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Letters to the Editors

Care homes make quiet neighbors

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 1, 2001

Editor: Re: Nursing homes dot Spring Hill map, April 12 letter to the editor:

Mr. Perlow felt the need to warn all potential home buyers in Hernando County, especially Spring Hill, to beware. Their new neighborhood could, in fact, house a residence that is an adult family care home (AFCH), which he called, and I quote, "nursing home."

An AFCH is licensed by the state governing body called Agency for Health Care Administration. Furthermore, Hernando County permits them in residential zoning. Yet, Mr. Perlow indicated his and any other property owners' rights are being violated by their existence. He claimed these homes interfere with the peaceful enjoyment of one's own property.

An AFCH is not a nursing home. Nursing homes provide what is called "total care." An AFCH provides "supervision/ assistance." An AFCH is a home environment, very family oriented, that can take up to five adult residents. These residents are not able to live on their own, whether they are young adults with physical or mental impairments, or the elderly who are in decline. An AFCH is a wonderful alternative to a larger assisted living facility. Many elderly flourish better in the smaller environment, while others do well with the assorted opportunities of a larger facility. Isn't it great? We have all these options when we become independent no more.

An AFCH has no sign in its yard and looks like any other house. There could be one in your neighborhood and you don't even know it. Elderly people don't usually have parties at midnight, or play in the street. They are usually quiet people. Residents at an AFCH usually don't get out much. Therefore, there might be cars coming and going bringing specialized personnel to meet their needs. And hopefully a visitor or two in between.

My father lives in an AFCH. He's been there since last August. My mother lived there too, but she recently passed on due to a massive stroke. When the hospital was ready to discharge her into the care of hospice for her final days, she was welcomed back to the AFCH -- her home -- to finish out her life.

She did not have to go to an unfamiliar environment. She was able to be with her husband of 58 years. She was cared for by the AFCH family who took her in eight months ago. She was cared for by these caregivers who had grown to love her. When she took her last breath, my father was sitting by her side.

Yes, it's true. My mother's ambulance might have awakened the neighbors, as it was very early morning. Too bad she couldn't have timed it better. And, yes, there were cars with hospice nurses 'round the clock her last few days.

But this could happen at any home, not just an AFCH. It could even happen in an exclusive gated community.

Mr. Perlow, it could even happen at your home someday. It could be you needing care. Will you worry about the neighbors then?

Mr. Perlow, maybe if you busied yourself through some volunteerism, while you are still healthy and lucid, you'd have less time to nit-pick in your neighborhood. Maybe some resident at an AFCH would really appreciate some simple companionship and conversation to brighten up his/her day. What an easy way for you to refocus your energies and give back to society.

As a matter of fact, my dad could be the first recipient of your good graces. He could use some companionship, especially now, as he just lost his wife.

If you would like to meet him, it would be an easy commute. Just walk next door. I'll introduce you as the guy who complained to the sheriff about mom's ambulance. Sorry you lost your sleep.
-- Jan Zuccarini, Spring Hill

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