How Beneficial is a Dementia Care Unit for Someone with Alzheimer's?
As an Elder Law attorney, I get asked this question a lot. And I tell my clients that it can be very beneficial...if the unit is designed and staffed appropriately.
The goal of such a unit, of course, is to provide specialized care. Personnel should have specialized training for dementia. The unit itself should have smaller spaces, so patients don't feel overwhelmed. It should be a quieter environment, to prevent over-stimulation. It should be locked securely, as many Alzheimer's patients move around or pace.
I tell my clients to pay attention to the design of the unit at which they're looking. Good dementia units are designed to provide more specialized care and less stimulation. In fact, many no longer have intercoms or p.a. systems.
A dementia unit should also have its own Activities Director, who designs specialized programs. Staff are often trained in how to help the seniors participate and enjoy themselves more.
Your state's Department on Aging might provide you with a list of facilities in your area, or else point you toward the proper agency.
Another thing I tell my clients: Visit at least three facilities! Take a friend who can be objective. Then...
- Meet the staff - and observe their interaction with the patients.
- Is the facility clean? Are the grounds well-tended? (And secure??)
- Ask to see their most recent state survey.
- If the survey indicates deficiencies., what were they?
- Were they addressed? How?
After speaking with the friend who accompanied you, make a list of pros and cons. AND LISTEN TO YOUR GUT!!
If you have a loved one with dementia, you'll be asking yourself new questions every day.
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We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.