There's never a good time to discuss choosing where aging family members will live when it's time to move from their current home.   But family gatherings over the holidays may give you and your family the chance to sit down and start that discussion.   This week on "Miles for Memories", I filled in for Richard Piet and sat down with Karin Gallagher of Maplewood of Marshall and Diana Mohr of The Oaks at NorthPointe, two local facilities that offer a variety of services.   They talked about some possible first steps, and things to look for when you're ready.  And we all agreed, its a lot harder when you're forced to make a quick decision than it is when you start early.

Click here to see the interview.

First steps:

  • Plan on visiting several care facilities. Take a look around and talk with the staff, as well as residents and families.
  • Ask about special activities that are planned at the facility and field trips.
  • When you visit a care facility, ask to see the latest survey/inspection report. Facilities are required to provide these. The report and the disclosure form can give you a picture of the facility's services.
  • Visit the facilities at different times of the day, including meal times.
  • Ask the care facility about room availability, cost and participation in Medicare or Medicaid. Consider placing your name on a waiting list even if you are not ready to make a decision about a move.
  • If you will be paying for the facility out of pocket, ask what happens if the person with dementia runs out of money. Some facilities will accept Medicaid; others may not.

Care facility checklist

When choosing a care facility, there are a number of factors to consider, including the staff, the facility, the programs and the type of treatment residents receive. Use this checklist when considering a facility:

Family Involvement

  • Families are encouraged to participate in care planning
  • Families are informed of changes in resident's condition and care needs
  • Families are encouraged to communicate with staff


  • Medical care is provided
  • Personal care and assistance is provided
  • Staff recognize persons with dementia as unique individuals, and care is personalized to meet specific needs, abilities and interests
  • Staff is trained in dementia care


Programs and Services

  • Appropriate services and programming based on specific health and behavioral care needs are available
  • Planned activities take place (ask to see activity schedule; note if the activity listed at the time of your visit is occurring)
  • Activities are available on the weekends or during evenings
  • Activities are designed to meet specific needs, interests and abilities
  • Transportation is available for medical appointments and shopping for personal items


  • Personal care is done with respect and dignity
  • Residents are comfortable, relaxed and involved in activities
  • Residents are well-groomed, clean and dressed appropriately


  • Indoor space allows for freedom of movement and promotes independence
  • Indoor and outdoor areas are safe and secure
  • The facility is easy to navigate
  • There is a designated family visiting area
  • Resident rooms are clean and spacious
  • Residents are allowed to bring familiar items with them, such as photos, bedding a chair