What is life like for senior living in a nursing home or Adult Family Home in Bothell?

Probably the biggest difference between an Adult Family Home and a Nursing Home in Washington State is, one is personal, and the other is impersonal. What does that mean, I hear you ask! Well, one of the greatest characteristics of an Adult Family Home in Washington is that it may have a maximum of six residents. This means that it will have a much smaller staff compared to a nursing home which has no such limit, and therefore, it is easier for the staff and residents to get to know each other well.

Personal knowledge means better care

Looking after the elderly, especially in the area of memory care, is greatly improved with time. A caregiver who has looked after an elderly person for several months will usually know exactly what medications they are on, has likely met their family, and has a good understanding of their general and specific health care situation and needs. So, when an emergency surfaces at three AM – and they always surface at three AM – your wake staff caregiver will know what to do immediately. If a resident, for example, simply has a dangerously low sugar level because of their insulin shots, a caregiver who is tuned in will recognize this situation immediately and respond with the right course of action without having to even look up the resident’s medical records.

Wake Staff at an Adult Family Home

Not all Adult Family Homes have what is called “Wake Staff”. Wake staff, you might have already guessed, is when a caregiver stays at the residence overnight. To me, this is an essential element of senior care. You the saying, nothing good happens between midnight and four AM? Well in the senior care world, when it’s dark and quiet, and an elderly person wakes up with a medical issue, it can be more difficult to deal with that say, in the middle of the afternoon in broad daylight. In the afternoon, they are likely to have other residents awake and nearly, as well as caregivers – plural – on duty and ready to take action immediately. At three AM, it’s different. A senior with memory care issues may wake up and not remember where they are, what their health issues are, among other things. With wake staff nearby, caregiver staff will know the moment they wake up and set foot on the pressure pad beside their bed. Even a visit to the bathroom can be assisted. Wake staff in an Adult Family Home is essential.

Custom-fitted rooms, and bathrooms in particular

As my own father aged, we fitted his house out with ever more useful fittings. We installed very sturdy rails on the stairs wall to help him help himself get up and down the stairs. Even though my mother was in the house too, even being assisted, he really appreciated and used those rails. They were the perfect size, too, for optimal grip. We also installed rails and good shower units to make it easier for him there, as well as better lighting everywhere in and around his house. It all made the house more livable for everyone, actually, including for me when I visited.

Often, but not always, a resident of an Adult Family Home will have their own bathroom. That means they don’t have to worry about another resident “moving stuff around” on them. Aside from regular cleaning service people maintaining such a room, a personal bathroom in an Adult Family Home is like living at home in one’s own place. Even in my fifties, I have gotten quite set in my ways. I like to find the bar of soap where I left it, and not to enter a bathroom that someone left covered in water. This give me a sense of security and comfort I value greatly.

Individual food menu

One big difference between a nursing home – at least, a typical one – and an Adult Family Home is how food is selected, prepared and served. With only six residents in an Adult Family Home, it’s relatively easy to serve an individual resident more or less exactly what they need and want. In an nursing home, it’s a bit tougher, especially when there are dozens and dozens of residents living there. Imagine a nursing home with one hundred residents, and with an expected stay of say two years per resident on average. That means that a new person arrives, on average, every week approximately. It’s hard for food preparation staff to keep up with who likes what food, so it’s more likely they will prepare food with some variety of choice, but not offer many people specific meals. It’s just too hard to manage to that level, or if such a service is offered, it’s structured around a “restaurant style” of food delivery.

A good Adult Family Home will offer food to suit each individual resident under their roof. I have often felt, it’s one of the main reasons the word “Home” is in the description of the business. It should be like living at home, but with the excellent, round-the-clock care offered by full-time staff and focused attention to every resident’s medical needs.

Just like home – what every Adult Family Home should feel like

At any age, a move is challenging. A lot changes suddenly, and three is disruption at every turn. The elderly can have a harder time of it simply because, as we get older, it becomes more difficult to change. And that’s why extra care is taken, plenty of preparation work is done, and the transition is made as comfortable as possible. What’s more, moving into an Adult Family Home is often the last big move a person will make. For that and many other reasons, it’s nice to feel like you're living in an actual home where there are few enough people so you can get to know everyone intimately, and more importantly, they can know you just as well.

Before you make the big move, do the planning in detail. In fact, it’s always a good idea to get your name on the waiting list of at least one Adult Family Home. When a room becomes available, you want to be able to move quickly, without having to rush the decision.

More next week!