For many caregivers, there comes a point when they are no longer able to take care of their loved one at home.  Choosing a residential care facility-nursing home or an assisted living facility-is a big decision, and it can be hard to know where to start.

  1. It’s helpful to gather information about services and options before the need actually arises.  This gives you time to explore fully all the responsibilities before making a decision.
  2. Determine what facilities are in your area.  Doctors, friends and relatives, hospital social workers and religious organizations may be able to help you identify specific facilities.
  3. Make a list of questions you would like to ask the staff.  Think about what is important to you, such as activity programs, transportation, or special units for people with Alzheimer’s Disease.
  4. Contact the places that interest you and make an appointment to visit.  Talk to the administration, nursing staff, and residents.
  5. Observe the way the facility runs and how residents are treated.  You may want to drop by again unannounced to see if your impressions are the same.
  6. Find out what kinds of programs and services are offered for people with Alzheimer’s Disease and their families.  Ask about staff training in dementia care, and check to see what the policy is about family participation in planning patient care.
  7. Check on room availability, cost and method of payment, and participation in Medicare or Medicaid.  You may want to place your name on a waiting list even if you are not ready to make an immediate decision about long-term care.
  8. Once you have made a decision, be sure you understand the terms of the contract and financial agreement.  You may want to have a lawyer review the documents with you before signing.
  9. Moving is a big change for both the person with Alzheimer’s Disease and the caregiver.  A social worker may be able to help you plan for and adjust to the move.  It is important to have support during this difficult transition.