Senior Living Options

When to consider care outside the home

One of the most difficult experiences for family caregivers of a person with Alzheimer’s disease or a related disorder is deciding when to consider placement outside the home.

Caregivers should ask themselves the following questions to evaluate their situation:

  1. Is constant care required beyond my physical capability? 
  2. Is the person with memory loss becoming unsafe in their home
  3. Am I becoming impatient or irritable toward the person for whom I am caring?
  4. Am I becoming impatient or irritable toward the person for whom I am caring?
  5. Would structured activities and increased social interaction benefit the person I care for?
  6. Am I neglecting my family, my job or myself in order to provide care?
  7. Would placement outside the home result in more enjoyable visits and outings with the person I care for?
    1. Your answers to those questions can help you determine if placement outside the home is the best decision.
  1. What to look for when visiting care facilities:
  3. Environment

License:  Ask to see the facility’s valid California State License, issued by the State of California, Dept. of Social Services Community Care Licensing Division.

Atmosphere: When you walk in do you “feel” the nurturing, loving, and supportive environment your loved one needs and deserves?

Living space: Is there indoor and outdoor space? Are their safe walking paths or secured access to fresh air and outdoor activities?

  1. Visiting hours: Does the visitation policy meet your needs? Visit unannounced at different times to see the staff interact with residents.

  2. Structure:Is the facility designed and constructed with the abilities, comfort, and freedom of the resident in mind?


Staff:  Has the staff been screened and properly trained? Residents with memory loss present unique challenges to staff, requiring ongoing training.

Administrator:  Does the Administrator seem knowledgeable about dementia and the special care required?

Physical contact:  Is there positive physical contact between staff and residents – a warm touch, an arm around the shoulders?

HumorDo staff and residents interact joyfully and set a tone of lightheartedness? Verbal cues: How do staff redirect a resident? Do they command or encourage?


Personal care:  Is care (bathing, toileting, etc.) done with respect and dignity for the resident?

Resident behavior: Are some residents sitting quietly or sleeping? Are some residents moving around freely? These are normal behaviors and should be allowed in a safe environment.

Personal belongings:  Are residents allowed to bring in furniture, bedding, and photos that are familiar to them? This helps them to feel “at home” and gives them a sense of belonging and not being lost.

Level of function:  Ask what happens when the person needs a higher level of care. Can the facility accommodate residents with a wide range of abilities?


Home life: Can the residents participate in meaningful activities such as setting the table, washing dishes, folding the laundry, etc.?

Programming:  What does the structured activity program look like? Are projects interesting and success-oriented? Are activities planned with the dementia resident in mind?

 * provided by the Alzheimer’s Association.  www.alzheimersla.or

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