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Five Questions to Ask Memory Care Providers


Looking for a memory care community for a parent or other loved one can be an emotional and challenging experience. The good news is that today, as the need for memory support grows, there is a greater selection of communities from which to choose. In addition, the modern approach to memory care is a loving one that is often a more residential vs. institutional setting that supports freedom of choice and promotes individuality.

To help make the right choice, plan to visits each potential community and ask good questions. Here are five questions to be sure to ask and some ideas of what to look for in the community’s response.

  1. What’s your care philosophy? Every memory support program should have an overall philosophy that guides their approach to care and one that team members can easily articulate. A good philosophy will emphasize the importance of focused attention, unconditional love, patience, good listening skills, fostering independence and promoting individuality.
  2. How do you get to know each resident? The community should have protocols for getting to know each resident on a personal basis. Most communities will complete an Individual Care and/or Service Plan before a resident moves in. This document helps them assess the amount and type of care needed as well as notes personal preferences for morning and bedtime rituals and socializing and details about the resident’s life such as careers, hobbies and passions.
  3. How do you promote happiness and wellbeing? Look for caregivers who are focused on preserving a sense of purpose and personal identity for the residents they serve. The ways to accomplish this are as varied and unique as each resident. Some find purpose in helping with community chores, while others enjoy tapping their feet to familiar songs, exercising in rhythm or tending to an outdoor garden. Whatever the activity, it’s important for residents to maintain freedom of choice and the ability to be in charge. Preserving a sense of normalcy is another way to promote wellbeing. This can be accomplished by encouraging residents to keep everyday belongings such as purses, wallets and keys or by providing opportunities for them to complete everyday tasks like making a piece of toast or folding their own laundry.
  4. How do you deal with challenging behaviors? Many people living with dementia experience a loss of social inhibitions. Because of this, some residents may act angry or touch other residents’ belongings. A good caregiver responds with unconditional love and knows that any behavior is a way of communicating needs and not a reflection of who the person is inside.
  5. What is the family’s role? Family members should be able to come and go as they please any time of day or night. Look for a welcoming environment that makes it easy for loved ones to share meals and visit in comfort and privacy. Inquire about the communication process between the care team and family.

While other questions will arise, these five provide a good starting point to help you get a feeling for and an understanding of the culture of each community. Be assured that by personally visiting each community and asking the right questions, you should have enough information to make an informed decision about which memory care community is the best fit for you and your loved one.

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