My friend Suzanne came to me one day in tears to talk over the situation with her mother. She knew that I had dealt with my own mother’s dementia care and eventual movement to an assisted living dementia care facility. In fact, back then she had been the one to dry my tears, talk me down from my emotional meltdowns and make me a cup of tea (I am English and we believe that a cup of tea is the answer to everything) After lovingly acting as the main caregiver to her mom for many years who was diagnosed with Lewy Bodies dementia, it had come to that difficult place where her mother’s dementia was quickly progressing. It was clear that she could no longer be cared for at home and needed an assisted living memory care facility.

But how can I know what assisted living dementia care home I should trust with her care? They all look good on their websites, they all say the right things but I often hear horror stories. I don’t know where to start she said.

I also have heard of many difficult situations families have faced with their choice of homes, here are just a few…

  • Arriving for an assessment only to have no one expect you.
  • Trying to communicate with a staff that clearly does not want to hear your concerns.
  • Situations where you feel the home is not telling you the whole truth.
  • Having the home commit to something and then not follow through.
  • Caregivers not listening and showing no follow through.
  • No sense of urgency to finding the “Why” of a change of behaviors.

Albert Einstein recognized the importance of trust when he said, “Every kind of peaceful cooperation among men is primarily based on mutual trust.” Yet often these days our trust may be broken, abused, misplaced, or violated.

Trust is intuitive confidence and a sense of comfort that comes from the belief that we can rely on the assisted living memory care home to perform competently, responsibly, and in a manner considerate of our interests. It is dynamic, it is fragile, and it is vulnerable. Yet it is very difficult to define and quantify.

Trust is easier to understand than to measure. Yet, trust is essential when dealing with people with dementia in an assisted living situation. Their families are looking for help at a time that is most vulnerable for themselves and their loved one with Alzheimers Lewy Bodies Parkinsons or Frontotemporal dementia. Lack of trust creates cynicism, doubt, and anxiety

Assisted living Dementia Care Homes need to be able to provide much needed emotional support to families as well as the person with dementia. Families need to know that their loved one’s care is tailored to their individual needs and challenges; they need to know that their thoughts and information will be respected.

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These are points to look out for when choosing an Assisted Living Dementia Care facility

  • Is the staff proactive, do they show they care for you; do they listen to you, the caregiver and probe for unspoken fears and concerns?
  • Do they provide sensible solutions that work?
  • Are they honest and truthful?
  • Do they demonstrate respect –Do they ask you what you consider the best ways of dealing with your loved one?
  • Do they answer your questions with straight talk?
  • Do they clarify expectations?
  • Do they listen first?
  • Do they keep commitments?

There are “best practices” – approaches and techniques that are most likely to get the desired response from the person with dementia. Frequently these best practices maintain a familiar routine and recreate a familiar environment. Many family caregivers have learned a lot about the patient’s disease but their special expertise lies in their long history with their loved one. Many feel that only they understand this person and know how to meet his or her needs. They see themselves as the patient’s advocate and protector, and they may be afraid that the assisted living memory facility won’t be able to provide good care.

So when choosing a home that you want to know you can trust run them first through the ABCD checklist.

abcdA = Able, do they demonstrate competence. Are they qualified and experienced in the dementia and  memory care field

B = Believable, are they acting with integrity, are they honest with their dealings with you?

C = Connected, are they demonstrating care and concern for your loved one and other residents and staff and are they communicating effectively.

D = Dependable, are they reliably following through on what they say they are going to do, this means being accountable for their actions and being organized and predictable.

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In an Assisted Living Dementia Care home trust must be treated as precious, highly valued, and treasured by the home. It must be viewed as if it were an egg that when treated roughly could shatter. Remember actions can speak more loudly than words, don’t be fooled by fancy sales presentations and pretty pictures.

The main question to ask when choosing and Assisted Living Dementia Facility is

“Do you TRUST them?”