The term “specialized Alzheimer’s care” is used frequently, but it can mean many different things (and do we really know what it means?). Part of the variation has to do with the fact that assisted living communities, the setting in which most Alzheimer’s care units can be found, are regulated in 50 unique ways. Each state has its own licensing procedures and regulations, a portion of which apply to what type of Alzheimer’s care and services are provided within its walls.
What probably comes to mind when most hear “Alzheimer’s care” is a locked, or secured, unit. Safety and elopement prevention is definitely an important element of Alzheimer’s care (as many with dementia will wander at some point in the disease process), but there are ways to create a secure environment without requiring locked doors and alarm systems.
Specialized Alzheimer’s care encompasses other things: advanced training requirements for staff, higher staff to resident ratios, activities tailored to those with memory loss, and dementia-friendly design (on a programming and aesthetics level), to name a few.
If you are considering specialized Alzheimer’s care in assisted living, ask the provider what it means. What makes the specialized care special? If it’s just a locked door and alarm system, you may want to consider other locations.