How is memory care given in a home designed for senior living? (I live in Seattle)

Every patient under memory care is unique, and for just that reason, a personal and intimate knowledge of each individual under care is essential. This is what makes a residence that supports memory care patients more effective when they have a high care-giver-to-resident ratio. In an Adult Family Home in the state of Washington, the maximum number of residents allowed in a business that operates as an Adult Family Home can only have a maximum of six individual residents. Even if a couple is occupying the same room, they are counted as two individual residents.

Medications management for residents

Many staff working at an Adult Family Home are retired registered nurses. Can you imagine how easy it would be to come from decades of looking after hospital patients – who are let’s face it there because they are ill – to caring for a handful of residents who can be expected to be to be largely healthy! The quietest night on the hospital ward would not be as quiet as the most strenuous night at an Adult Family Home. One of the great benefits, therefore, of your loved one living at an Adult Family Home is they are very well cared for. Medication management, in particular, is something that has be be done right. Every day. Research has shown that medications administered and managed at home – even my careful and loving adult children of seniors, can often get a bit out of hand. All it takes is a simple mistake in organizing medications for a given week, and suddenly, a senior is getting double one medication, and none of the other. It can be a mistake that is hard to spot, and can be of enormous consequences. Managing medications professionally by a retired nurse working in an Adult Family Home is probably the best safeguard against a problem.

Getting to know each senior personally

There’s a very good reason the state of Washington mandates the the maximum of six residents per Adult Family Home residence. With just six people to look after, it doesn’t take long to get to know each personally, what their medical needs are, and even how to communicate with each in their own way. Now, imagine someone suffering from memory loss having to reacquaint with potentially dozens of different staff in a Nursing Home. It would be a real chore, and a potential source of great unhappiness on behalf of the resident themselves. Now, the issue plays both ways. Someone with memory loss may not be in a position to explain, for example, what medications they need at 3am in the morning. They may simply have no idea what is going on, or who the people around them are. This is where a care giver who knows them intimately is very valuable indeed. At 2am or 3am, knowing the medical history of a resident can help in the outcome of a life or death decision. So, instead of rushing to a filing cabinet for a file that explains a resident’s history, a well-informed care giver can make judgment calls without delay. She knows the resident well, and doesn’t need to even ask a question in order to make a good, timely decision, thus preventing an incident from becoming a real emergency.

Control over stimulation in an Adult Family Home

As I get older, I value quiet time more and more with each passing year. When I drive somewhere, I find myself driving without the radio playing and without and form of entertainment, even at low volumes.

Many people who enter an Adult Family Home to live there for the first time find it to be be rather quiet at night – far quieter than they expected. This is because they often come from living for years in the home of their adult children. What’s more, there are often grandchildren there – which can be wonderful for the seniors – so the noise levels can be high indeed. And there’s no real way to avoid it. Unless your adult children have a home with an M-I-L flat, as they call them, (Mother-in-Law flat), the chances are, you’ll be in the midst of all the noise and hubbub of child-rearing. That can mean anything from mumbling teenagers to someone practicing the drums of violin everyday. Take your pick, but I for one am happy to leave all that behind.

In an Adult Family Home, everyone appreciates the quiet, and unless there’s an actual emergency, the whole night passes without a whisper, usually. So, instead of listening to your grandson and his friends playing on their Xbox until 4am every night, or your own son watching his favorite Aliens movie at full volume, you’ll enjoy the utter quiet of six senior residents sleeping the whole night through. A good night’s sleep is possibly the very best thing someone under memory care can experience. For someone who is in need of memory care, therefore, an Adult Family Home will be superior to a Nursing Home, and in many cases, also better than living at home with one’s adult children.

Check back next week!