Together in a time of need

Coming Together in a Time of Need

When Libby Renshaw, Home Health Registered Nurse at WelbeHealth, visited Jim at his West Hollywood apartment, she became very worried, very fast. It was his first day home after multiple seizures had led to a 17-day hospital stay, followed by a month in a skilled nursing facility. She knew coming together in his time of need was critical.

“As I sat with him, I saw that he had severe tremors in his arms and hands,” says Libby. “His muscles were weak from being bedridden, and I also noticed significant memory impairment.”  

All of this was making even simple activities extremely difficult. The hand tremors were especially concerning because they made it hard for him to eat, and he couldn’t administer the insulin he needed to treat his diabetes.  

Jim had a caregiver on site that day, thanks to the quick work of WelbeHealth’s Home Care Coordinator, Michael. In addition, Jim’s good friend Amir was there and said he could assist. But these were only temporary solutions.  

“Living alone at home seemed unrealistic,” Libby says. She gently told Jim that he might need to go back to the skilled nursing facility, and she could tell that he was devastated.  

“He desperately wanted to be at home,” she recalls. “After I left his apartment, I got on a conference call with the care team. We all agreed that we would do everything possible to keep him living at home.” 

After the call, each WelbeHealth team member got to work on their part of the plan. When Libby returned to the apartment the next day, she was amazed by what she saw.  

Physical Changes All-Around 

WelbeHealth team including a physical therapist, occupational therapist, and a dietitian. They came together during Jim's time of need.
Care Team Members

WelbeHealth Occupational Therapist, Christine Gaw, had set up many solutions to make daily tasks easier for Jim.  

That day, he received a new bed rail to get out of bed more easily, and a bedside commode to avoid walking to the bathroom at night. Christine also installed a toilet riser and a shower bench to make the bathroom safer and more usable.  

She brought in a chair cushion, both for comfort and to prevent pressure ulcers, and she arranged for a recliner chair to help Jim transition from sitting to standing.  

Christine had also hunted down adaptive shoelaces—a big deal because Jim kept mentioning that he could no longer tie his shoes. 

Fitness and Food  

The apartment was humming with other team members, as well. Pam, Jim’s assigned Physical Therapist, was teaching Jim and his friend Amir a home exercise and walking program.  

Claire, Jim’s Dietitian, talked to Amir about good food for Jim. She provided ideas and recipes that tracked Jim’s preferences and would also help him manage his chronic conditions.  

Claire and Amir also talked about monitoring blood glucose levels and keeping a log to share with the dietary and medical teams. Claire noted that, in addition to using insulin, Jim could help keep his diabetes in check through his diet. 

Managing Medication  

On the medical side, Jim’s Primary Care Provider Lauren, with help from Registered Nurse Case Manager Jennifer, simplified Jim’s diabetes medications. He went from five insulin injections per day to one.   

Lauren also started Jim on medication to help reduce the tremors. She also educated both Jim and Amir on the side effects of Jim’s new seizure medication and answered all their questions.  

One Request Makes a Big Change 

Even with all these improvements, Jim and the WelbeHealth team were still concerned about whether he could safely navigate through his home, prepare his meals, and remember to take his medication. He clearly needed regular and consistent home care.  

WelbeHealth could arrange for this, but then Amir offered an even better solution; he could move in and care for Jim. Everyone agreed this was a great idea, but there was one problem. Because Jim was in Section 8 housing, strict rules applied. He could have no extra occupants and was concerned about losing his apartment since he didn’t want to violate the rules. 

WelbeHealth Social Worker, Twyla, delivered a solution by requesting a ‘reasonable accommodation’ through Section 8. With this change, a caregiver would be allowed to live in the apartment with Jim. 

Ongoing Support  

Today, WelbeHealth’s Physical Therapist continues to visit and work on conditioning and balance. And the Home Care Coordinator arranges caregiving support to support Amir and Jim. Other team members are available to help whenever needed and answer questions. 

Libby saw Jim recently and was heartened to see he was doing well. “He looked so good, and he was practically walking independently,” she says.  

Ultimately, Libby says, the experience showed her that the people at WelbeHealth don’t hesitate to go above and beyond for their participants.  

“This really is the embodiment of our values,” she says. “It is Courage to Love, Pioneering Spirit, and Shared Intention—all coming together. We provided what this vulnerable senior needed to ‘unlock his full potential’ and live independently in his community. It is a beautiful sight to see.” 

Activities for seniors

Engaging Activities for Seniors of All Ability Levels

For many older adults, staying active is a priority. Keeping up with friends, exercising, and giving back to the community brings fulfillment and joy. WelbeHealth helps facilitate meaningful physical and mental activities for seniors of all abilities.

“At WelbeHealth, activities for are adaptable to any level of ability. We find ways for every participant to engage,” says Esther De Santiago, Engagement Supervisor, Adult Engagement and Activities in Stockton. “These activities are done in a group setting. It is wonderful how the other participants cheer each other on.”

Festive Activities for Seniors

Many of our participants’ favorite activities for seniors are related to holidays and other special occasions. Our centers celebrate birthdays monthly, and national holidays are also celebrated, such as Veteran’s Day. This year, one center honored participant Veterans by giving them a certificate and a special pin to wear.

The Day of the Dead (Dia De Los Muertos) is a two-day Mexican holiday that reunites the living and the dead. Families create offerings to honor their loved ones who have passed on. Participants and staff at one WelbeHealth center worked together to create an altar to honor their friends and family members who have died. They read poetry to express their emotions and remember their loved ones.

Each Halloween, WelbeHealth staff and participants like to dress up in costumes. You’ll find all kinds of spooky characters at our centers––and Halloween candy, of course!

Thanksgiving is always a special time at WelbeHealth. Our centers serve a special candle-lit meal, display fall decor, and share what they are thankful for. After Thanksgiving, there is always lots of holiday cheer! Festive activities, meals, and decor make our centers cheery and bright all the way through New Year’s Day!

Sprint craft activity
Seniors at WelbeHealth do a craft activity.

Educational Activities

Malcomb Forbes, an American entrepreneur, said “It’s never too late to learn.” At WelbeHealth, we agree! Our activity directors bring in guest speakers to present on interesting topics such as poetry, history, and music. We’ve even had Hawaiian dancers come to share and give a hula performance.

We’ve also found that our very own staff and participants are extremely talented. We sometimes give a participant a little tap on the shoulder and ask if they’d like to present their expertise to the center. One of our participants gave a virtual presentation on her writing and art to her peers. She hopes to present in person eventually. We also had an amazing performance by a participant who is an expert in African dance and belly dancing.

One WelbeHealth staff member is a fire-breather. His performance really “lit up” the expressions of the center staff and participants!

Creative Activities

Many of our participants love to get their creativity flowing. Creative activities for seniors like embroidery, origami, knitting, and crocheting are done at the centers.

“Creative projects are something that people of all ages can engage in,” says De Santiago. “When you finish a project and realize that you created something, it can be very satisfying. Plus, we all have fun sharing ideas and creating together.”

Some participants have given back to the community through creative arts. At one WelbeHealth center, a group of participants crochet and knit clothing items to donate to a local NICU. The babies in the NICU get an article of clothing made with love by WelbeHealth participants, and participants get the fulfillment of serving these precious babies and their families.

Entertaining Activities for Seniors

We have a lot of fun at our day centers. If you ask us, fun includes dancing and singing! Participants of all abilities can engage in singing and some form of dancing. Activity directors always adjust so no one is left out of the merriment!

Thriller by Michael Jackson is a classic spooky tune played around Halloween. The famous “thriller dance” accompanies the 1982 song. At one center, participants and staff learned the Thriller dance,  standing or while seated in a chair. Laughter and cheers were shared by all!

Karaoke is a favorite activity for seniors at WelbeHealth. Many of our participants are vocally gifted and love to belt out a song for their peers. Whether you can carry or tune or not, staff and participants always cheer each other on. Whoever has the microphone is guaranteed to feel supported and celebrated!

Exercise Activities

We know that exercise is good for our bodies. It can be great for our minds too! That’s why WelbeHealth incorporates exercise into the daily list of activity options. For those who want to participate in the exercise activities, there are always modifications that can be made. Participants of all ability levels can take part and benefit from the movement.

Exercise activities done in the WelbeHealth centers include:

  • Chair Zumba: An exciting dance workout usually done alongside Latin-inspired music.
  • Tai Chi: A gentle exercise that promotes balance and stretching.
  • Therabands: Band exercise that provides light resistance to strengthen muscles.
  • Group Dance: Led by rehabilitation therapists, this is a fun, light aerobic exercise.

Supportive Activities for Seniors

WelbeHealth participants make it a point to support one another in times of loss and grief. Our participants are never alone in their pain. Each of our centers has support groups to connect participants and allow them to share their story and encourage one another.

As an example, the Forever Friends support group consists of participants and one WelbeHealth staff facilitator. The purpose of the group is for participants to support their peers as through life transitions.

In addition to support groups, WelbeHealth offers mental health services. Combined, support groups and counseling can provide the mental and emotional support seniors need to navigate loss and grief.

Join in the Fun at WelbeHealth

As you can see, there are a lot of activities for seniors at the WelbeHealth centers. An activities calendar is available to participants and their families, so they can see all that is offered. Our activities directors are open to suggestions too!

Learn more about becoming a WelbeHealth participant.

Trevor Moawad, Getting to Neutral

WelbeHealth’s Approach to Navigating the Pandemic Saves Lives

COVID-19 Hits the U.S.: Re-Prioritize and Plan

As the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic began to unfold in March of 2020, WelbeHealth’s CEO, Dr. Si France, and the company’s President, Dr. Matt Patterson, grew increasingly concerned. Information about the virus was still incomplete, but it was clear that WelbeHealth’s population of vulnerable seniors was at high risk from COVID-19. The two leaders spent the weekend of March 14 and 15 creating a plan to help ensure that patients (known as “participants”) and employees would survive the next few months. “We knew that we had to act immediately to save lives, and the best way to do that was to downshift to neutral,” says France.

Over the course of the next few days, the company leaders reevaluated their priorities and replaced them with an intentional focus on a neutral mindset and commitment to the things they could control.

A Neutral Mindset Becomes an Important Tool

WelbeHealth’s successful approach to protecting its employees and participants during the pandemic is featured in the recently released book by Trevor Moawad, “Getting to Neutral.” According to Moawad, many people are alive today, because WelbeHealth’s “dedicated staff took the right next step.”

WelbeHealth’s next steps prioritized the safety of their employees, families, and the seniors in WelbeHealth’s Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). The organization used the framework of a neutral mindset to navigate the difficult decisions throughout the pandemic: neither being overly optimistic nor falling prey to the trappings of negativity.

Because of WelbeHealth’s neutral approach, leaders were able to respond to the pandemic in a unique way. When pandemic news became overwhelming, the leadership team encouraged team members to manage their intake, and brought just the facts of the pandemic to the staff on a regular basis. This way, the organization could evaluate the changing situation without judgement, and move forward with plans to minimize the impact of the virus on their frail senior population.

France and Patterson led weekly meetings to inform, update, and encourage all employees to adopt a neutral mindset. Staying neutral allowed WelbeHealth employees to focus on what they could control and their 3-part daily checklist:

1. Read the plan of the day.

2. Execute your assignment.

3. Take care of yourself and your family.

Flexibility in Business Model

Because WelbeHealth is led by mission-driven doctors who oversee operations, clinical departments, growth efforts, and more, the team understood what was at stake, and was quick to act when the pandemic arrived. Before the end of March 2020, WelbeHealth became the first PACE organization to launch an emergency response, and shifted to delivering medical care using a home-based model instead of through the facilities. As part of this model, WelbeHealth became the first company of its kind to provide every participant with a mobile tablet device so they could interact with their medical providers, care team, and other program participants.

As soon as vaccines were available, the company became the first, non-hospital-operated PACE to vaccinate its participants as well as team members. The team also partnered with Central Valley and LA counties and volunteered on weekends to organize vaccination clinics and vaccinate 1,900 seniors and frontline workers in WelbeHealth communities.

Knowing that people were one hundred times more likely to die of COVID-19 if they are not vaccinated, the WelbeHealth team went to work educating its participants on the importance of vaccinations. The company mobilized to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to its seniors, reaching a rate of vaccination significantly higher than the population at-large, with over 90% vaccination rate.

Results of Operating from a Neutral Mindset

WelbeHealth’s neutral mindset, flexibility, and focus on vaccinations statistically saved the lives of many of their participants compared to what would normally be seen in this frail population of seniors. With a much lower rate of COVID-19 death rate than skilled nursing facilities, it’s estimated that over 100 seniors are alive today because they enrolled in WelbeHealth’s program.  As the pandemic continues, the number of lives saved by the company’s safety measures continues to grow.

France says, “Each Welbe team member plays a part in making the world a more compassionate, loving place. The legacy of WelbeHealth’s work will reverberate for generations. By helping our participants thrive and live longer, they are able to extend their profound influence to their families and communities.”

Happy senior

Medi-Cal Changes for Seniors: Free, On-Demand Webinar

WelbeHealth has a new, on-demand webinar for seniors, caregivers, and others to learn about the expanded Medi-Cal eligibility criteria in 2022. These changes will allow more people to access Medi-Cal coverage, and some seniors could become newly eligible for WelbeHealth or other PACE programs.

To watch our webinar, click on the graphic below, or visit welbehealth.com/medi-cal.

Medi-Cal Changes for Seniors, free, on-demand webinar available
Click on graphic above to access our free, on-demand webinar.

Could you now be eligible for PACE?

WelbeHealth’s PACE provides all-inclusive coordinated care. For some California seniors, the Medi-Cal changes may mean you become newly eligible for PACE programs such as WelbeHealth.

You may have questions about the expanded Medi-Cal services and health coverage. WelbeHealth has experts to help you learn if you may qualify for Medi-Cal and WelbeHealth’s PACE services. Call us at (888) 530-4415, TTY (800) 735-2922 to learn more.

Group of senior friends

The Importance of Friendships as You Age

Forming friendships as you age can sometimes be challenging. When you were a child, making friends may have come easily. A simple, “Can we be friends?” often brought us a dedicated playmate. If only it were that easy to make friends in our adult years!

Forming friendships can be more difficult as an adult, but it is still important. Researchers have discovered major benefits of maintaining friendships as we age. Below, we’ll fill you in on the power of friendship and share some tips on how to make friends as you get older.

Friends Add Years to Your Life

Want to live longer? Form close friendships as you age! An Australian study found that close relationships with family members had little impact on longevity. But people with the most friends outlived those with the fewest by 22%.

Keeping a close circle of friends also alleviates loneliness. In this study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, social isolation and loneliness were predictors of functional decline and death in those 60 years and older.

Not only do your friends add years to your life, but you also do the same for them. So when you’re spending time with friends, you can remind them of your life-extending superpower, and thank them for extending your life in return.

Friends Keep Your Mind Sharp

Researchers at Northwestern University have been studying SuperAgers since 2008. These are individuals who are 80 and older whose memory is similar to those 50-65 years old. They found that SuperAgers have more satisfying relationships than their peers in the control group.

“You don’t have to be the life of the party, but this study supports the theory that maintaining strong social networks seems to be linked to slower cognitive decline,” author Emily Rogalski, an associate professor at Northwestern, said in a press release.

Next time you call up a friend for lunch, remember that it will be a great social activity and benefit your brain!

How to Create Friendships as You Age

Get Involved in Your Community

There are opportunities to make friends right in your community. Your new friends may be waiting for you just a few blocks away. Here are ways to meet new people near you:

  • Help at a local food pantry
  • Mentor a child with Big Brothers, Big Sisters
  • Join a community or church choir
  • Attend city council meetings
  • Take an art class
  • Visit your local senior center
  • Join a gym and participate in group exercise classes
  • Find a support group

Accept the Awkwardness

Making new friends as adults can feel awkward. One of the best things you can do is accept that it may feel a little unnatural at first. Like any new relationship, it takes a while to feel comfortable.

Studies suggest that it takes several months to form a close friendship. Continue to ask engaging questions and get together on a regular basis. If you keep trying despite being a little uncomfortable, you’re bound to have budding friendships.

Become a WelbeHealth Participant

WelbeHealth participants enjoy the benefits of companionship and participate in activities that can help make you less likely to suffer from depression. WelbeHealth helps seniors live independently in their homes and communities and provides opportunities to socialize with new friends.

At WelbeHealth, friends:

  • Play dominoes, Bingo, and other games
  • Talk about common interests such as music and books
  • Share a bowl of popcorn while watching HBO movies
  • Eat meals together and swap favorite recipes
  • Support and check in on one another

Contact us today to see if you might qualify for WelbeHealth’s all-inclusive care for seniors.

National Kidney Month is in March

During National Kidney Month, we recognize how kidneys play an important role in keeping our bodies healthy. In fact, all the blood in our body takes a trip through these bean-shaped organs about 40 times per day!

Below, we’ll dive into what your kidneys do and how to keep them working in tip-top shape. We’ll also touch on chronic kidney disease symptoms and living kidney donors.

What do your kidneys do?

You have two kidneys on either side of your spine, between your ribs and your belly button. They are about the size of an adult fist, and they perform many complex functions to keep the rest of your body feeling well.

Most of us know that kidneys remove waste from our body. But did you know they also make hormones that regulate your blood pressure and red blood cells?

Yup, you can thank your kidneys for:

  • Removing excess fluid and waste from your body
  • Filtering toxins from your blood
  • Regulating the production of your red blood cells
  • Producing essential vitamins
  • Releasing blood pressure-regulating hormones

Over a million tiny filters, called nephrons, make up each of your kidneys. Nephrons work together to filter your blood, remove waste and return necessary nutrients back to your blood. The waste and extra water is what makes up urine.

How to keep your kidneys healthy

Now that we’ve talked about the importance of this organ duo, it’s clear why keeping them healthy is a priority.

Here are some things you can do for your kidney health:

  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water
  • Eat nutritious foods, like fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid eating too much salt or fat
  • Maintain a healthy blood pressure
  • Stop smoking
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Lose excess weight
  • Stay active
  • If you’re a diabetic, keep your blood sugar levels under control

Chronic kidney disease

About 1 in 7 adult Americans live with chronic kidney disease. This means their kidneys are damaged and are not functioning properly. Chronic kidney disease can be caused by diabetes, high blood pressure or an immune system disease such as lupus.

The word “chronic” is used because the disease gets worse over time. If you’re at risk for kidney disease, talk to your doctor about getting tested. The sooner you’re diagnosed, the sooner you can begin treatment. Unfortunately, there is no way to reverse chronic kidney disease, but there are ways to slow the progression, such as lifestyle and diet changes.

Learn about living kidney donors during National Kidney Month

Individuals with chronic kidney disease eventually need dialysis or a kidney transplant. In the U.S, 100,000 people are awaiting a kidney transplant. Healthy people with normal kidney function can become living kidney donors. Our bodies can function normally with just one kidney.

A living kidney donor could donate their organ to someone who needs a functional kidney. This could be a blood relative, spouse, or friend. Kidneys can also be donated to someone anonymously (non-directed donation).

In this National Kidney Month article, we hope you have learned more about your kidneys and how to keep them healthy.

Elder Fraud: How to Protect Yourself

The FBI estimates that American seniors lose $3 billion a year to elder fraud. Unfortunately, scammers often target seniors because they can be trusting and may have built up a healthy savings account over their lifetime.

Being aware of scams targeting seniors can help you protect yourself. It’s important to recognize the common tactics used in elder fraud so you know if it is happening to you or a loved one before it is too late.

What is Elder Fraud?

Elder fraud is any fraud that targets older adults. Scammers may target seniors by phone call, text message, email, or mail.

For victims, the financial impact of elder fraud can be devastating. The average victim of elder fraud loses around $34,000. Not only does it take a toll financially, but being a victim of fraud can hurt your mental and emotional health too.

Common Scams that Target Seniors

During the pandemic, there has been an increase in scams targeting seniors. As older adults spent more time online to connect with friends and family, fraudsters targeted seniors through emails and other online avenues.

Here are some of the top scams targeting seniors.

  • Romance Fraud
    The criminal targets widows and single elders, earning their trust. Eventually, the scammer asks for small sums of money and then larger.
  • Fake Grandchild
    Scammers will call a senior and say something like, “Hi Grandma, it’s your favorite grandchild.” Then they ask for money for rent, a car repair, or similar.
  • Charity Scams
    Using a fake charity name, criminals ask seniors to donate to a charity that supports a good cause. Online fund-raising pages can also be fraudulent.
  • Government Impersonation
    Criminals claim they work for the government and tell elders they’ll be prosecuted or fined if they do not comply with their request.
  • Tech Support Schemes
    A pop-up appears on the computer screen and says to call a number to resolve a computer issue. When the senior calls, the scammer poses as a tech support representative. They pretend to “fix” the computer remotely while gaining access to sensitive information and asking for payment in return.
  • Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams
    Criminals call or email claiming that the designated senior has won a prize. They say that an initial payment needs to be made by the individual to gain access to the prize.
  • Phishing Emails
    Phishing emails may look like they’re from a company you know or trust. Scammers disguise themselves to gain access to your passwords, bank account numbers, and other sensitive information.
  • Widow Schemes
    Scammers will call a surviving spouse after losing a husband or wife. They claim to work for a financial institution associated with the deceased spouse and claim they need money to pay for fees, overdue bills, etc.

How to Avoid Being a Victim of Elder Fraud

Scammers are always creating new tactics and avenues to target seniors. Here are steps you can take to stay on guard and protect yourself.

Hang Up and Call Back

Scammers often disguise themselves as a business or organization you’re familiar with. They may even disguise their number, so it looks like you’re receiving a call from a local area code. If you receive a call from a person claiming to be from your bank, the Social Security Office, or a particular charity, and they ask for personal information, hang up.

Then, find your most recent bank statement or the official phone number online and call back. This ensures that you speak with the legitimate organization or business.

Be Careful of Links and Attachments

Even if you know and trust the individual who sends you a link via email, social media, or text message, be cautious before clicking on it. You may want to call your friend or family member to verify that they sent you the link. Clicking on suspicious links can lead to viruses or spyware being downloaded to your device–something you want to avoid.

Be Aware of Acquaintances

Sadly, scammers aren’t always strangers. Be cautious when lending money to friends or family members with addiction issues, financial difficulties, or a history of criminal activity.

Reporting Elder Fraud and Scams

If you think you may be a victim of elder fraud, reach out to someone you trust. Don’t feel embarrassed. It’s important to address the issue before it becomes worse.

You can also report the scam to the local police, file an internet crime complaint, or call your local FBI office. Reporting the crime is the first step in getting the scam shut down so other seniors won’t be defrauded.

Lisa Gildea, dental hygienist, and Florentino

Dental Care Helps Seniors and Their Family Caregivers

At WelbeHealth, health care and dental care are integrated and coordinated. Once a medical provider does an initial assessment of a senior entering our program, the senior sees our dental team for preventive dental care and any necessary dental treatments.

Lisa Gildea, an RDHAP (Registered Dental Hygienist in Alternative Practice) at WelbeHealth, has made a difference in the lives of many seniors including Florentino, age 92, and his adult daughter and caregiver, Patricia.

A Caregiver’s Experience

Patricia has been delighted with the services WelbeHealth provides for her father, Florentino, especially the dental services and the in-home support they receive from Home Instead Agency—all provided through the WelbeHealth program. Patricia says, “The regular assistance with quality care from WelbeHealth and the Home Instead Caregivers allows me to continue working my full-time career, while still taking care of my father and my home. I cannot emphasize enough how much peace of mind this generates. If I can pull it off, anyone can. Just don’t give up.”

Patricia says, “Lisa Gildea has been extraordinary with my father. I have never experienced dental customer service like Lisa provides through the PACE program. Lisa spends significant time with me on the phone both before and after each of my father’s dental appointments. She assesses his situation, provides me with the supplies we need for his dental care, and answers all my questions.”

For Patricia, whose father still has a beautiful full set of teeth, it is important to help maintain his teeth now that he can’t do it for himself. Patricia says, “My father spent a lifetime taking care of his teeth, and now it is my turn to help keep them in good condition. As a caregiver, it is important to stay optimistic and tenacious. We have to persevere in finding ways to advocate and take care of ourselves and the elderly in our family and community.”

Patricia continues, “WelbeHealth sets up all his appointments, provides Lisa for his dental care, and picks him up for his appointments. They don’t give up on their geriatric patients. My father really responds to Lisa. She is creative with how she cleans his teeth, is kind, nurturing, and he picks up on that.”

Lisa Gildea and Florentino in a WelbeHealth center

Lisa Gildea and Florentino in a WelbeHeath center

Medical and Dental, all Under One Roof

Lisa Gildea talks about WelbeHealth’s integrated medical and dental services to seniors at community presentations in the Stockton and Modesto areas of California.

The presentations cover the services that WelbeHealth provides to qualifying seniors, with a special focus on its dental services. In each presentation, Gildea provides supplies for tooth brushing and flossing, and dental education such as diet, how to brush teeth and how to floss.

Table with supplies and educational materials at outreach event

Supplies and education for seniors at an outreach event

Gildea explains to senior groups that a WelbeHealth dentist typically handles the first dental visit. The dentist takes a set of x-rays, does an exam, and then explains the cleaning needs and treatment plan to the dental hygienist.

Gildea says, “I do an assessment, a cleaning, fluoride treatment, and put each senior on a routine maintenance and preventative care plan.” She adds, “At WelbeHealth, our goal is to keep seniors as healthy as possible while living in their own homes and communities.”

Gildea says there are advantages to having medical and dental all under one roof. “I can quickly talk to other providers if the senior needs a prescription, for example. Everybody understands what the senior needs—that’s part of the all-inclusive nature of the service.”

WelbeHealth transportation brings seniors to the day center for their appointments. Gildea says, “Many seniors don’t have their own transportation, so it is all pre-arranged according to their needs. If a senior comes in for a cleaning, they can also go to other appointments at the center that day, such as a routine medical check-up, lab work, or physical therapy. This minimizes the number of trips and separate appointments needed.”

Lisa Gildea at community outreach event

Lisa Gildea educates seniors at community outreach events.

The Importance of a Healthy Smile

A healthy smile can boost seniors’ confidence, keep them eating nutritious foods, and promote good health. Gildea says, “Many seniors have worked an entire lifetime and haven’t had access to dental care. I love providing seniors access to dental care to bridge that gap. At WelbeHealth, I have the flexibility to do what is best for the individual.”

Gildea continues, “Helping a senior go from poor oral health to good oral health is very rewarding. And it makes my job feel so much bigger than just doing dental cleanings. I teach seniors about the importance of good daily dental habits and routine dental care. The results are incredible and valuable because our general health is connected to our oral health.”

Gildea says she also enjoys helping seniors go from feeling nervous or fearful about their dental hygiene visit to being comfortable and excited about their visits.

COVID-19 Considerations

With COVID-19 still active in our communities, seniors are often concerned about safety. Gildea says, “WelbeHealth is very cautious about COVID-19, and has good safety measures in place. The pandemic also highlights a growing need to see seniors at home. When needed, I can visit seniors safely where they live.” Gildea takes a portable dental unit to home appointments with all the comforts of the dental office, and she has mobile X-ray equipment.

Gildea says, “Some seniors are in memory care and cannot get to the dental suite, so going to them can be the best option for their dental care.”

Comprehensive Care

WelbeHealth is unique, as it serves as both the payor and the provider. There are no outside restrictions on services such as dentures, extractions, crowns, or fillings. The dental hygienist can do deep cleanings and create maintenance schedules that fit the individual’s needs.  The dentist and dental hygienist collaborate and share information to create a treatment plan that best accommodates the patient.

Seniors enjoy the benefits of personalized and coordinated medical and dental care and have access to activities and socialization along with meals at the center. Depending on the need, Gildea will see between four and six seniors in a typical day. Gildea says, “WelbeHealth allows me to take my time with each senior, and to see them as often as I feel is necessary. This setting gives me the freedom to make decisions based on what is best for the individual.”

WelbeHealth participant, Anthony

WelbeHealth Participant, Story of Resilience: Anthony

We interviewed Anthony Mitchell, WelbeHealth participant since early 2020. Read about his experience with WelbeHealth’s PACE services.

A Family Caregiver and Self-Advocate

Before sitting down to talk with Anthony, we overhear him tell his wife, Anita, that he will take her for a manicure soon. “Every three weeks I get her a manicure and a pedicure to make her feel special,” he explains. “I just do my best to look after her.”

Anita has Alzheimer’s disease, and Anthony’s adult son has severe disabilities. For Anthony, it’s essential to stay well so he can care for his family members.

Anthony says, “I’m an advocate for myself. I don’t let myself get pushed around. I made that mistake once, to not trust my own judgment, and I wound up losing a toe [due to diabetes]. I said, ‘Never again will I do that.’ If I’m not an advocate for myself, I can’t take care of my family. I need to be here for people.”

Very Different Health Care Experiences

Anthony says, “I was not happy with my prior health plan. I felt like I was a shuffle-through. What I needed and what I was getting were two different things entirely.”

WelbeHealth’s PACE model allows Anthony to get personalized, comprehensive care. A team of experts works together to meet his health care needs.

“At WelbeHealth, I feel like people care for me. Instead of getting passed around as fast as they can. Here people make me feel special,” Anthony says. “What I like most about WelbeHealth is the way everybody works together as a team for you. Everybody I’ve dealt with has been supportive, respectful, and helpful. It’s not just beyond customer service. It’s not just beyond health care. It’s someone looking and saying, ‘This is what we need to do. We see what the problem is. Let’s pull together as a team.’

How WelbeHealth Keeps Him Going

Besides the emphasis on physical health, Anthony appreciates the mental health support provided by WelbeHealth. It has given him the support he needs to be the best family caregiver to his loved ones.

Anthony says, “At my last health plan, I was not comfortable with the mental health services, and I didn’t feel heard. At WelbeHealth, my doctor listens and helps me move forward. Without the mental health support that I have now, I could not take care of my wife and my son.”

He adds, “When you are strong mentally, you can become strong physically. That’s one of the most important things that I’ve gotten: the mental support to keep me strong, so I can be the man that I need to be.”

To Anthony, WelbeHealth has become more than a health plan or service. He says, “There’s no judgment. There’s always complete understanding. You call us participants, but I just feel more like… something special. I feel more like family. You treat me like family.”

Senior practicing yoga

Yoga for Seniors

What comes to mind when you hear the word yoga? If it’s a young person twisted into a pretzel-like position, you’re not alone. Many people don’t realize that yoga for seniors is incredibly flexible – even if you’re not! Yoga can be adapted to meet the abilities of all age groups, from children to older adults.

Yoga is ideal for seniors looking for a gentle way to care for their mind and body. Here’s how to start a regular yoga practice. (No pretzel formation is necessary!)

The Benefits of Yoga for Seniors

The mindful movement of yoga can be beneficial for everyone, including older adults. Regular practice increases muscle tone, balance, strength, and boosts mood.

Shelley Newhouse is the Director of Talent Attraction & Enablement at WelbeHealth. She is also a 500-hour certified yoga instructor with Yoga Alliance. She says yoga for seniors can help relieve stress and tension in the body.

“Yoga can make us more comfortable and at ease. When you start to integrate the breath and the mindfulness of the practice, it can be really calming,” Newhouse explains. “Yoga allows people to be more present. They aren’t as caught up in what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow. Yoga can help people enjoy what is truly meaningful.”

By lengthening and stretching muscles, yoga can provide some relief for tight muscles and joints. If you have arthritis, you may find regular yoga helpful when paired with your other treatments.

Best Types of Yoga for Seniors

Chair Yoga for Seniors

If your mobility is limited, you can still get the benefits of yoga while sitting in a chair. In most cases, chair yoga is gentle and good for seniors who may be new to the activity.

During chair yoga for seniors, poses are done while seated comfortably in a chair. Or, you may use the chair for support during standing poses. You can choose how much you use the chair depending on your body and mobility. With time and regular practice, you may find that you need the chair than when you began!

Restorative Yoga for Seniors

While traditional yoga focuses on stretching and strengthening, restorative yoga focuses on relaxation. During restorative yoga for seniors, poses are gentle and often held longer. You’ll focus on your breath and quiet your mind.

Many restorative yoga poses are done lying on the ground. These poses are supportive to the nervous system and have a calming effect on the mind.

How to Get Started

Before you begin your yoga practice, there are a few things you’ll want to do to prepare. Take these steps to choose the yoga practice that is right for you.

Talk to Your Healthcare Provider

Speaking with your healthcare provider is the first step and one you won’t want to skip. Let your doctor know that you’d like to try yoga, and make sure they don’t have any concerns.

Your physician may tell you to avoid certain poses or suggest you start with chair yoga. This conversation will help you stay safe, prevent injury, and know your limits.

Decide on Virtual or In-Person

In a post-pandemic world, yoga for seniors is more accessible than ever thanks to the internet. Do a quick search on YouTube to find many yoga videos. You’ll want to decide if you’re going to stream your yoga practice or find an in-person class.

Newhouse says there are advantages and drawbacks to virtual classes. “Virtual yoga classes are great because you can do them anywhere,” she says. “But people need to be mindful when they are doing a virtual class. They have to pay close attention to how their body feels because an instructor isn’t there to correct their alignment.”

Many beginner yogis may benefit from an in-person class where they can ask questions and get hands-on help from the instructor. Plus, being in a class with other seniors creates a sense of community. Check your local YMCA, recreation center, or senior center to find an in-person yoga class for older adults

Set the Mood

Whether you’re practicing at home or in a class, there are a few things you can do to optimize your yoga practice.

  • Choose a time of day – Pick whether you want to practice yoga in the morning or the evening. Make sure it is a time that you can stay consistent with.
  • Eliminate distractions – For some people, this may be silencing their phones or turning off the television. For others, it may mean decluttering their space.

“If your mind tends to wander, creating a distraction-free space can help you stay focused,” says Newhouse.

  • Wear comfy clothes – You don’t have to buy special clothes for yoga. Just wear something comfortable that you can move in.

 

Listen to Your Body

Like any activity, don’t push your body to its limit. If your body tells you to stop a certain movement, listen.

“You don’t need to go to the fullest extreme,” Newhouse advises. “If a movement creates pain or discomfort in your body, then definitely back off.”

Yoga Poses to Try

If you want to try yoga on your own, Newhouse recommends these poses.

 

Seated Mountain Pose

Benefits: Relaxes shoulders and promotes awareness in the body

Sit tall in your chair with your back straight and your hands on your knees. Gently soften your gaze, let your shoulders relax away from your ears, and focus on the sensation of your breathing.

 

Seated Cat/Cow

Benefits: Stretches chest muscles and releases tension in the neck

From your Seated Mountain Pose, inhale and arch your spine, moving your shoulders down your back. Exhale and round your spine, bringing your shoulders away from each other and your chin to your chest. Repeat 5-6 times.

 

Seated Side Bend

Benefits: Promotes balance and stretches the side of the body

From your Seated Mountain Pose, reach your right arm above your head and gently lean your upper body to the left. You’ll feel a lengthening sensation along the right side of your body. Hold for 3-4 breaths. Return to Seated Mountain Pose and repeat on the left side.

 

Standing Mountain Post

Benefits: Teaches the body alignment and awareness

Stand tall with your feet hips distance apart. Roll your shoulders back and bring your arms by your sides with your palms facing toward your body. Fix your gaze softly or close your eyes. Hold for 5-6 breaths.

 

Chair Pose

Benefits: Builds heat in the body and strengthens legs

From Standing Mountain Pose, sit your hips back like you’re about to sit into a chair. Shift most of your weight into your heels rather than your toes. Tuck your pelvic bone under to engage your core. Lift your arms over your head while pulling your shoulders away from your ears. Hold for 3-4 breaths.

Final Thoughts

Whether you practice once a week or every day, the benefit of yoga for seniors is the same. Many studies have shown that older adults can increase their strength, flexibility, and balance through a regular yoga practice. Speak with your healthcare provider to see if yoga is a good activity for you!