How does a nursing home compare with a typical Adult Family Home in the Shoreline area?

The single most important aspect of an Adult Family Home in the state of Washington is the state mandated maximum number of residents. That number is six, and it means no single Adult Family Home residence may go over that number. It does make complete sense, however, because to be a home, you can’t have two hundred residents milling about.

A nursing home can have orders of magnitude more people living in it, and to give care to all of those residents requires a much greater number of staff than is required in a six-resident Adult Family Home. So, how does that all affect what happens every day – and every night – in an Adult Family Home versus a nursing home?

Everyone knows everyone in an Adult Family Home

Just like in your own family home, or family of origin home, where you obviously know pretty much everything that’s going on, an Adult Family Home because of its resident count limitation means all of the staff quickly get to know all of the residents very well. That’s a big deal when there’s a 3am emergency, because a staff member doesn’t have to look up, for example, what medication a given resident is on. For example, if you know a patient has Type 1 Diabetes, a simple sweet might be the solution to a fainting or lightheadedness spell. The precious moments it takes to look up a person’s medical history can make all the difference in responding to that emergency in a timely and effective fashion.

In addition to the staff knowing the residents, the residents also know the staff. It only takes days – or perhaps weeks – to know which staff know what. As we get to know a person – anyone one of us I am talking about now – we learn how to ask for what we need from them. This growing relationship with one’s care givers produces better results in any emergency, of course, but on a day-to-day basis, this creates a real and perceived security for each of the residents.

Each resident can have their food needs tailored to them

When you have dozens if not hundreds of residents, it’s hard to give everyone exactly what they want to eat. But in an Adult Family Home, you can tailor almost every meal to every resident. With only six residents, it’s relatively easy to cook a unique meal, even three times a day, for each individual. Any professional cook will tell you just how many different meals he or she can produce in a given day. That’s how the typical restaurant runs. That’s not normally required, however, in an Adult Family Home, because most seniors will be thoroughly satisfied with the senior-dedicated menu.

When you’re twenty years old, if you remember, you can eat almost anything. For years I personally survived on what seemed to be Ramen noodles three times a day. But when you are in your golden years, nutritious food is everything. Fortunately for most of us, we learn over the years what food keeps us healthy and which do not. Having eaten every possible kind of food, I already know what I like and what works for my body. Most seniors are the same, and it behooves every Adult Family Home resident to make it know exactly what they like to eat, and what food should never reach their plate. That’s a pretty standard service offered by a quality Adult Family Home, and it’s worth making a point of it before you sign up for that Adult Family Home of your choice.

Staff at Adult Family Homes tend to be retired registered nurses

Imagine you had three or four decades of working as a nurse in a hospital. We all know that hospitals like to push patients out the door the moment they seem well enough to stand – a result of the insurance companies’ unwillingness to pay a dime more than they have to – so a nurse can be satisfied she or he will spend their working life with ill people, and in an almost constant environment of emergency and remedial action. Compare that now to life at work in an Adult Family Home where emergencies are rare. Usually, residents in an Adult Family Home are not ‘ill’. They might have health challenges, but they didn’t show up because they just survived a serious car accident or got struck down by a sudden illness. In an Adult Family Home, most people are pretty able-bodied, and when an emergency does occur, a retired registered nurse is exactly what you want at hand. This makes an Adult Family Home the perfect place for a senior.

“Family Home” is part of the name for a reason

Adult Family Homes try to create a family-like environment. The older I get, the more traumatic every move is. When I was in my twenties, ever moving from one country to another was not that traumatic. But now, even moving from one apartment to another is a big effort. I can only imagine what it’s like to move into an Adult Family Home. For one, many people perceive it as the ‘last move they’ll make’, so it’s important it is a smooth one. As we age, in addition, we tend to be more prone to depression, and where we live can have a huge impact on that, too.

Moving into an Adult Family Home is a completely different experience to that of moving into a nursing home. In the latter, it’s like moving into a 500-room hotel. You’ve got a number, a key, and it’s usually impersonal and an experience of isolation and anonymity.

Moving into an Adult Family Home, on the other hand, is like moving in with your college mates. Or at least, it can be. Because of the small numbers of residents, move-ins and move-outs are relatively less frequent in an Adult Family Home.

A nursing home’s doors, if the nursing home is big enough, can be a constant arrival of new residents and departing of others, presenting the opportunity for a feeling of isolation that can make life that more challenging than that of an Adult Family Home.