Questions to ask at an Adult Family Home in Shoreline before selecting one

An Adult Family Home has a very specific, defined meaning in Washington State. There are a number of laws and procedures around the term, and those laws are there to protect the consumer, and create a level playing field for all those providers who wish to offer such services within the state of Washington. Hows does this work? When you put your organization out to offer an Adult Family Home, you must meet certain criteria. People know, precisely because of these laws, what to expect in any Adult Family Home. For instance, you know that there a maximum number of residents allowed, and that maximum is six. What that means is, it doesn’t take long to get to know everyone in the residence, and familiarity brings with it a level of security and comfort. But what about the “extras”? Let’s look at what those might be:

Are there flexible food options in the Adult Family Home?

Let’s face it. There could be a very rigid food regimen, where everyone gets set meals at exact times of the day, or there could be very flexible options, where specific food allergies, diabetic needs or simply taste preferences are taken care of in exquisite detail. An Adult Family Home can save money by being rigid, but it can also provide an excellent level of food service.

As we age, food becomes more of an issue in this way. We ‘learn’ what kinds of food work well for our bodies, and what kinds of food don’t work so well. In many cases, food can be a direct health issue. If you have diabetes, for instance, eating two helpings of key lime pie every evening is likely to hurt you – tasty and all as it is – and yet, other residents in the Adult Family Home might be totally happy and healthy with that. Food flexibility is top of my list of questions when talking to the manager of your Adult Family Home. On quiet days in the middle of the Seattle winter, the next meal might be the most exciting thing to happen all day.

What are the noise levels like, especially at night?

This is not an easy question to answer, but it’s good to ask. Even the reaction will tell you something. But looking at the ADH building itself on Google Maps might tell you a lot about what noise levels to expect at three in the morning.

Noise is not the same for everyone. I discovered last year that as a person’s hearing fails, it doesn’t fail uniformly. And it’s unique per person. By that I mean, you might lose hearing in mid[range frequencies, but not in high or low, ir you might lose hearing in an odd set of frequencies, but hear perfectly well in others. What this means is, you might actually be more sensitive to, say the deep rumble of a truck rolling over a pothole right outside the Adult Family Home, but not hear the high-pitched screaming of neighbors quarreling at four in the morning. Seniors need their sleep more than anything, and a good night’s uninterrupted sleep makes everyone a happy person all the next day. Studies have shown that excellent sleep management as we age improves just about every other health aspect a person might be challenged with. It lowers blood pressure, sugars, heightens focus and concentration, and lifts the spirits of almost anyone. We all know this from taking care of young children, and it’s pretty much the same throughout life.

Quality and experience of all of the staff

Experience always counts, of course. In an Adult Family Home, experience means having had to look after seniors earlier in life or in a previous career. It just so happens that many Adult Family Home staff were, in a former life, a registered nurse. Just imagine the difference now between working full time in a hospital – where everyone is, but the institutes's nature, sick – how easy it would be to take care of just six residents who, to the most part, will be healthy all day long. And at the same time, that wealth of care giving experience will pay big dividends when that medical emergency does happen. And that brings me to another very important question: Wake Staff.

Is there ‘Wake Staff’ in the Adult Family Home every night?

Wake Staff is when the Adult Family Home has at least one person staying overnight in the residence. Yes, it’s hard to believe there might be an Adult Family Home with no one care giver under the roof at night time, but Wake Staff is not a legal requirement in Washington State for a business to call itself an Adult Family Home.

Having Wake Staff means that there is always someone to jump into the ready when that inevitable emergency surfaces at three in the morning. And if that wake staff person is a retired registered nurse, they then have the skill set to deal with almost any medical emergency that might occur.

The combination of Wake Staff, retired registered nurses, and a flexible food plan can make an Adult Family Home a wonderful place to live.

Take your time and ask the right questions. Visit each actual residence, and plan ahead so that when the time comes to make the move, it’s a pleasure.

Come back next week. I’ll be here.