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Caregiving for elders

Costs of Caring for an Aging Loved One

Many adult children care for a parent in their golden years. Some are surprised by the costs of caring for an aging loved one. Family caregivers spend an annual average of $7,400 of their own money on caregiving expenses. In combination with a possible loss of income due to time away from work, it can sometimes be a financial strain for families.

Here are three steps you can take to reduce out-of-pocket caregiving expenses and recover some financial costs.

1.  Create a budget and track expenses.

Caring for an elderly loved one includes many expenses that you may not think of. Keep track of these expenses. After a few months, you can better predict what your caregiving expenses will be and adjust your budget accordingly. If you have siblings or other loved ones who may share the caregiving costs with you, it is a useful tool to split costs evenly. If you haven’t already, consider asking your loved ones for help with these caregiving expenses.

Possible Recurring Caregiving Expenses Possible One-time Caregiving Expenses
·         Groceries

·         Medical co-payments

·         Travel to and from doctor’s appointments

·         Incontinence supplies

·         Clothing

·         In-home professional care

·         Housekeeping

·         Mortgage

·         Home modification (railings, shower seat, etc.)

·         Medical alert system

·         Vehicle modifications

2.  Research tax implications of caregiving.

Understanding IRS guidelines for caregiver and senior filing can save you money and help you recoup some of your caregiving costs. If you meet these seven requirements outlined by the IRS, you may be able to claim an elderly parent as a dependent on your tax return. You may also be able to deduct medical expenses and home modification costs up to a certain amount. If you’re not sure about IRS rules and guidelines, talk to a tax professional to make sure you qualify for these benefits.

3.  Consider professional support.

For caregivers who want to keep their loved one at home, participating in a local Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) can provide professional medical care and significantly reduce the costs of caring for an aging loved one.

PACE provides eligible seniors the following services, typically at no added cost:

  • Preventive care and routine screenings
  • Dental and vision care
  • Transportation to medical appointments
  • Medical supplies, home safety modifications, and much more

PACE participants have a team of health care professionals that work to develop a customized care plan for each individual.

To learn more about WelbeHealth’s PACE services, visit welbehealth.com.

What is PACE? How can it help me stay independent?

What is PACE, and how can it help me stay well and independent?

Too often, elders and their caregivers struggle to get the help they need in their homes. Maybe you’re experiencing this challenge yourself. If so, you may not realize that WelbeHealth provides an affordable alternative to nursing home care, called PACE. PACE is a program that keeps seniors with complex health conditions living safely in their homes and gives families the support they need. But, what exactly is PACE? What are the benefits of the program? Below, we’ll explain.

What is PACE?

PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) is a healthcare option for seniors whose health issues may affect their independence. This program is a great alternative to nursing home care and gives seniors the support they need to continue living safely in their homes.

WelbeHealth provides PACE in a way that participants and their families often say seems almost “too good to be true.” We are committed to unlocking the full potential of seniors through our courage to love, pioneering spirit and shared intent. The program is funded by the federal government, and WelbeHealth is a licensed PACE provider in the state of California. When you enroll in PACE with WelbeHealth, we provide your care, and are also financially responsible for your care. Essentially, the program is your health care provider and health insurance combined.

Fun Fact: As of June 2021, 139 PACE programs were operating in 30 states, serving nearly 56,000 older Americans.

What does the PACE program do?

Once enrolled in the program, participants get access to preventive, coordinated care. A personalized care plan is tailored to each participant’s unique physical and emotional needs. Most coordinated care is administered at the day center. Here are some of the healthcare services provided by the program:

Transportation

For seniors who no longer drive, transportation can be a hassle and a burden for families. PACE provides transportation from your home to the day center and to medical appointments. Rides are wheelchair accessible and comfortable. In addition to taking you from place to place, the highly trained drivers deliver medication and medical supplies to your home when needed.

Dental, Vision and Hearing

Hearing aids, eyeglasses, and dentures are not always covered by Medicare. Participants of PACE receive these medically necessary items at no cost. As a program participant, you’ll have access to a dentist, mental health specialist, ophthalmologist, and more.

If the PACE care team determines that you need to see a specialist to treat a complex medical condition, they will coordinate the visit. Treatment for COPD, dementia, kidney disease, diabetes, and heart disease are all accessible through the program’s network of specialty physicians. And all the transportation is coordinated for you!

FYI: The average PACE participant has 6 chronic conditions. The PACE team is experienced in caring for seniors who have multiple diagnoses.

Social Engagement

Science has proven that social interaction does wonders for our mental and physical health. That’s why PACE has a team of activity specialists who coordinates social activities. Whether it’s board games at the day center, themed meals, or group exercises, there is always plenty going on at the PACE center.

In-Home Assistance

Upon enrollment, we will do a safety assessment in your home. We’ll look for trip hazards, like cluttered walkways and loose rugs. Next, we will make improvements to your home to make it safer, such as installing wheelchair ramps and grab bars if needed. Educating seniors and their caregivers is an important step in preventing falls.

If your PACE care team determines that it is medically necessary, you may also receive medical care in your home from registered nurses and certified nursing assistants. This may include incontinence care, injections and blood draws, as well as wound care.

Telemedicine

PACE participants gain access to telehealth services. You’ll be given a tablet that allows you to access your care team on-demand. Many participants enjoy the comfort of knowing someone is always available if an emergency should occur. Via telehealth, participants can check in with nurses, track their vitals and medications, and participate in virtual activities.

Medication Management

Over 20 percent of older adults report not taking medication as prescribed due to the high cost of their medication. Did you know cutting pills and skipping doses can actually worsen health conditions? When enrolled, your team of healthcare professionals will make sure you take the right medication at the right time each day, which keeps you healthy and living independently.

Additionally, PACE offers Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. Once you become a program participant, you’ll get your Part D-covered drugs and all other necessary medication from PACE.

Will I have to change my doctor?

Upon enrolling in the program, you’ll begin seeing a doctor at the PACE center. All your healthcare services will be provided by PACE. The doctors and medical staff are highly experienced in caring for seniors with complex medical conditions, so you can trust you’re in good hands.

What are the benefits of PACE?

Interdisciplinary Team

Many parts work together to keep a car running well. Likewise, you need many healthcare providers working together to keep you living well. The PACE interdisciplinary team (IDT) is made up of senior healthcare experts whose top priority is providing you with personalized, coordinated care. They work together, meeting regularly to make sure your needs are met.

The PACE care team consists of:

  • Primary care physician
  • Nurses
  • Physical and occupational therapists
  • Dietitian
  • Social worker
  • Recreational therapist
  • Home care coordinator
  • Transportation professional

Caregiver Support

Because the interdisciplinary team handles all the complicated details of your care, family members and caregivers are relieved from many stressors. Transportation, refilling medications, and coordinating appointments are all done by PACE, significantly reducing caregiver burden. Caregiver training, support groups, and respite care also keep family members supported and educated.

Fast Fact: 97.5 percent of family caregivers would recommend PACE to someone in a similar situation.

What are the PACE eligibility requirements?

Prospective participants must meet the following criteria to be eligible for the PACE program:

  • 55+ years of age
  • Live in the designated service area
  • You are certified by the state as meeting the need for nursing home level of care
  • You can safely live in the community when you join

How much does PACE cost?

What you pay depends on your financial situation.

If you are: Cost (out-of-pocket):
Eligible for Medicaid No cost
Eligible for Medicare and Medicaid No cost
Eligible for Medicare only Pay Medicaid portion, plus monthly premium for Medicare Part D
Not eligible for Medicaid or Medicare Self-pay rate
  • 90 percent are dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare
  • 9 percent are eligible for Medicaid only
  • 1 percent pay a premium

PACE focuses on you and your care.

The goal of PACE is to provide vulnerable seniors in our communities with the care, medical treatment, and support they need to safely live in their homes for as long as possible. Seniors benefit from personalized, coordinated care, as do their caregivers. With many healthcare services and benefits to the program, it’s a good alternative for many seniors who want to safely age in their homes and community. To learn more, contact us today.

 

mHealthIntelligence: California Provider Sees Telehealth as an Integral Part of PACE Programs

WelbeHealth President Matt Patterson says COVID-19 has taught the industry a good lesson on how to use telehealth, and it should be a permanent part of the senior care service.

By Eric Wicklund

 – A California-based healthcare provider is integrating telehealth into its PACE programs, saying the connected health platform improves its ability to provide value-based care for seniors in their own homes.

While the focus of PACE programs has been on in-person care, the coronavirus pandemic prompted many to shift to connected health to maintain contact with their patients. For WelbeHealth, that meant partnering with Grandpad to equip patients with senior-friendly mHealth tablets that allow them to connect with caregivers on-demand and access health and wellness resources online.

“COVID-19 introduced the need for us to pivot to telehealth,” says WelbeHealth President Matt Patterson. “And in the process, we have saved lives.”

WelbeHealth is one of hundreds of providers focused on the senior care market, many of which participate in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) program. Developed by CMS roughly 30 years ago as a capitated model of care for dual-eligible beneficiaries (ninety percent are dual-eligible), it provides all necessary medical care, therapies, long-term care and services, meals, socialization, transportation, day center services, and activities.

There are currently 135 PACE programs in 31 states, enrolling between 50 and 3,000 patients, for a total of more than 54,000 seniors served. The programs are based in a care center and feature an interdisciplinary care team (IDT) of primary care physicians, nurses, therapists, social workers, dieticians, home care professionals, and others and offers a variety of services on-site and in the home.

PACE programs have traditionally shied away from telehealth, but COVID-19 changed that line of thinking. Now Patterson and his team are at the forefront of a new wave of care providers who want to make telehealth an integral part of the program.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to extend the reach of PACE (and) do more to improve and enrich the lives of our participants,” says Patterson, a former naval surgeon who served as president of digital health pioneer AirStrip before moving into the senior care space.

Telehealth gives PACE programs with WelbeHealth’s the ability to be there for seniors at any time, and to address issues that might not be addressed during in-person visits. That’s important at a time when, mostly due to COVID-19 restrictions, seniors are experiencing high rates of depression, anxiety, stress and substance abuse.

That point has been proven in the Grandpad project. According to a case study, seniors in the WelbeHealth program logged nearly 34,000 hours on the tablets – using both synchronous and asynchronous services – between March of 2020 and March of 2021, including more than 1,500 hours accessing mental health treatment. They also used the tablets to access medical care and exercises aimed at treating cognitive decline.

Patterson says emergency measures adopted by both state and federal governments during the COVID-19 public health emergency have enabled PACE programs to use telehealth more freely. He and his company have been lobbying state officials to make those freedoms permanent.

On the federal level, a bill introduced in March and now before Congress would ensure permanent coverage for audio-only telehealth services for Medicare Advantage and PACE programs, giving providers like WelbeHealth the freedom to incorporate phone calls and non-video telehealth platforms into care plans.

The benefits of connected care are numerous. On-demand access to care providers means seniors can go about their day knowing there’s someone always available should an emergency occur. They have instant access to health and wellness resources that go beyond what they’re getting when the nurse comes by for a visit. They can also collaborate more often on medication management, keep track of daily vital signs, or just talk to someone if they’re lonely or depressed.

Patterson says the pandemic is giving WelbeHealth and others the time to prove the value of connected health and to gather data and experiences to support permanent coverage.

That will be important. CMS has traditionally been very reluctant to expand telehealth coverage and has long argued that it needs evidence that these tools and platforms improve clinical outcomes and reduce wasteful expenses and unnecessary treatments. In short, they want proof.

“PACE is an ideal model for integrating high-touch and virtual care,” Patterson counters. And he wants to do more of that.

“Telehealth is definitely not a replacement (for in-person care), but it gives us more tools, and we want to use these tools for what our participants desire,” he says. “As an organization, we only do well when our participants do well. And they’re doing well.”

 

Click on the logo to view the article.

 

KSEE 24: WelbeHealth PACE in Fresno vaccinates 500th person against COVID-19

Home-based eldercare startup acts as community vaccinator to protect locals.

March 18, 2021 (KSEE) – The team at WelbeHealth PACE in Fresno celebrated on Thursday as they administered the 500th COVID-19 vaccine to a member of the Fresno community. 

“I feel good, I feel great. The staff is great too… I will recommend it to anybody,” said Samuel Sousa, their 500th person to be vaccinated.

“We sit kind of in the heart of a lot of the underserved population when it comes to the senior population, so we’re a perfect location for them to come in.”

WelbeHealth has worked hard to reach out to the public by vaccinating communities in all 4 of its locations, frequently offering to help people reach the site. It was among the first PACE operators in the nation to receive COVID-19 vaccines in 2020.

“We’re unique in the sense that we provide transportation. So anybody that is 55 years and older that isn’t able to get a vaccination, they can actually call us, and we’ll go pick them up,” said Nicole Butler, Director of Center Operations for WelbeHealth.

WelbeHealth partnered with Fresno County to serve as a community vaccination site at the start of 2021, with appointments filling up and long lines forming as people waited patiently for the jab.

“And we sit kind of in the heart of a lot of the underserved population when it comes to the senior population, so we’re a perfect location for them to come in,” said Butler.

 

Click on the logo to view the story.

Why We Support California Assembly Bill (AB) 523: Because Lifting Regulatory Bottlenecks Saved Lives During Covid-19 Crisis

Why Assembly Bill 540 Must Pass: Because seniors have a right to know about the PACE option for home and community based care

WelbeHealth Administers First Shipment of COVID-19 Vaccines

LONG BEACH Dec. 31, 2020 – WelbeHealth is administering its first COVID-19 vaccines to its elderly participants this week, beginning at the organization’s center in Long Beach, California. The first seniors received their vaccinations on Wednesday, and additional vaccines will be administered next week.

WelbeHealth, a healthcare provider delivering integrated home-based care for frail seniors across California, received its first shipment of the vaccine earlier this week and rapidly deployed its plan to administer the injections to its highest-risk participants.

“This is a momentous occasion for our programs and our society. It’s essential that we all get vaccinated, not only for ourselves but for the safety and wellbeing of everyone in our communities,” said WelbeHealth President Matt Patterson, MD. “With each vaccine, we are literally saving the lives of our elders who have given so much to enrich our world.”

WelbeHealth provides care as part of PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly), a longstanding Medicare and Medicaid program that enables older adults to live in the community instead of a nursing home.

At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, WelbeHealth shifted to a remote home-based care model, providing each participant with an internet-connected WelbeLink computer tablet and delivering care in the home whenever possible. The program has a long track record of positive outcomes, including longer life expectancy and dramatically improved mental health and quality of life. The PACE model has proven dramatically safer for seniors during the pandemic, with 85-95 percent lower infection and mortality rates than nursing homes.

 

 

Vision Exam Month

August is National Vision Exam Month.  Healthy vision is important for people of all ages and is key for seniors to be able to live more independent lives in their homes and communities.  Here are some tips from the CDC on how to keep your eyes healthy.

Try 6 Tips for Healthy Eyes—and a Healthy You

  1. Add more movement to your day. Physical activity can lower your risk for health conditions that can affect your vision, like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. As a bonus, it can help you feel your best. Pick activities you enjoy and remember, anything that gets your heart beating faster counts!
  2. Get your family talking… about eye health history. Some eye diseases—like glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration—can run in families. Although it may not be the most exciting topic of conversation, talking about your family health history can help everyone stay healthy. Ask your relatives if they know about any eye problems in your family. Be sure to share what you learn with your eye doctor to see if you need to take steps to lower your risk.
  3. Step up your healthy eating game. Eating healthy foods helps prevent health conditions—like type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure—that can put you at risk for eye problems. Eat dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens that are high in antioxidants called lutein and zeaxanthin, which help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. Also pick up some fish high in omega-3 fatty acids like halibut, salmon, and tuna.
  4. Stay on top of long-term health conditions—like diabetes and high blood pressure. Diabetes and high blood pressure can increase your risk for some eye diseases, like glaucoma. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, ask your doctor about steps you can take to manage your condition and lower your risk of vision loss.
  5. If you smoke, make a quit plan. Quitting smoking is good for almost every part of your body, including your eyes! That’s right—kicking the habit will help lower your risk for eye diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts. Quitting smoking is hard, but it’s possible—and a quit plan can help. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free support.
  6. Give your eyes a rest. Looking at a computer for a long time can tire out your eyes. Follow the 20-20-20 rule—rest your eyes by taking a break every 20 minutes to look at something about 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Regular vision exams are part of the comprehensive services provided by PACE.  For more about PACE services, click here.

Free photo 5904867 © Nedim Jukić – Dreamstime.com

Welbe’s Long Beach PACE Center Launches

The Long Beach Press Telegram covered the launch of our newest PACE center in Long Beach – LA Coast PACE:

LONG BEACH

By Gary Metzker

The golden years aren’t so golden for many these days, as the coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of abating.

At least 38,000 U.S. residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities for older adults have died from the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control. More than 142,000 people at those facilities have contracted the virus, and at least 90,000 more cases are suspected.

In California, there have been more than 2,400 deaths in long-term care facilities, and according to the Long Beach Health and Human Services Department, 118 deaths have been associated with long-term care facilities in the city.

Many families are not aware that there are other alternatives besides skilled nursing or assisted living facilities, especially during this health crisis.

WelbeHealth is an operator of Medicaid’s Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) across California. Its newest facility is in Long Beach at 1220 E. Fourth St., but because of the coronavirus pandemic, no one is visiting the location. Instead, the company has transitioned to a remote, at-home care model to serve seniors while keeping them physically shielded from the spread of the virus.

According to Sophia Guel-Valenzuela, regional vice president and executive director of the Long Beach facility, having seniors in a PACE program is a safer alternative because it can provide necessities, meal deliveries throughout the day, assistance in the home and meaningful social engagement.

“There has never been a stronger imperative to keep seniors living more independently in their homes and communities,” she said. “Our goal is to keep seniors socially engaged through games and special events. It’s important to keep people safe.”

Guel-Valenzuela said each client gets a 4G LTE tablet to use that enables them to talk to a doctor or a social worker as well as interacting with other people.

“The highlight of my week is to see the engagement going on,” she said. “Engagement coordinators host trivia games, bingo, card games. It’s like a big Zoom meeting.”

Guel-Valenzuela believes the combination of staying at home with interactivity is the template of the future for senior care.

“It’s safer to stay at home now,” she said. “I’ve been doing this for 18 years and this model of coordinated care is something I believe in.”

PACE provides comprehensive medical and social services enabling older adults to live in the community instead of a nursing home or other care facility. Its services are available at no cost to most participants as part of their Medicare and MediCal benefits.

“In our HomePACE model of remote care, we help seniors stay healthy and thriving while avoiding nursing facilities, which have tragically become hotbeds for the spread of coronavirus,” said Dr. Si France, founder and CEO of WelbeHealth in a statement. “We’re excited to expand our all-inclusive model of care into greater Long Beach to serve more vulnerable seniors when they need it most.”

WelbeHealth’s Long Beach location is accepting applications. Families can call 1-800-734-8041.

To learn more about PACE and services we provide, click here.

Spectrum 1 News: PACE Offers Alternative to Assisted Living Facilities

Spectrum News 1 aired a news story highlighting how PACE offers an alternative to assisted living facilities and nursing homes for seniors.  The story featured our new Long Beach facility – LA Coast PACE and discuss how we have changed the model to deliver many of the health and long-term care services to the participants home via technology.  Also included in the story was an interview with one of our participants, Bernadette McCoy, who was drawn to the program because it helped keep her living independently in her home and because it was covered under Medicare and Medicaid.  Click here to view the story in its entirety.

To learn more about the services PACE provides, click here.