Are You Looking for Memory Care in Assisted Living?

Posted on June 22, 2015 by Anne Ellett

Memory Care in Assisted LivingRecently 2 different families contacted me about urgently helping them find a good location for care for their loved one affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

In one case, the gentleman was already living in Assisted Living but no one had picked up that he had a urinary tract infection (UTI).  The infection became severe and he required hospitalization (a hospitalization that probably could have been avoided if the staff had been attentive to changes in his demeanor and activity).  Now that he was being discharged from the hospital, his daughter didn’t want him to return to the same Assisted Living.

In the second case, the woman lives at home with her spouse and she has had a couple falls at night, one breaking her arm.  The family was looking for a place where both of the parents could live together, but have assistance during the night.

How do you know what to look for when you are looking for memory care in Assisted Living?

This is a very complex topic, but here are some quick tips:

Licensed or registered nursing, on-site, 24 hours a day, is a big plus! Over 70% of people living in Assisted Living have cognitive impairments and over 90% have multiple chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, hypertension, or cardiac disease that require regular monitoring.  If nursing is not available, small health problems (such as UTI’s) can become emergencies and the person is faced with the trauma and expense of what could have been a preventable hospitalization.

•  Beautiful buildings don’t necessarily equate to excellent care. We would all love to reside in lovely places but when you tour a location, pay extra attention to the number of staff, how they are engaged with the residents, the tone of their voice when speaking to residents, how the residents are groomed, and what type of activities are going on.


•  Good dementia care requires specialized training. Ask about what type of training both the leadership and the staff receive.  Is the training on-going or only when they are initially hired?  As you tour, stop and talk with staff and ask them about their training.


•  Ask for names and contact information of other families who have loved ones living there. Talking directly with family members can be invaluable – inquire how long their loved one has lived there, how responsive the staff is to care concerns, and how satisfied they are with the care.  What do they consider the positives and negatives of having a loved one live in that Assisted Living location?


•  If possible, start your search early and take your time.   Unfortunately, with these 2 families I am currently assisting, we don’t have a lot of time but I recommend that when possible, begin to visit local Assisted Living locations even if you don’t think you’ll be using them.


You’ll learn a lot if you visit places more than once and at different times of the day. You can stop in unannounced and see how you are received.  Ask to meet with the Administrator and the nurse to hear from them what type of services they can offer your loved one affected by dementia.  And review the cost of care in detail – if the Assisted Living charges for various “levels of care”, the monthly cost can be a surprise – be sure you have all the details on their charges.  And good memory-care locations may be full and have a waiting list – go ahead and put yourself on the waiting list!

If you would like to learn more about how to choose an Assisted Living location that can provide good care for your loved one living with dementia, contact me at: 

Posted in Alzheimers, dementia, memory care, nursing