Q: My siblings and I are facing a decision about when to place our dad, who has Alzheimer's disease, in an adult care facility. We're worried that we won't know when the time has come and might not make the best decision about where to place him. Where can we turn?
A: Family members are faced with many challenging decisions when considering placing their loved one with special needs in an adult care facility. There is no perfectly "right" time for placing the person with Alzheimer's disease in a facility. The timing depends on the needs of the individual and the ability of the caregiver to meet those needs.
The Kansas Department on Aging has a publication titled "How to Select a Special Care Unit: A Consumer's Guide to Special Care Units for Persons with Dementia." That publication is a great place to begin.
The guide assists families in selecting a dementia special care unit within an adult care facility. The information in the guide can be used in discussions with the administrator and staff of a facility about the services and programs offered by their special care unit. Although the focus of the booklet is on special care units within adult care facilities, many of the same guidelines may be used in choosing other adult care settings.
Special care units within nursing facilities are not the only residential care options available for individuals with dementia. There are also alternative settings that focus on smaller, less institutional models of care for those with Alzheimer's disease and similar disorders. Explore all residential care options available in your area. The guide covers:
- Alzheimer's disease and related dementia
- Evaluating special care units
- Management of the special care unit
- The special care unit environment
- Daily resident care
- Therapeutic programming
- Special care unit costs
To obtain the complete 16-page guide and a list of Kansas special care units, contact the Kansas Department on Aging, 503 S. Kansas Ave., Topeka, KS 66603; phone 785-296-4986 or toll-free (800) 432-3535; www.agingkansas.org.