How does an adult family home compare to hiring at-home caregivers in the Bothell area?

At-home caregiving, although it can be for a long time the best way to look after your loved one, eventually may become too much work for the adult children of a senior. Of course, we all want to keep our loved ones close, and for most of us, that means keeping them under our own roof, where we can see to their needs on a daily basis. After all, there’s no love like the love of family, and you’d be forgiven for believing that this the best way to go. In addition, having a professional caregiver spend a great part of the day looking after that senior – all the while in the safety of your own home – seems like a ‘having your cake and eating it’ type of situation. The problem is several-fold.

At-home caregivers can’t give the variety of interaction that each of us needs

One of the advantage of life in an Adult Family Home is having other people around you. As a resident, you may have up to five other full tile residents, all about your age, around you seven days a week. You may not break out in sparkling conversation with each one of them each and every day, but research has shown clearly that the elderly fare far better when they are in the company of others, and there is also the question of having several caregivers looking after them. All told, any one resident will have the company of perhaps ten other people. That ‘company’ has been shown to significantly reduce the levels of depression, anxiety, fear and other negative emotional states. So, simply for the personal interaction benefits, being in the company of a dozen other people has huge benefits. Lastly, the elderly do tend to suffer more from the effects of isolation, so it’s doubly important that they have regular company. They will live happier, healthier and longer lives if they do.

At-home caregiving can be significantly more expensive than an Adult Family Home

An Adult Family Home is designed to spread the cost of care over a number of residents. If a doctor visit is scheduled, he or she can visit all six residents at the same time, making the cost per ‘patient’ a lot less than if there were just one person in the house to visit. In fact, it’s often the case that there is a medically trained staff member available a lot of the time. The cost of that, too, can be spread across the full residence.

When you have a single caregiver looking after your loved one in your own home, you have two choices. You can have them be there five days a week in the capacity of a full-time employer, in which case they will have a lot of ‘down time’. They probably won’t be at the side of your loved one all day every day, but rather, they will spend a lot of their time otherwise occupied in your home, presumably engaged in activities not directly related to the person they are taking care of. Or, they may be there part time. Perhaps they simply visit for an hour or two every day, checking all health issues, preparing one or two meals, then taking off to their next port of call, as it were. In the first instance, their effective cost per hour may be several times their posted cost per hour, because they are not care-taking the whole time, and in the second instance, your loved one may be left alone for large parts of the day. This has an inherent risk to it as, if there is a health issue in the middle of the afternoon, they may not be able to receive help until someone arrives home later that day, assuming they are not in a position to call for help.

An Adult Family Home is specifically equipped for the elderly

Washington State law stipulates a number of characteristics of an Adult Family Home. They look for good lighting, ambulation support (rails, non-skid mats, support bars around showers, etc.) and a host of other features. All of these are of great help to an elderly resident who needs to be kept safe. A simple, three AM visit to the bathroom can turn into a medical emergency if, for example, there were no anti-slip pad around the bathroom.

Pressure pads to alert staff than a resident has gotten out of bed means they can be assisted in their visit to the bathroom. There are a thousand ways a home can be tailor-modified to suit the elderly.

In your own home, however, you would spend a lot of money, potentially, making your home ‘elderly-enabled’. For those of you who have experienced the challenge of making your home safe for toddlers, consider the cost of that and multiply it by an order of magnitude. Again, a fully-adjusted home for the elderly can be done simply once, and the benefit can be shared across many individuals over decades, as well as the cost.

And Adult Family Home will usually have ‘wake staff’

Most of us do not have medical training or experience. I co-parented for three kids, and I did pick up a few first-aid tips, but I would struggle now even to give someone CPR. I got that training as a swimming athlete many decades ago, but it would be difficult for me to recall the exact steps now. Neither do I have a clue how to use a defibrillator. All I know about that is what I picked up from watching Netflix episodes of Doctor House. Most of us would struggle in the middle of the night if our aging loved one had a medical emergency.

In an Adult Family Home with ‘wake staff’, a small medical emergency can remain just that: small. Many Adult Family Home employees are, in fact, retired registered nurses, making them the absolutely perfect person to take the position of that wake staff. Imagine how the decades of moment-by-moment medical crises a registered nurse would bring to the job! She (or he) would know how to remedy almost all situations, but would also know when to call in additional services where required.

It’s no surprise, then, that the number of Adult Family Homes in the Puget Sound area is growing exponentially. It’s often the perfect place to host your aging loved one.

See you next week, I hope.