Is an Adult Family Home in the Shoreline area a safe place to live for a senior suffering from memory loss?

Over the past decades, crimes rates have dropped in the Puget Sound area, as well as across the country. But you’re probably meaning the question in terms of the health and safety issues than may arise for an elderly person living in a home, away from their loved ones, and at the mercy and quality of the caregivers who work to take care of them. The short answer is yes, and for the simple reason that Washington State has great laws in place – and strictly enforced, I might add, as they should be – that speak directly to the health and safety of anyone living in an Adult Family Home. So, what are some of those laws and, more importantly, how do we all know they are adhered to?

Adult Family Homes in Washington State receive regular surprise inspections

If a business advertises itself as an Adult Family Home in the State of Washington, it must, first of all, have the appropriate license to operate as such. To get such a license, a would-be business operator has to pass a number of hurdles, including show appropriate qualification to run such an outfit. You can’t, for example, go from running a profitable newsstand to receiving your license to open an Adult Family Home. Each case if unique, and the requirements should be studied well by someone planning on such a business, and before they go too far into execution of it.

Even when you have the Adult Family Home residence up and running, the building housing the residence itself must be inspected by the state. Everything from outlet safety to functioning and comprehensive smoke and hazard detection (e.g. carbon monoxide gas) must work correctly. If such a smoke detector is ‘chirping’ (indicating the battery is low), it will go on the list of what must be immediately addressed. Lighting is critical where elderly people live because they often have poor eyesight, and extra light can make a room a lot safer, when that light is needed. You will often find, in an Adult Family Home, a lot more lights than you might think are necessary.

As an Adult Family Home operator, you might be lucky to get 24 hours notice of an impending inspection. That’s enough time, perhaps, to make some minor fixes around the building, but not to turn a ‘bad’ place into a ‘good’ place. Operators of Adult Family Homes know that this requires a regular and comprehensive attitude to cleaning and servicing.

Rules about who is allowed inside an Adult Family Home

A single residence is allowed to house no more than six residents on an indefinite basis. Even if a couple are occupying a single room, that couple would count for two of the residents. Why this is important is, the state probably determined that it’s at ‘about six’ that a ‘home’ turns into something bigger, perhaps a hostel of sorts, and that the limit should be six for that reason. At that number, caregivers who work there all day – and sometimes all night – have a reasonable chance to become familiar with the needs of the entire residency. Beyond that, it no longer feels like a home, one could well argue.

Another safety aspect of ‘who can live under the same roof’ when it comes to Adult Family Homes is, every resident must have had a background check in order for them to live there. If, for example, the operators were to rent the upstairs to a couple, and if they were to share the same entrance and exist as the residents of the Adult Family Home, those residents would need to have a background check on file. That’s because, where there are elderly living, there are likely prescription drugs, which makes them a target for would-be drug thieves. That background check significantly decreases the chances of misbehavior, and protects the residents, even if they are not fully aware that the law is there to do so.

Medical directors are sometimes available in an Adult Family Home

With six residents under care, it’s easier for an operator of an Adult Family Home to scale the cost of having regular visits by a medical director. For example, if such a director were a nurse practitioner, he or she would be able to write a prescription for a resident, get it into the hands of their local pharmacy, and get it delivered directly to the home. That can often happen within an hour or less, given the particulars of the situation. This has several benefits. A resident with, for example, a bladder infection, can be on the correct medication within an hour of diagnosis. What’s more, there is no need for a hospital visit – or even a visit to a clinic, where the wait might be significant – with all the risks that come with that, and the infection risk to other clinic visitors, themselves, and all the ‘hospital super bugs’ we hear about.

Wake staff might be more capable than you, in looking after your loved one

If you’ve ever had your adult, senior parent live in your home, and under your care, you will know that it can be challenging. They might have special food needs, medical attention, health issues, as well as every domestic need all of us have. On top of that, you might have your own kids running and screaming about the house, and a job to go to every way. Your adult parent might be hanging out at your home for longs hours of the day. What happens if they fall, or pass out, or simply feel depressed and are less able to look after themselves. And then there’s the loneliness of it all. Many elderly people are subject to loneliness than we might be aware of. In an Adult Family Home, there are caregiver staff there all day long. If they have ‘wake staff’, then they are also cared for all night long.

So, between capable staff and security procedures across the board, an Adult Family Home is a very safe place to live for a senior.