What health-related questions should I ask of the Adult Family home management and staff? I live in Shoreline.

If you are considering a particular Adult Family Home residence, then the capacity of the staff to deal with an unexpected medical emergency is going to be of paramount importance. Not all Adult Family Homes are equal. Some have wake staff, some have a preponderance of retired registered nurses as their primary staff, and both these qualities will tell you a lot about the kind of health support capacity the residence has. Let’s go into each of these, and other, details:

“Wake Staff” in an Adult Family Home

Wake Staff is the term used for the caregiver staff who remain on site at the Adult Family Home residence during the night. What it means is that the Adult Family Home is effectively staffed round the clock. There is always someone on staff to take care of an emergency.

It’s hard to imagine having no caretaker there at the residence of an Adult Family Home for even a few minutes, but it’s not a legally mandated requirement of an Adult Family Home in the State of Washington to employ one. This makes it one of the very first questions to ask: do they have Wake Staff?

Adult Family Home staff who are retired registered nurses

Looking after relatively healthy seniors in an Adult Family Home is a pretty easy task for an experience retired nurse. If a resident needs to visit a hospital because of a medical emergency, that is taken care of immediately, of course, so it’s clear to see that almost any other medical emergency experienced at an Adult Family Home will be significantly easier to deal with for a registered nurse.

The same caretaker staff at least most of the time

For your loved one living in the Adult Family Home residence, it’s important for a feeling of security and comfort to see the same staff looking after them. Clearly, no one can work all day every day of the week, but the same handful of caregivers will give each resident a sense of continuity and familiarity that is needed to bring a sense of medical security. Secondly, each staff member – in a situation where they are working in the same Adult Family Home residence continuously – has the chance to know each resident very well. This allows a good caretaker to make better choices for their health, diet and everything else, simply because they know the person very well.

What’s also very important – although not a question you need to ask because the answer is always yes – is about the limit on the number of residents in a single Adult Family Home residence. That number is six in the State of Washington, and it too helps each caregiver know each resident intimately. It’s why the ‘family’ is in the term Adult Family Home. With a maximum of only six residents in any one residence, each caregiver is faced with what is essentially a ‘family’ sized group of people to take care of.

Food is an intrinsic element of every person’s health

An Adult Family Home is a place where a resident expects to be cared for. It’s not, for example, a base of operations for a resident to start a new business, or take on any such major endeavor, although in many cases, a resident can be partially involved in a business they might have owned or managed for years earlier. But mostly, an Adult Family Home offers a senior a place to rest, relax, sleep well, exercise, and stay on an excellent food regimen. This is possible when the residence in question offers what I call food flexibility. Food flexibility means offering each resident what they need and what they like. In most cases, a foundational set of meals are going to work for most or all of the residents, and there are just a few meals out of the day that likely need to be adjusted for them.

Most Adult Family Homes will of course aim to keep every one of their residents healthy and happy. For pure operational reasons, it makes sense. An excellent diet means fewer health issues to take care of, and a longer life means fuller occupancy for any Adult Family Home that wants to stay in business. Organic food is something to aim for, at least, in most cases. The good news is, today, most big box providers like Costco and so on offer a growing range of large-quantity organic produce and packaged foods. For instance, a few years ago, organic coconut oil for example was very expensive indeed. It’s regarded as “the perfectly healthy oil”, with no side effects which might, over time, accumulate a problem in any person. Coconut oil is special in that way, but has been expensive. Today, big box stores offer it at a great price, as they do many other organic products. This makes it easier for an Adult Family Home to offer an increasing portion of their food as organic.

Beyond organic produce, the next best thing is freshness. Food won’t always be available in fresh form, but limiting the food supply through canned or processed variety means healthier and happier residents. It’s absolutely the best solution for seniors.

My father had type 1 diabetes from about thirty years of age – it came on quite suddenly immediately after major surgery – to the day he died at 83 years of age. My mother dedicated herself to learning what the best food was for him, which, by the way, contributed to his living a comfortable and long life, and she often said that what she learned to prepare for him was precisely what everyone should eat. It’s tough to ask teenagers or younger folks to eat a strict diabetic diet, but it’s certainly very healthy. There is far, far too much sugar in the diet of young people today. But I digress... A diet sympathetic to the needs of a diabetic – either type 1 or type 2 – is not that hard to deliver, and is a question I would ask any prospective: Can you support a strict diabetic diet?

That’s it for today. I’ll be back next week to continue to conversation!