ALZHEIMER'S: A CAREGIVER CONVERSATION CHECKLIST
How to have the conversation you've likely been putting off
Even under the most optimal at-home care circumstances, a long-term care facility may be able to offer a more safe and comfortable environment for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Now, the Alzheimer’s Association has created this checklist of talking points and helpful hints to begin a series of relevant conversations with your family, fellow caregivers and the person with Alzheimer’s.
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 more safe and 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 her future, introduce alternate housing options as early as possible, even before necessary. Ask 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 is capable of
taking part in any decision-making.
Consider including an independent third party as a
mediator. This could be a member of the clergy, a member
of the healthcare team, a social worker or a 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 or an extended afternoon visit at a long-term care facility to get a feel for the various available options.
5. Begin researching long-term care options in your area.
Go to the Alzheimer's Association's Senior Housing Finder to access their free, nationwide dementia-specific senior housing database that provides information about what level of dementia care service the facility can support.
Enter your city, state, zip, county or address and begin researching options by category of housing.
View the listing details or contact the facility to ask questions and schedule a site visit.
Check references from existing or prior residents or families.
Contact your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter.
“Optimally, the search for appropriate senior housing should begin early to find the right fit,” says Eve Stern, RN, MS, president of SNAPforSeniors. “Using the Senior Housing Finder, you can search for senior housing communities that fit your initial criteria and subscribe to those you may want to visit or watch for availability. You can also receive alerts and notifications about those facilities. It’s a convenient way to keep track of the housing options that fit your geographic, personal care or financial needs.”