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

Every home is different, of course, so doing one’s homework before committing to a specific Adult Family Home in particular, is worth it. Some businesses have several AFHs under their management, but each will be different, and for a variety of reasons. The people, the location, the quality and size of the home, as well as location and proximity to loved ones all make each home unique.

The staff

High on the list of important factors is the staff who are there every day. Take the opportunity to meet everyone and get to know them. Consider it a bit of an interview, and bear in mind what your own loved one is sensitive to. Does your mother/father like a highly organized, disciplined place to live, or do they prefer a more relaxed, easy-going place which might be a bit noisier. Whatever the case, a lot will be decided by just how the everyday staff behave and perform. You should get a sense of that if you see how they interact with the residents.

How well are they qualified, trained, and do they speak your loved one’s mother tongue well? If your mother is a Spanish-speaking immigrant, and she struggles with English, an AFH home with staff that speak fluent Spanish will be a plus. Still, staff come and go, so ask if they make your language of choice – it’s probably English – a requirement of any new staff.

Are all staff qualified? In Washington State, there are minimum requirements for all staff who take care of seniors, so ask about that, too.

The food

For many seniors, especially those who struggle with ailments of all types, meal time can be one of the more interesting times of the day. Does the food seem more like that it’s from the local cheap buffet diner, or is there care and attention put into the selection, storage, preparation and serving of meals? You might consider timing your visit with that of meal time. And better, if you can see how they prepare it, you may learn a lot. It’s challenging to make everything 100% fresh, but neither do you want everything to come out of the freezer and cans. Ask about where food is bought, and how it is stored and prepared.

Noise levels

It’s a common misconception that a hearing aid works like a tiny, simple amplifier. In face, hearing loss does not impact all frequencies equally. After one’s hearing is tested, the impacted frequencies are given appropriate, inverted volume, so the net effect is an evenness across all frequencies a person can hear in. What this means is (1) every hearing aid is unique, and (2) people with partial hearing loss may be disturbed by one sound, and not by another. One person might hear the deep rumblings of far away trucks, while another might be irritated by the sound of a radio left on all night.

Take your loved one to the Adult Family Home in question and try to determine what they hear above everything. Not every AFH is equal, so for your loved one, it might make no difference, or they might need to be on a quiet street in order to get a good night’s sleep every time.

The location

My father, before he passed away, was absolutely not interested in going on any outings. He wanted to sit at home and listen to his music, and watch a bit of TV. He was perfectly happy to spend the rest of his days with the four walls of his new, shared home. For him, it didn’t matter where the home was situated, but for most residents, location is everything.

If your loved one is independent, and is ambulatory enough to go for a walk on their own or with some residents, the proximity of easy-to-access walkways will be essential. Some adult family homes allow small pets, such as dogs, and this will enable your loved one to get regular exercise, but only if there is easy access (and safe access) to it. It’s a simple aspect of and Adult Family Home to overlook, but it can make all the difference.

Another aspect of location is how far the home is away from you. Four of five miles away is going to be easy for you when you visit, but will you be able to drive forty miles every weekend to visit your mother? For many of us, that’s not a problem, but make sure you choose a place that fist with your willingness to travel. Proximity is also a consideration in an emergency. You can hop into a car as drive three miles, and be there almost immediately, but a lot can happen in, for example one hour, in a health emergency of an elderly person.

Other residents

Some Adult Family Homes are picky about who they let become a resident. If they have an attractive and competitive offering, rooms will fill quickly, and they will likely have their “pick of the litter”, as it were. On the other hand, if they will take anyone who wants to join, they may have more than their fair share of difficult residents. It usually all comes with the package. Good food = good sound levels = good residents. You do want to know if the place is up to your standards. The atmosphere can be spoiled by a single resident, so checking the AFH’s acceptance criteria is essential.

The rooms

I like my sleep, and I’m a typical human in that I spend a third of my life in bed asleep, and more time there, before and after sleep. Sometimes I go for an afternoon nap, so all told, I spend a lot of time in my bedroom. In an Adult Family Home, a resident is likely to spend an even greater amount of his or her time in their bedroom. And it’s also the one part of the AFH that a resident ‘owns’ and can escape to in complete privacy when things get too intense or tiring. So, the room is critical. Is there enough space, is the bed good? What about bathroom facilities? Do they support use by the elderly or the infirm? For me, I like great lighting. Does the room simply have a few lamps, or is there recessed lighting in addition? Good, full-spectrum lighting can have a positive effect. Ask about it before you commit your loved one to moving in.

Thanks for visiting my blog! Check back next week for another letter from yours truly!