In Kenmore, how do Adult Family Homes compare to Retirement Homes (or even Nursing Homes)?

Many people, understandably, go hunting for the best place to place their beloved and aging parent. Depending of resources, there is a huge variety of options. Some very ‘high living’ places can have dedicated staff for every resident while others can have a high resident to care giver ratio. It all depends on a resident’s budget, the neighborhood they are considering, and what they really need and want.

Adult Family Homes, for example, offer the closest thing to a family setting – hence the name – and the transition, therefore, is probably the least troublesome. In some cases, a move to an Adult Family Home a few blocks away is actually easy. Your loved one knows you’re down the street, a mere phone call away, and they are now living in a new home that is custom-designed to suit people of their age. What’s more, there’s a limit of only six residents per home, so even if there were a single care giver, she would only have to look after five others.

Staff selection at an Adult Family Home

One of the more interesting aspects of the typical Adult Family Home is the fact that most care givers working in one are retired registered nurses. More often that not, they have worked for decades in a hospital or such, and therefore the work in an Adult Family Home is … well … easy for them. Going from one emergency to the next in a hospital to looking after just six usually able-bodied seniors must feel like a bit of a vacation, if not boring! Well, it means they have the extra emotional and psychological energy – as well as time – to connect and bond with each of the residents. What’s more, anyone who has worked as a nurse in the average hospital has likely did so because they like caring for others. This all adds up to a good deal for the average resident of an Adult Family Home. They simply get great care.

Food choices in a place with lots of residents, versus with few

The bigger the organization, the more they have to standardize the food. In a place with six hundred residents, either they standardize the food choices, or they offer a ‘restaurant’ model of serving the residents. Some people are not so fussy about food, but many – both of my parents included – got very picky and choosy about what they would eat and, perhaps more importantly, when they would eat it. You could set your watch the start time of my father’s breakfast. He was always a man of rigorous routine, and he got more so as he aged. By eighty years of age, his day would not start right if he didn’t have his soft-boiled egg at exactly seven AM every day. When he eventually moved into a nursing home, this routine was a real challenge. He was quite upset by the fact that the nursing home cafeteria only offered one type of boiled egg: hard. My mother smuggled several soft-boiled eggs into the home every time she visited. That helped, bu then the problem was, they were no longer warm like he liked them.

In an Adult Family Home, on the other hand, it is relatively easy for care givers to provide an almost unique food experience to each guest. Anyone who has raised a family knows that a few different meals can be prepared at the same time. Even with six residents, most will probably settle for what is being prepared, and not ask for three special meals every day. Me, I expect I’ll eat “whatever’s for dinner” if I ever have the luxury of living in a care-for situation. I’d be an easy resident on that scale, but some people are not so. For them, the Adult Family Home is an excellent choice.

Fewer residents translates into medical and health security

My father, overnight, developed type 1 diabetes when he was about thirty-three years of age. Right away, my mother began to read up on it as if she were studying to become a specialist doctor on the subject. She mastered the subject so well, she quickly surpassed my father’s knowledge of it, and some time later, understood the ailment better that any general practitioner serving my father’s medical needs. The old adage about a person being their own best doctor or a client being their own best lawyer is, I believe, mostly true. A doctor that serves thousands of different people, potentially, can only help each one of them in a sort of generalized way. Great training and experience across the subject of medical care is often inferior to a focused attention on one subject – diabetes, for instance – where a single person’s illness is also the condition being looked after. My mother didn’t really need to know, for example, about knee replacement surgery, chiropractic, or ear infections, but rather, how exactly diabetes was going to affect her one husband.

In an Adult Family Home, a single care giver can get to know the medical issues and needs of each resident. It wouldn’t take long. And what this means is, when there is a medical emergency, she can act quickly. Without having to look up a chart, the retired registered nurse can often solve a problem quickly – because they are present and because they know the resident intimately by now – and that problem does not become a disaster. In the twenty minutes it takes for an ambulance crew to find the place, diagnose the problem, precious time is lost; time in which a small problem may become a big problem.

Living in an actual single family home, it’s far easier to know if there is even a problem to begin with. You know the feeling. You’re sitting on your couch and you hear a noise. You know what sounds mean what in such a small place, and nothing is far away to begin with. In a nursing home, however, a care giver might only know there is an issue if a monitor of some kind is in operation.

Fewer residents, therefore translates into better health and medical security. An Adult Family Home offers the best of both worlds: Family life and hospital security!


Image by Angelo Sartori