Few things are as painful as watching a loved one descend into the vicious cycles of dementia and Alzheimer's. As caregivers, we are often at a loss when it comes to handling the unpredictable symptoms of a worsening condition, and we are reluctant to make the difficult decision to place our elderly family members who suffer from these conditions into facilities that can care for them on a round-the-clock basis. When it comes to dementia, it's important to remember that your loved one's comfort and safety should be the family's primary concern and, as such, facilities that specialize in the care of dementia patients are equipped to provide those things and more. Alzheimer's and dementia centers are facilities that provide a high level of care for patients suffering from debilitating memory impairment conditions. The centers boast trained staff that specializes in the care of those patients and programs and activities specifically designed to tackle the challenges of memory loss and other symptoms associated with Alzheimer's and dementia. Alzheimer's and Dementia Centers: When is it Time? It is crucial that caregivers and family members alike assess the condition of the person being cared for to determine whether long-term, 24-hour dementia care is necessary. While many caregivers hesitate to make those difficult decisions, the fact is that, as the illness progresses and quality of life diminishes, patients will need the kind of assistance that caregivers are unequipped or unprepared to handle. Qualities of the Right Facility Making a difficult decision like choosing the right dementia center can be easier when you know what to look for. Visit the facility, both announced and unannounced, and carefully study the following traits to determine whether that facility is the right one for you and your loved one. Staff attentiveness. How does the staff interact with residents, visitors and with each other? Staff turnover. Consistency is important for patients of dementia. A place with a high turnover means less consistency in the faces the patients see. Properly maintained facilities. Are the grounds properly cleaned, maintained and secured to prevent spills, falls, etc. Trained personnel. Personnel should specialize in Alzheimer's and dementia, and understand the accompanying symptoms. Appropriate activities. Residents should continuously engage in activities that designed to alleviate symptoms. Crisis prevention. Is there a specialized unit in the facility for patients who have serious episodes? How does the facility handle accidents or crisis? Proper nutrition. Ask about the meals provided and frequency. Are the meals nutritionally balanced? Does the kitchen staff make concessions for special diets and other restrictions? Number of residents with Alzheimer's or dementia. How many residents in the center are Alzheimer's of dementia patients? This will help you determine whether the center is equipped properly prepared to take on the challenges of caring for dementia patients. Alternatives for Seniors: Find the Right Center Find treatment facilities who handle your loved ones with Alzheimer's or dementia at Alternatives for Seniors, an organization that provides a directory (in print and online) that specifically caters to the housing and care concerns of senior citizens and their families. Gain access to information from thousands of nationwide health and care facilities, including independent living, assisted living, nursing care, and more, without ever leaving your computer. Be social, too! Join our Facebook and Twitter community for the latest news and information on housing for the elderly.