What are the most important aspects of an Adult Family Home in the Bothell area?

If you look at a map of Puget Sound, and on it are placed a mark for every Adult Family Home, you will see that the area around Shoreline, North Seattle and Bothell have a disproportionate number of Adult Family Homes. It’s probably got to do with the fact that there has been, at least in the last few decades, land and/or property that was still affordable, it was still relatively close to the more expensive cities of Bellevue and Seattle, and houses tended to have more land under them. All of those factors made Bothell and related areas interesting for would-be Adult Family Home managers. Let’s look at how these characteristics apply today, and some other factors, in what makes one Adult Family Home better than the next:

Space: Is there enough room to move around?

There is a huge variance in the amount of space there is in a given corridor in a house in Puget Sound. I remember looking at one home – I was considering purchasing it, years ago – and the first thing I realized was, the corridor from the kitchen to the back rooms was so narrow, when two average sized people passed each other in it, they had to move sideways. Well, in an Adult Family Home, there is an added need, occasionally, to move a wheelchair, other device, or even people passing one another. What if someone needed to be assisted in their mobility for some reason? The minimum Washington code for corridor width simply might not be enough. The same rule applies to the size of bathrooms. While it’s OK for a young couple to rough it in their starter home with its tiny bathroom, seniors need a little more space, and for a number of reasons.

What about outside? I remember, my father was perfectly happy never to leave the confines of his roomy house after he retired, but my mother felt the need to go outside every day. If you are one of the latter types, you will need an Adult Family Home that at least has a decent sized front and/or back yard. If you (or your loved one, if you are considering an Adult Family Home for someone else) like to walk in the woods regularly, then an Adult Family Home that is close to trails or ways to walk easily will be an advantage. Space inside, outside and close by is important to some residents, and not to others.

Food: What kind of food is served in the Adult Family Home you are looking at?

As I get old, it seems like food tastes better. In my twenties, I was happy to eat whatever arrived on the table. I’m still not a fussy eater, but I have come to appreciate food more, and I enjoy my mealtimes today a lot more than I did when I was half my current age. I also understand that many elderly people see food as one of a diminishing set of experiences they can truly enjoy. They no longer have the energy for eighteen holes of golf, or that hang-gliding hobby they used to enjoy, and even reading is now a challenge. But eating, even if you don’t have any teeth, offers some enjoyment still, even if you can only eat food that requires no chewing.

As part of any tour you might have inside an Adult Family Home you are considering, be sure to pay attention to the walk through of the kitchen. You might not be able to sample the food, but you can probably take note of what is in the fridge. More importantly, what is in the garbage? If it is full of emptied cans and jars, then it might be a sign that the food source is not so fresh, but consists more of canned, preserved and/or processed food. What about the cheese in the fridge? Is it the kins that is highly processed and slided for convenience, or is cuts of a less processed variety? What about the milk? Is it the cheapest variety available, or is it of a higher quality? It might be perfectly OK to see regular supermarket milk in the fridge – I know I always buy the cheapest type of milk for my own consumption – but it is one ingredient that can easily be upgraded.

Wake staff: Is there anyone there overnight?

It’s hard to imagine it, but some Adult Family Homes do not have care giver staff in their residence overnight. That means, if there is a problem at three AM, a monitoring service – or perhaps no one at all – has to notice what has happened. It might be simply that someone fell out of bed and needs help getting back in, but it might be that they have gone into insulin shock and need immediate attention. In such emergencies, an overnight care giver can rectify a small problem before it becomes a disaster. Without wake staff, there is going to be a time delay. If 911 were called, it takes time for help to arrive. Then they have to gain access, find the person who needs help, then try to diagnose them quickly before taking a course of action. They are working with a stranger – to them, at least – and must be careful, so every step simply takes more time. Wake staff, on the other hand are likely to be intimately familiar with everyone’s particular needs and medical condition. Perhaps more importantly, there are feet away, and can respond immediately.

Peace and quiet: is the Adult Family Home a quiet place?

I used to think hearing loss was simply the “volume going down”, but after I lost a significant amount of hearing in my left ear, I noticed, it was loss of hearing only in lower tones. That is, I could still hear someone speak with a higher pitch than with a lower pitch. I understand since then, and from others’ experiences, hearing loss is selective. Because my left-ear hearing is selective in that way, I can actually pick out higher pitched sounds as ‘louder’. Lower pitch white noise, does not block out hearing those sounds, so early morning bird chirping always wakes me up. I am sensitive, therefore, to certain types of noise.

Does your loved one have any hearing loss, and is it in selective pitches? Take note of what kinds of noises there are in any Adult Family Home you are considering for you or your loved one. There’s nothing better than a good night’s sleep, undisturbed by any sound.

More next week!