Those we love never go away. They walk beside us every day… unseen, unheard, still near, still loved, still missed and still very dear. – Will Durant

One of the most difficult decisions for caregivers is when, or if, to move their loved ones into a memory care facility. This is not the wish of most caregivers.

The thought of someone else caring for your spouse, mother, sister, brother or anyone that you love is very sad. Unfortunately there might come a time to make this heart-wrenching decision. Fortunately our community offers many options.

So when might you consider placement? You need to ask yourself some of these questions:

  • Is the home environment safe?
  • Are the person’s care needs beyond your physical abilities?
  • Is your health failing?
  • Is your loved one showing aggressive behavior?
  • Is there obsessive wandering?
  • Does your loved one need help eating, and if so, is he or she at risk of choking?

When you decide that a memory care facility is the best option, you need to be prepared. Remember that you are the advocate for your family member, so do your homework. Consider these questions:

  • Does the staff appear to be knowledgeable and caring?
  • What type of training does the staff have and is it ongoing?
  • How many hours of training does the staff receive?
  • What is the staffing ratio during the day? What about at night?
  • Does each resident have an individual care plan?
  • Is there a nurse (RN or LPN) on staff 24/7?
  • Is there a visiting physician?
  • What type of care are they not able to provide? Why would someone be discharged?
  • What is the policy for handling a medical emergency?
  • Do they have a full-time activity director for the memory care unit? What about weekends?
  • How does the fee structure work? (Very important!)
  • Is the unit secured?

It is never too early to start investigating your options. Know what is available in your area and get to know the staff. Many of these facilities offer activities for families to attend to get to know them.

Also, most offer respite care programs. What is this? Your loved one can spend a week or month in a memory care unit.

If you need additional information, or just need to talk about options, please call one of our dementia care specialists at Memory Matters at 843-842-6688 or visit our website at

Speaking of memory, the spring session of Brain Boosters will begin on April 21. This 10-week program is popular so sign up soon.

Karen Doughtie is assistant director of Memory Matters, serving Bluffton and Hilton Head.