Monday, February 18, 2013


In the Pacific NW we have a practice: when the sun shines and the clouds stay west over the ocean, leave whatever you’re doing and get outside. Friday was such a day and we drove to the Mukilteo Lighthouse Park along with about 200 strangers. The sun was welcome and so warm we weren’t out of the car five minutes before we took off our jackets and put them back into the car. It was easy to tell who had been enjoying the park the longest: they wore the least coverings. Children squirmed and escaped in t-shirts. An overdressed man struggled with a malevolent kite that kept dipping and threatening people studying the rocks as the tide went out. I found several small star fish on large rocks.  

Then it was time to return home and back to work.

The sculptor, Louise Nevelson wrote about her work in Dawns and Dusks, “Because it’s living. It’s like pure water; it’s living. The essence of living is in doing, and in doing I have made my world.”


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Primer on WA Adult Family Homes

Guest writer Alice Kalso

King County alone has more than 1065 homes.  No wonder they're springing up everywhere.  Adult family homes cost one third to one half of a nursing home.  They provide a more homelike setting. All in all, adult family homes are worth considering if your aging parent needs considerable care.

These homes usually have six residents cared for around the clock by trained caregivers. But is the right one hard to find?  One that will fit your parent's needs?

Last week I began checking them out in Bothell, my hometown.  I wanted to experience the "hunt," and offer a few tips to you and others who might be looking for your aging parent.  Here are some things I discovered.

1.  Washington State's DSHS website has a page devoted to finding adult family homes. Other states have similar listings.  I did an advanced search for the three Bothell zip codes.  My printed list included 84 homes.  In my zip code alone there were 24 homes.  Quite a few, all within a mile or two of my house.

2.  The DSHS website lists key items for each home including
§ Enforcement letters.  These are letters the State issues the home for violations of statutes.  They can be for anything for failing to pay the annual required fees to not reporting an emergency in a timely manner. 
§ Medicaid acceptance.  This is more than a little tricky.  Most homes say they will accept Medicaid but require between 18 months and 3 years of private pay before a resident can convert to state assistance.
§ Specialties.  Most adult family homes specialize in caring for residents with dementia and/or mental health issues.  A few also accept developmentally disabled residents.
3.  In my ongoing visits, I've found.
§ Diversity.  Two homes only take Russian-speaking residents.  One home I visited specializes in older developmentally disabled males.  Other homes desire females only who are frail. Most homes cannot accept exit-seekers--residents who continually try to leave.  Yet other homes with locking devices feel comfortable with these types of residents.  Still others take on pretty much any kind of a challenge, from post-strokes to recovering hip fractures to dementia in its many stages.
§ Somewhat uniform pricing.  Older homes may have a smaller price tag than newer ones, but not by much.  Generally adult family homes start at $3500-$5000, with higher fees for residents with greater needs.
§ Visiting is important but wearing.  Family members may want to trust a professional, such as a senior housing specialist or a geriatric care manager, to help them with the hunt. 
Have you looked for an adult family home for your aging parent?  If so, what has helped in your search?

Friday, February 8, 2013


Out and about yesterday I regretted wearing a vest rather than a sleeved jacket. Not cold, not warm, the in-between that February gives us is confusing. Once we’ve left the house our decision affects us for the duration.

Today walking around the front garden without vest or jacket but with a pot of primroses in each hand, I am faced with another fact of February: weeds. Those nasty bunches of round, green leaves have been proliferating when I was busy coming and going. As the spring flowers are also pushing up their tiny green noses it is obvious I will be pulling weeds by hand if I don’t get the first layer hoed off soon.

Last year the magazine, Birds and Blooms, suggested soaking flat cardboard and laying it on areas of the garden where perennials aren’t trying to emerge. The end result is the nasty weeds come up but get no sunlight and DIE. We hope. We buy stacks of eggs nesting on paper mache trays which, after the eggs have been used, I have been layering under the shrubs and wherever the weed seeds threaten. Using thick cut brown mulch I am covering the cardboard. Hopefully the layers over this next year will eliminate the need for strenuous weeding over and over throughout the rainy Spring and early Summer.

Lots of hope and hopefully, less stress on my aging physique which seems to be the only part of life that doesn’t change. Aging that is.