By Tim Mitchell, Fund Development Coordinator, Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E.
(Originally published in Senior Times April 2019)
He looked stressed! Then the reason became apparent as he explained, “An appointment with the neurologist is set for Thursday at 9 am. Then next week it will be a trip to the cardiologist on Monday and the podiatrist on Friday. In two weeks is the follow-up appointment with the primary care doctor. At the end of the month, an appointment is set to see a doctor at the VA hospital, because in order for the VA to fill Dad’s prescriptions, they have to see him in person. That takes care of Dad’s appointments for the month. Thankfully Mom is in better physical condition, however, her dementia is worsening and she is becoming very agitated, especially in the evenings. She sometimes throws things at Dad and hits him. In fact, Dad just called to say, ‘I’m going to divorce her. I can’t stand it anymore.’ That’s after 62 years of marriage. I get those calls periodically. That means I will probably spend the night with them tonight and see if the doctor will see her tomorrow to regulate her medication again. I know that also means I will have to take her back to the doctor a few times this month until they are able to balance her medication so it will reduce her agitation without making her lethargic.”
This scenario is a real conversation with a real caregiver. Unfortunately, this example is repeated over and over all across the country. It is an example of traditional geriatric care in a society that provides the best healthcare in the world, as well as an example of the overwhelming responsibility family members have to their aging parents. It is a highly stressful situation for all involved.
The reality is that 10,000 people every day turn 65 and people are living longer with diseases and conditions that were not treatable at one time. That translates into many appointments to see doctors located in various places, some even dozens of miles away. As older adults age and are not able to take care of themselves, the responsibility often falls on other family members.
The parents in the above real-life scenario could very easily qualify for nursing home care. However, understandably, they as well as most older adults prefer to continue to live at home. In several public opinion surveys conducted by AARP and other groups, the statistics are quite consistent indicating that eight out of ten older people would like to stay in their own homes, or at least their own communities, for as long as possible. However, the effort necessary to enable seniors to remain safely in their own home can be overwhelming for caregiving family members.
Fortunately, there is an alternative for senior healthcare in our community – Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E. No longer do older adults have to bounce from one doctor to another for their healthcare needs. Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E. makes quality healthcare for seniors much easier by providing most of the needed services under one roof, and they even provide transportation to and from the center. Equipped with a full medical clinic, physical therapy room, and a day center for socialization, they currently serve over 450 participants throughout Calhoun, Kalamazoo, eastern Van Buren, southeastern Allegan and southern Barry counties. Home services are also provided for many participants.
Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E. was originally established in Battle Creek as an alternative healthcare and wellness option for seniors living within Calhoun County, welcoming their first seven PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) participants in April of 2009 at the Battle Creek facility located inside the Kool Family Center. Subsequent to this startup, two additional centers were opened in Kalamazoo in 2013 and Portage in 2019. A fourth center is slated to be open in Albion in early 2020 pending final approval by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.
A family caregiver recently said, “If it wasn’t for Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E., we would have had to put Mom in a long-term care facility. But with your help she is able to continue to live at home just like she wanted and I’m very happy we can honor her desire to be at home.” She went on to say, “My only regret is that I wish I would have enrolled Mom in the program sooner.”
If you or a family member are looking for an alternative to the traditional healthcare model most seniors experience, please call (269) 441-9319 to set up an appointment to discuss options available to you through Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E. or visit the website at www.seniorcarepartnersmi.org. Experience the Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E. Difference!