one. Also, ask how they would handle the behavior of your loved one if he or she becomes aggressive, loud, or acts out. Ask specific questions regarding any behavior issues concerning your loved one.

The Power of Music: My wife’s mother, who is 92, has advanced dementia disease, and has been in assisted living facilities for years. Although she does not seem to recognize her children, she does respond very much to music. When music is played for her, or if someone performs or sings for her, her face lights up. She smiles, and tries to sing. I notice this in many residents with dementia, when I have an opportunity to play jazz piano for them in various facilities. Additionally, research shows that music is processed and understood through a different part of the brain, usually with positive results in dementia patients. You may want to find out if the facility you are interested in arranges for music to be provided and/or performed for the residents on a regular basis.

Religious Services: Another item to take into account is whether the facility can accommodate the religious needs of your loved one. If the prospective resident and his family are religious, it will be important to know if the facility provides religious services for their loved one during all phases of dementia. My Catholic father was in an assisted living facility that arranged for my father to receive Communion every week, which was very meaningful to him.

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