Photo: Michael Juceam, owner of Right at Home in Sarasota

Aging in the Right Place: Considering Whether Home Health is the Right Option for You

Posted on September 08, 2019 by Michael Moore Jr., Herald-Tribune Media Group

Private duty home health care, which is separate and tends to be more comprehensive than similar services offered by medicare, could be the key to staying in your own home longer if you can afford it.

There may come a point in your life when you can no longer do it all on your own, and that’s OK. When it comes to aging in your own home, sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to recognize when it might be time to bring in a little help. But if opening your mind to the idea of assistance is half the battle, then finding good help is the other half.

If that’s the case, then you might want to do yourself a favor and find a reputable in-home care service provider to see if that’s a good option for you.

“We provide you with the safety of an assisted living experience but within the comforts of your own home,” said Andrew Burke, owner and operator of several Granny Nannies locations in the area.

Granny Nannies and other home health providers come directly to your house to help you with a variety of tasks, such as taking you to appointments, helping you with meal preparation and grocery shopping, or even making sure you get bathed and stay on top of your hygiene.

But it’s important to know what you’re getting, because not all levels of care are equal, according to Michael Juceam, owner of the Sarasota location of in-home care provider Right at Home. There are three different primary levels of care: skilled care, personal care, and homemaker companion. Which one you get directly correlates with what level of training the caregiver has and thus impacts what they are allowed to do.

While skilled care has to be provided by a licensed practical nurse or registered nurse and can perform all the hands-on duties such as managing medication, a homemaker companion is usually only allowed to do things like provide social companionship or helping a client with errands. Both Juceam and Burke agreed, most clients tend to opt for a homemaker companion when they need at least someone qualified to do personal care so that they can assist them with activities of daily living.

“It’s better to start with a home health aide who is more qualified if you’re on the borderline of needing more care so that you don’t have to start over with someone else a few months down the road,” said Juceam.

While Juceam did cite cost as one of the reasons many people opt to go for less help than they need in instances of private-pay home health, he said that denial about how much help they need or resistance to giving up their independence were sometimes even more significant factors.

Susan Vowels, owner of private home health agency Nursing Styles, said that one of the most common misconceptions new clients have is that home care will reduce their independence. She’s found it to have the opposite effect.

“Making sure they get to their doctor’s appointment is important, but it’s also about the social aspect, too,” said Vowels. “We’ve found that one of the things that go by the wayside as people age is they don’t always have the energy to get out and do the things that they enjoy. It’s amazing what just getting someone out of the house does for people.”

But first, you have to be willing to ask for help. All three home care providers agreed that the earlier you get started, the better. Waiting for a crisis situation is the most common time home health aides are brought in, but it doesn’t have to be. Juceam said that more often than not, it’s concerned family members who make the call and have the difficult conversation about home health and recommends that they look out for hygiene issues, such as food stains, unusual odors or a messy house, which could be indicators that a loved one may need a little extra help around the house.

This story comes from Aspirations Journalism, an initiative of The Patterson Foundation and Sarasota Herald-Tribune to inform, inspire, and engage the community to take action on issues related to Age-Friendly Sarasota, Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, National Council on Aging and the Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition.

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