How do you interview the management of an Adult Family Home in the Shoreline area?

The good news is, Washington State has a good number of regulations on the books about how an Adult Family Home may be operated. There are laws about medicines, staff qualifications, food, facilities, maximum numbers of residents, and of course safety and security. Perhaps one of the most important rules about Adult Family Homes – at least, in this state – is that no more than six residents may live in any one Adult Family Home household. That maximum relates to the number of residents, and not the staff, part time or otherwise. The reason this is a great rule is, you know your loved one will be one of a very small number of people to be under the care of the staff of caregivers looking after them. That has many advantages, which I will go into in another post, but let’s look at what’s important when you are considering a specific Adult Family Home for your loved one:

Are there registered nurses (RNs) on staff?

A very common career path for retired registered nurses is to continue at least part time in another, less strenuous caregiving capacity. That includes nursing homes, hospices, retirement homes, and Adult Family Homes. Each type of residence has its own unique characteristics, but a retired registered nurse brings unique and special qualifications to the job. If a nurse has worked for thirty years in a hospital, for example, she or he is going to find working in an Adult Family Home to be a piece of cake, perhaps even a bit boring. Over the decades as a nurse in her previous career, imagine how many emergencies she would have dealt with. In some hospitals, it might have been one crisis after another. Now, as part of a team of caregivers, she is looking after a maximum of six residents who, generally speaking, can be expected to be in good health, and not needing the kind of care one would need in a hospital. That experience translates into a significant ability to handle almost any event at an Adult Family Home. Retired registered nurses are your ideal qualification for working at an Adult Family Home, so be sure to ask if this is the level of qualification in at least one of the staff.

How is food bought, stored and prepared?

It’s probably not practicable for the staff at an Adult Family Home to buy 100% organic food, but it’s worth asking if there is at least some of it organically sourced. Tests have shown that organic vegetables, for example, offer a more complete and healthy array of nutrition than their equivalent, mass production frame-grown variety. With some vegetables, it is obvious. You bite into an organic tomato, and you can taste it. Compare that to many of the tasteless tomatoes, strawberries and other vegetables that are mass produced. It is said that the ingredients labels on such things as broccoli now are so far outdated, they do not accurately reflect how much of each ingredient truly is contained with an ounce (or pound) of broccoli. Certainly, I have come to reacquaint myself again with the familiar tastes of vegetables, bringing me back to my childhood memories of eating only organic food three times a day. Food is a big part of a typical resident’s life at an Adult Family Home. With failing eyesight, mobility, memory and other faculties, food is one of the remaining wonderful experiences left. That’s why food quality is another of the variables at an Adult Family Home that must absolutely be looked into.

Is there diet flexibility at the Adult Family Home?

I don’t know if I’ll ever live in a ‘community’ later in life, but even in my now middle years, I’ve gotten a lot fussier about what I will eat. I don’t consume the same number of calories I used to consume, but my body is definitely more sensitive to what I eat than it ever was. For instance, I have eliminated virtually all cooking oils (canola, vegetable, even olive oil) for coconut oil and occasionally avocado oil. I find it agrees far better with my aging digestive system, and has a lot of other health benefits as well.

Strictly speaking, an Adult Family Home is allowed to server the same food at the same times of the day to each and all of its residents, but a good Adult Family Home will be able to tailor the food preparation to a particular individual to an almost à la carte level.

Most seniors are going to need to match their food intake with what they have learned their body needs. Few elderly – let’s count people over seventy – can just eat “whatever they feel like eating” and must narrow their food choices considerably. It might mean managing type 2 diabetes, or a cholesterol challenge, or simply eating food that is easier to digest and doesn’t present other challenges. Eating the right food every day keeps an elderly person healthy, and makes their life a lot better too. That’s why living in an Adult Family Home that offers a lot of food flexibility will be a big advantage. Ask about how far they will go to give the exact food your loved one is going to need and be happy with.

How quiet is the residence?

This is a question that is often forgotten, and it’s important because hearing loss is not simply a loss of volume, as I used to believe it was. It’s a loss of certain frequencies, and not others (at least, not to the same degree). Hearing loss means, therefore, that some frequencies might actually seem louder than they were before a person’s hearing loss progressed to where it is now. For instance, perhaps most people lose their ability to hear higher frequencies first. That being the case, deeper, rumbling noises might be more bothersome – and more obvious to them – than higher pitched sounds. So, the deep rumbling of the train that shunts past at two AM in the morning might wake them up but the relatively high-pitched sound of children playing at the school behind the Adult Family Home in the morning might be all but inaudible.

Be sure to determine the activities going on adjacent to the home, both day and night. In addition, taking note of the ambient noise levels in the home itself are also important. Do the fixtures and fittings help the the dampening of noise levels, or are there lots of bare wooden floors and walls that amplify every step and movement?

Noise levels, to most seniors, are important, especially at night. Try to get a good feel for night time noise levels by looking at what’s in the immediate neighborhood.

Check back next week for more!