Choosing A Memory Care Unit For A Loved One With Dementia

Choosing A Memory Care Unit For A Loved One With Dementia

The decision to place a loved one with dementia into a care facility is certainly not an easy one, but is often the best option. As the disease progresses, the person requires a level of care and supervision that many people just cannot provide adequately. Being under the care of professionals is the most feasible and safe option. Because of the nature of this disease, there are additional concerns one will have when it comes to choosing a facility that wouldn’t need to be considered for someone without dementia. This can seem like a daunting task for sure, but when you learn more about what to look for and what questions to ask, you will feel more confident in evaluating your options.

What to Know about a Memory Care Units

A facility that provides a memory care unit has received additional state certification to provide care to patients with dementia, including Alzheimer’s. This typically entails additional, specialized staff training, additional systems in place to ensure safety, special activity programming designed specifically for this population and certain educational requirements for management staff. These places receive a special certification number designating them as memory care centers so always check that they have this number.

Staff Qualifications

When choosing an assisted living facility with memory care services, it is important to check on the qualifications of the staff. Inquire as to what specific training and education the staff has that makes them equipped to work with dementia patients. This is a very specialized area of care, and basic training one would receive when working in a standard assisted living facility environment would be insufficient. While on the subject of staff, you want to know the ratio of patients to one staff member—an ideal one would be six to one.


Keeping dementia patients engaged, alert, entertained and interested is absolutely crucial for optimal care and overall well-being. Stimulation is very important for this condition. You want a facility that offers a wide variety of programs that will meet these ends. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and get more in-depth information about the activities, the benefits, etc… It is also a good idea to consider a place that offers programs and support for family members, who are dealing with a variety of stressors related to their loved one’s condition.

Medical Care

This is obviously one of the most important things about which to inquire. How often do doctors visit the facility? What happens when there is an emergency? Are residents able to visit their own doctors? What hospital is the facility affiliated with?

Full Understanding of Fees

As you probably already know, care facilities aren’t cheap, and price is likely a factor in your decision-making process. Make sure you have a full understanding of all fees. What does the base fee cover? What doesn’t it cover? What sort of services would be considered ‘extra’ and at what cost? Ask about fee increases and all available payment options.