How does an adult family home compare with hiring at-home caregivers in the Kirkland area?

If you’ve had to hire any type of employee lately, you’ll understand why small businesses wait so long before they take the plunge and hire their very first employee. It’s a huge burden. Once you hire a real human being to work for you, you take on an enormous responsibility. And that’s not just in terms of what they cost in money every month – they may be well worth it – but there is liability down the road, if not immediately. And then there’s the whole risk around what if they don’t work out and you have to let them go. OK, so you know that hiring someone full time to look after your loved one in your house or your loved one’s own house is a big deal. The alternatives are pretty attractive, so I’ve listed what the upside is for opting instead for an Adult Family Home.

“Best of both worlds”

Firstly, an Adult Family Home, if you don’t already know, in Washington State at least, is limited to just six residents per household. This is to keep it as family-like as possible, where the staff can really get to know and understand the needs of each individual. This means you have a lot of the comfortable aspects of living at home, but with the very real advantage of having access to full time elderly care staff, usually round the clock.

The law really does protect residents of Adult Family Homes

In the State of Washington, there are strict rules about how an Adult Family Home can be run before it gets the legal status of being just that, an Adult Family Home. You can’t for example share a building entrance with folks upstairs who happen to be renting from the owner. Everyone – other than the senior residents themselves – must have had their background checked and cleared beforehand. This makes it safer when it comes to knowing who is in the building.

24x7 security

You probably know that senior residents are often targeted for prescription drug theft. At an Adult Family Home, professionally trained staff is usually enough of a deterrent to any would-be drug thief who might have otherwise hoodwinked your loved one at home, while pilfering the medicine cabinet. Which reminds me, always ask about ‘wake staff’ when you are considering any particular Adult Family Home. Not all of them have staff stay overnight, a very important security factor in my view.

Specialized staff

If you hire full time staff to look after your loved one, let’s say during office hours, they may still not be good enough at each task to meet all the requirements. For example, they might be a fully qualified nurse practitioner, but can they prepare healthy and interesting food for your loved one? At an Adult Family Home, you will often find at least one of the staff has good food preparation skills, and another has the necessary medical skills. Be sure to ask about the skills of individuals who work at each AFH you are considering, and ask also about what the home looks for in their staff profile when they sare hiring. Remember, staff moves, so you need to know how the ADH looks for new employees when that happens.

Your loved one is never alone

Imagine you are, let’s say, 80 years of age. Your adult, working age children might be looking after you after they come home from work, and on the weekends, but what is your day like when the full-time caregiver is in the house with you all day? Personally, that’s a lot of one-on-one time with a person who is essentially an employee. I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the more picky I am about who I want to be with. I’d much prefer the varied company of several caregivers and five other residents in an Adult Family Home than to be at home all day with one caregiver. I think I might get rather claustrophobic. It’s always safer in numbers, too.

An AFH is likely to cost a lot less than a full-time caregiver

By spreading the costs of residence in an AFH over six people, there’s clearly savings to be made. Food is more economical when it’s prepared for a half dozen people than it is for one. Not every senior person needs to be looked after every minute of the day, so a caregiver’s time shared among a half dozen residents is a great economy indeed, yet still offers full-time attention.

Managing a single, full-time caregiver can be a lot of work

Employees need vacations. They get sick. They arrive late, or have to depart early. And when they go get another job, you have to find their replacement. It’s a lot of work. With an Adult Family Home, all that is taken care of, making it one of the most predictable costs in your budget and in the amount of time you will spend on it.

A single hired caregiver won’t be available 24x7

You might hire someone to look after your dear mother, but there are 168 hours in the week, not just 40. A good Adult Family Home will have staff night and day.

With the right group of fellow residents, an AFH can be  a fun place to live

Even though I live alone at the moment, I can’t live without considerable interpersonal company every day. I need to meet other people, and befriend new ones often. An AFH offers that variety of interaction with people which, by the way, reduces the incidence of stress, anxiety and depression not just among the elderly, but among all ages. We humans have evolved to be in groups. It’s good for us.

Your loved one will appreciate the independence

A lot of elderly people feel guilty about the burden they are placing on your family if they are living with you. Just imagine a vulnerable elderly lady living in the house with her daughter-in-law. It’s great when relationships are rock solid, but a working mother, for example, is going to have a lot of stress in her life already, before any other issues arise relating to looking after their mother-in-law every evening.
Living in an Adult Family Home offers independence. You have your own room, and often your own private bathroom, so even with all the great company, you can still go and take your privacy when you need it. I know that’s what I’d want. And still, you can have as much independence as you need.

A household made specifically for seniors

As we age, we need different things. A shower or bath unit can, for some, be a treacherous place. It’s because that’s where there can be slippery surfaces and hard edges. It’s where many elderly fall and hurt themselves. In an Adult Family Home, however, bathrooms in particular – and the very house itself – are custom designed to meet the needs of seniors who require, for example, bath rails, emergency call switches, non-slip surfaces, and other features. Adding all those safety devices to your home can be expensive, even if you know exactly what is needed.

An Adult Family Home is usually a far superior alternative to full-time hired care at home.

See you next week!