Choosing an Assisted Living Facility for a Loved One With Dementia

When choosing an assisted living facility for a loved one who suffers from dementia, certain things should be taken into account regarding the facility. More and more assisted living facilities can now accommodate residents with various levels of dementia. Some facilities have separate wings or dementia units. I have visited many assisted living facilities, and have many clients with loved ones in assisted living facilities. In addition, I have made personal observations about the quality of care for persons with dementia in these facilities.

Music: My wife’s mother, who is 89, has advanced Alzheimers disease, and has been in an assisted living facility for a number of years. Although she does not seem to recognize her children, she does respond very positively 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 have noticed this for many residents with dementia, when I have played jazz piano for them in various facilities. Also, on researching the subject, it seems that music is processed and understood through a different part of the brain, usually with positive results.   As a result, find out if the facility you are interested in arranges for music to be played or performed for the residents on a regular basis.

Religious Services: Another item to take into account, is whether the facility is consistent with your religious beliefs. If the resident and family are religious, it will be important for them to have the facility provide religious services for their loved one during all phases of dementia. When my father, who was Catholic, was in an assisted living facility,  I know that he cherished receiving communion every week.  

Behavior: Find out whether the facility will be able to accommodate your loved one during all stages of the disease process. 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. You will find out more if you are very specific.  

 Written Michael J. Young, lawyoung1@gmail.com, elder law attorney in Walnut Creek, CA. www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com mike@WalnutCreekElderLaw.com. 1931 San Miguel Dr., Suite 220, Walnut Creek, CA 94596. 925-256-0298. Mr. Young, who also advises on Medi-Cal qualification, asset protection, nursing homes and the VA Aid & Attendance qualification, serves Contra Costa and Alameda Counties in CA, including the cities of Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, Concord, Brentwood, Pleasant Hill, Antioch, Clayton, etc.

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