There will come a time when a person with Alzheimer's disease will need more care than can be provided at home. The individual may need to move into residential care, such as assisted living or a nursing home.
Planning for a move into a care facility should begin well before admission is needed. This advanced planning allows families to:
learn about what care options are available
determine which will best be able to meet the needs of an individual with dementia
anticipate the costs of care and find resources to help pay for them
FREE: CareFinder Guide
This booklet will help you in making the right care decisions based on your needs.
People with dementia live in different types of care facilities, depending on the level of care they need.
Assisted living (also called board and care, adult living, supported care) bridge the gap between living independently and living in a nursing home. Assisted living typically offers a combination of housing and meals, and supportive and health care services. The federal government does not regulate assisted living, and definitions of assisted living vary from state to state.
Nursing homes (also called skilled nursing facility, long-term care facility, custodial care) provide long-term care to individuals who require ongoing nursing care and supervision. Most nursing homes have services and staff to address issues such as nutrition, care planning, recreation, spirituality and medical care. Nursing homes are usually licensed by the state and regulated by the federal government.
Alzheimer special care units (SCUs) are designed to meet the specific needs of individuals with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. SCUs can take many forms and exist within various types of residential care. Such units most often are cluster settings in which persons with dementia are grouped together on a floor or a unit within a larger residential care facility.
Selecting the right care can be difficult. CareFinder, an online guide from the Alzheimer's Association, will make it a bit easier.
CareFinder can help individuals with Alzheimer’s and their families identify the right care options. Simply enter information about a person’s needs, abilities and preferences, and the guide generates a private, customized printout with recommendations and questions to ask when screening a caregiver or a residential care facility.
The guide will also help families learn how to recognize good care, plan and pay for care, and find local support.
After you have a better sense of the type of care setting an individual needs, you can search and find housing options in your area through Senior Housing Finder, powered by SNAPforSeniors®. Senior Housing Finder is a dementia-specific senior housing database that provides detailed listings of licensed residences throughout the United States that offer services especially for residents with dementia. It's free and easy to use.
If you are looking for information about adult day care, please see our Respite Care page.
American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging
This site includes nursing homes, continuing care retirement communities, senior housing facilities and community service organizations. The section for consumers and family caregivers provides background information on all types of facilities and a listing of places accredited by the Continuing Care Accreditation Commission.
Assisted Living Federation of America
This site offers fact sheets on assisted living, a checklist of questions to ask when considering a facility, and a provider directory to identify facilities in a particular area.
Long-Term Care Ombudsman
This site provides information about federal ombudsman or advocates for residents of nursing homes, board and care homes and assisted living facilities. Ombudsmen provide information about how to find a facility and what to do to get quality care.
Medicare's Nursing Home Compare
This site provide detailed information about the past performance of every Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing home in the country. Search nursing homes by city, state, zip code or name.
Resident's Rights in a Nursing Home
If you are a resident or have a loved one in a nursing home, this information sheet highlights your rights. Residents' rights were part of the Nursing Home Reform Law enacted in 1987 by the U.S. Congress.