How is a retirement community different from an Adult Family Home, in the Shoreline area?

A “retirement home” can be just about anything. You can outfit your back yard shed with a few fixtures and proclaim it to be a place for people to retire. And you may well retire there after a hard day’s work, but it’s a far cry from a retirement home. And it doesn’t fit the criteria for an Adult Family Home, simply because the state of Washington mandates a number of specific characteristics an Adult Family Home must meet to operate withing the law.

An Adult Family Home must meet specific characteristics to operate legally

In the state of Washington, if you want to advertise your offering as an Adult Family Home, you immediately come under the microscope – and so you should – because would-be residents of your Adult Family Home need to be protected. That’s what government is for, and the laws apply to all Adult Family Homes, not just yours. Senior citizens might, in many cases, not be able to look after their own interests in the way, for example, a hotel resident could. Many seniors opt for an Adult Family Home because that’s where they feel safe and relatively secure. They need to know that the care takers will look after them at a level far above what would be expected in almost any other situation other than living with their own family. The laws of Washington work well to keep that implied promise, and it’s why the business thrives in this state.

The state of Washington also likes to run inspections randomly for any such business. Everything from cleanliness to food preparation to noise levels are all taken into consideration when a state employee – a qualified inspector – is looking over the innards of an Adult Family Home. Is the bathing area safe? Are beds safe? How is garbage from the kitchen disposed of? How long does food remain in the fridge, and what about expiration dates? Then there’s the question of medication administration. Is the staff qualified to manage all of that, and what happens in an emergency? In addition, because criminals might rightly guess that where there are elderly people living, there are likely drugs. And for that reason, security is also an issue. Everyone residing or working person in an Adult Family Home has to have a background check. For instance, if the upstairs is occupied by a couple – but not members of the Adult Family Home itself – they must pass a police background check for them to live there. That applies only if they share an entry to the Adult Family Home. In other words, if they have free access to where the senior residents of the home live every day. That rule makes an Adult Family Home safer, and it’s on the list of things the state government pays close attention to.

An Adult Family Home is smaller than a retirement home

Retirement homes are, in some ways, more like an extended stay hotel than a home. In many cases, they will look like a hotel, too, with multiple stories, a reception, check-in, and even restaurants and facilities similar to a hotel.

The typical retirement home has hardly any more security than a hotel. Events are often held in their conference rooms, and groups of people might come and go at all times of the day, regardless of what’s going on with the actual residents. In fact, several months ago I went to a networking event in a retirement home. The invitation had a room number and a floor on it. I walked straight in the front door, I walked right past reception, and took the elevator to the eleventh floor where the meeting was was taking place. No one asked me to so much as check in. Perhaps I looked harmless or professional, but if I wanted to snoop around the home, perhaps I would dress up and make myself look exactly like that.

In an Adult Family Home, there is no reception. It truly is like a home. You can walk up to the front door and ring the doorbell, but you won’t be allowed to simply walk in, any more than you could simply walk into anyone’s home.

Adult Family Homes are more secure than retirement homes.

An Adult Family Home only allows six residents in the state of Washington

Top of my list of what I consider the best features of an Adult Family Home is the fact that a maximum of six residents are allowed to live permanently in any one residence. Even if a couple shares a single room, that still counts as two residents, as you might expect. It means that the care giver staff can get to know the residents very quickly, and vice versa. When you are a senior resident of an Adult Family Home, it behooves you to understand your care givers.

When the staff knows the residents very well – something that’s only possible really in an Adult Family Home, and not so much in a retirement home – when an emergency arises in the middle of the night, care givers who know their residents can act quickly and effectively. In some cases, that can mean a life saving opportunity for the resident.

With only six residents, food preparation is far more likely to be able to serve the individual or even picky tastes of each individual resident. That’s why it’s called a family home, and not an Adult Residence or such term.

With only six residents, another great advantage emerges: some residents suffer from a degree of dementia or memory loss. What a great thing it is for the care givers of the Adult Family Home to be able to help those in their care with who’s who in the set of grandchildren photos.

Living in an Adult Family Home truly is the next best thing – and in some cases, better – than living at home with one’s adult children. It’s not for everybody, though, but in many ways, it could be described as the best of both worlds.

See you next week!