Anne Osmer Reporting
The Alzheimer’s Association recently compiled a checklist of talking points and helpful hints to aid families considering long-term care for a loved one:
1. Determine if it is time to talk about long-term care facilities.
Reasons to seek long-term care vary from person to person. In addition to potentially offering a safer and more comfortable environment, long-term care may be beneficial for the mental and physical health of the caregiver.
To ensure your loved one is able to contribute to his or her future, introduce alternate housing options as early as possible, before it becomes necessary. Ask him or her questions about lifestyle or health-related challenges. Continue the conversation over time by sharing your observations and concerns.
2. Schedule a family meeting.
A family meeting can move the topic of long-term care to a more focused discussion that can lead to a plan. The following is a checklist for planning your family meeting:
• Determine who should be involved directly or indirectly in decision-making. This may include extended family members, close friends or paid caregivers. Always include the person with Alzheimer’s disease if he/she is capable of taking part in any decision-making.
• Consider including an independent third party as a mediator. This could be a minister or other member of the clergy, a social worker or case manager.
• If necessary, find a neutral place to hold the meeting.
• Prepare an agenda to help you stay focused.
3. Continue to involve family.
The move to a long-term care facility is an immense transition for any family, so it’s important to involve everyone close to the person with Alzheimer’s disease.
• Reach out to family to secure their input and support. For example, share online information about long-term care facilities to get greater involvement and participation.
• If there are unequal expenditures of finances or time among family members, acknowledge the distribution of resources and discuss a strategy for achieving a balance that appeals to everyone.
4. Continue to engage the person with Alzheimer’s Disease
• Have ongoing conversations on “good days” at times when your loved one is feeling best and there are few distractions.
• Introduce the idea of an overnight stay in a long-term care facility or an extended afternoon visit to get a feel for the various options available.
5. Begin researching long-term care options in your area.
• Go to Senior Housing Finders on alz.org to access a free, nationwide dementia-specific senior housing database that provides information about what level of dementia-care service individual facilities can support.
• Contact potential facilities to ask questions and schedule a site visit.
• Check references from existing or prior residents or families.
• Contact your local Alzheimer Association chapter for addition information.
The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research. To find out more about Alzheimer’s disease, call the association’s 24-hour hotline at (800) 272-3900, or visit alz.org.
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