You should start looking as soon as you are comfortable — realizing that it will almost always be difficult. Proper advance planning will help prevent or lessen a crisis situation later. Maybe you’ll never need the services of a nursing home, but it pays to be proactive and check them out anyway. Making decisions in crisis mode is much different than being able to plan ahead more calmly and thoughtfully.
Local elder law firms, the Alzheimer’s Association, hospitals and other healthcare providers, the Area Agency on Aging and stage regulatory departments can be good sources for lists of facilities. When you visit a facility, take someone with you so you get more than one perspective. It also helps to have someone removed from the situation who can be more objective and might notice things that you don’t.
Ask facility operators if they offer short-term respite care. That might be what you need to start with — or it might be the only thing you ever need. This can allow you a break if you get sick or need to go out of town, for example. If you have an unexpected situation that takes you out of the picture, you will have plans, and lowered the stress levels for you and everyone around you.
Dealing with a loved one with Alzheimer’s is a daunting task. There’s no need to tackle it alone, however. An excellent resource is “The Indispensable Alzheimer’s Resource Kit.” It can be downloaded at no cost by clicking here.