How can I adjust to putting my mother into an Adult Family Home or nursing home in Seattle?

Even when you find that perfect Adult Family Home for your beloved parent, there’s is almost always a kind of letting go feeling you will experience on the day of the Big Move. In reality – especially if the Adult Family Home is just down the street – the time you do spend with them might be of a better quality than when they were living in your own home. Why is that, you ask?

Adult Family Homes are tailored to what seniors actually need

Personally, I love hotels. And motels, and every other type of ‘living away’ accommodation. It’s because it’s a change, and a break away from the routines of my home and work life. Often, people think of Adult Family Homes as a type of ‘hotel’, but in reality, they are much nicer because they are specifically designed to make life for seniors safer, easier, more comfortable, and more predictable in every respect.

  1. Safety: Adult Family Homes – in the state of Washington, at least – must have certain safety equipment in support of their intended resident. The specific (and ever-evolving) laws for the state can be seen on the WA government website after a quick Google search, but you can expect to find supporting handrails, pressure mats (in case someone exits a bed at 3am – the wake staff will be aware of it), food preparation routines, and many other features that keep staff physically safer than they might be had they stayed in their adult children’s home.

  2. Medical staff: many Adult Family Homes hire from a base of retired registered nurses. This means that the residents are rarely far from someone who will have no problem with dealing with a medical crisis if and when it occurs. Just imagine. Who would you want nearby if your think you’re having a heart attack? I think I’d like that registered nurse right there for such an event. Coming from the moment by moment crisis situation at work most nurses experience to the only very occasional crisis situation in an Adult Family Home makes a registered nurse the perfect employee. You know your senior parent or parents are in good hands in an Adult Family Home for that simple reason.

  3. Food preparation: With just six mouths to feed, individuals can have some choice. It’s not all meat-and-two-veg at every meal for everyone, but the better Adult Family Homes can offer almost individual meal choices. I know, when I am left to cook my own food, I don’t always choose the healthy options for my own ‘pre-diabetic’ profile, but when someone else is doing the food preparation, I always ask for what’s best for me.
    My brother-in-law has been a professional chef for four decades. He was able to serve up over hundred different meal choices – and in a high class restaurant at that – every shift he worked. I think six people’s individual food requirements must be pretty easy to achieve in a given day for an Adult Family Home. Ask about those choices when you are considering your options. I know, my own father, as his health continued to deteriorate in his later years, still always enjoyed his food. He loved the regularity of it all, and a routine in an Adult Family Home is something you at home – as you look after your beloved parent – may find very hard to achieve. So, consider the wonderful nature of the food choices provided by an Adult Family Home. It’s one of the fewer life pleasures ahead of any of us in our golden years.

  4. Proximity to others: As we age, it is a well documented fact, we are more prone to depression. Some of it is simply biological, some of it is from health issue stress, and some of it is because we are isolated. If you aging parent is living in the MIL (Mother-in-Law) flat at the back of your house, he or she might spend a lot of the day isolated from everyone. Match that with a predisposition to depression, worries about the future, and you have a recipe for disaster. In an Adult Family Home, the only way to be on your own is to deliberately shut yourself away in your room. The rest of the time, there is someone to eat with, chat with, and make friends with. The whole place is geared to being with others and enjoying life in a house that’s built for your every need.

  5. The right size: To my mind, the one state regulation that makes an Adult Family Home most attractive is the fact that you can only have a maximum of six residents in any one home. This means that the staff all get to know each and every resident intimately pretty quickly. When you’re looking after someone for an eight or ten hour shift, you get to know them pretty well. And if there is that emergency at three AM, the intimate knowledge of the individual Adult Family Home resident cannot be matched even by a hospital.

  6. New friends: I grew up in a big family. There were nine of us, including my parents, and the ages were all close together. For many years, we all lived together, and no matter how you felt, there was always someone in the house you could play with or talk to. My mother seemed to be permanently washing clothes in the old manual washing machine she had, washing dishes, cooking food, or washing one of her kids. Still, you could always walk up to her and talk. She was, after all, my mother. So, I was always comfortable with many people around me. I don’t do so well on my own – perhaps I would be different now had I grown up an only child – and I can see a distinct negative change in my mood if I do not hang around with people for a couple days in a row. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to be living in my adult children’s home and feeling stuck there all day, not being able to drive or take care of myself.

  7. Longer life: Speaking personally again here, I find when I am with other people, I tend not to ruminate over my own troubles as much. Engaging even in casual conversation with fellow human beings keeps me away from dwelling on my own silly little problems. Worry equals stress. Stress equals shorter life. Living in an Adult Family Home rather than being isolated in your home – and I accept it is a loving home. There’s no question – will allow your beloved parent to live a longer, more enjoyable life.

  8. 24-7 support: One last thing – when you are interviewing staff at prospective Adult Family Homes, be sure to ask about ‘wake staff’. Wake staff are those caregiver employees who are there to look after the residents at night time. Not all Adult Family Homes have such Wake Staff, but there sure are a wonderful aspect. That’s because nothing good happens between midnight and four AM. I’d always want a registered nurse at my side, though, when something does happen.

See you next week!