Tag Archive for: independent seniors

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.

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.

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!

Medi-cal changes for California seniors

Medi-Cal Changes for California Seniors

New and expanded Medi-Cal eligiblity criteria in 2022 will allow more people to access Medi-Cal coverage. Medi-Cal changes for California seniors offer many a new chance to qualify for Medi-Cal. Read on to learn more about these changes, which for some seniors could include becoming eligible for WelbeHealth or other PACE programs in your area.

For more detailed information, see the resources listed at the bottom of the article.

  • Expanded Coverage for Undocumented Seniors
    Beginning in May 2022, Medi-Cal benefits will be provided to all individuals over the age of 50 who meet financial eligibility requirements, regardless of immigration status. This includes primary, specialty, behavioral health, long-term care, and much more. Those not currently enrolled in restricted scope Medi-Cal will need to apply to find out if they meet eligibility requirements.
  • Increased Asset Limits
    In July of 2022, the asset limit will increase for many Medi-Cal programs from $2,000 to $130,000 for individuals (plus $65,000 for each additional family member). Once this change is in effect, DHCS will send letters to those who were denied Medi-Cal or terminated coverage for being over the asset limit during the 90 days before the effective date of the change.

How this may affect you: If you were previously denied Medi-Cal enrollment due to immigration status or assets, you may want to consider re-applying.

 

Changes to Medi-Cal Managed Care in 2022 and 2023

The California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM) initiative standardizes managed care enrollment and benefits, addresses social determinants of health, and reduces inequities. As part of the CalAIM initiative, some health coverage changes will impact Medi-Cal enrollees across all of California. Other changes only impact certain populations or enrollees in certain counties.

How this may affect you: The way you receive Medi-Cal benefits through your managed care plan may be changing, including the health plan you are enrolled in or the services available through your current Medi-Cal managed care plan.

  • Changes for Dual-eligible, Medi-Cal and Medicare Individuals
    Starting January 2023, dual-eligible individuals will be required to enroll in a Medi-Cal managed care plan. If you are eligible for both Medicare and Medi-Cal, you will receive enrollment forms to choose the plan you want to enroll in. PACE programs such as WelbeHealth will be listed as an option on these enrollment forms. This is a great time to consider participating in WelbeHealth’s PACE services if you are eligible and live in one of our service areas.
  • Changes for those with a Medi-Cal share of cost
    As part of CalAIM, some Medi-Cal beneficiaries* with a share of cost are moving out of managed care, into fee-for-service Medi-Cal. If you have been on a Medi-Cal plan that has a share of cost, you will automatically be enrolled in fee-for-service Medi-Cal unless you live in a long-term care facility. This change affects those enrolled in both Medi-Cal and Medicare and those enrolled in Medi-Cal only.If you were previously enrolled in a Cal MediConnect plan, you will be disenrolled from Cal MediConnect. You will need to select a new Part D prescription plan to cover prescription drugs.Note that under fee-for-service Medi-Cal, there may be some changes to how transportation is made available to you. DHCS’s Transportation Services web page provides instructions on how you can get transportation under fee-for-service.
  • Managed Care Enrollment for Certain Populations
    Certain population groups who are required to enroll in a Medi-Cal managed care plan are expanding statewide. If you are part of one of these special groups, you would have received two notices in the Fall of 2021. You can make a managed care selection or be added to a state-selected managed care plan.
  • End of MediConnect Plans in December
    As of December 31, 2022, if you are enrolled in a Cal MediConnect plan, you will automatically move to a dual special needs plans operated by the parent organization of your Cal MediConnect plan. If you have questions or would like to select a different health plan (including PACE), contact the Health Consumer Alliance (HCA) at 1-888-804-3536. The HCA can assist Californians who are trying to get or keep their health coverage.

 

Could you now be eligible for PACE?

WelbeHealth’s PACE provides all-inclusive coordinated care. Visit welbehealth.com for information about our services.

You may have questions about these Medi-Cal changes for California seniors. At WelbeHealth we have experts available to assist you in evaluating whether you qualify for Medi-Cal. Call us at (888) 530-4415, TTY (800) 735-2922 to learn more.

 

References and Resources:

*Some changes only affect individuals residing in a CCI county (Los Angeles, San Bernadino, Riverside, Orange County, San Diego, Santa Clara, and San Mateo) or a COHS county (Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Marin, Mendocino, Merced, Modoc, Monterey, Napa, Orange, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Trinity, Ventura, and Yolo).

Nurse coordinator

Care Coordination for Seniors

Seniors with complex medical conditions often need help managing their care. They see multiple doctors and specialists. They’re taking multiple medications, have several medical appointments a month, and may need assistance in their home. Professional care coordination for seniors can help manage a senior’s health care.

Research shows that 35 percent of those over age 65 have no one assisting them with coordinating their care. Thirty-four percent say a family member coordinates their care.

Care coordination can be beneficial for seniors and caregivers, especially for the 85 percent of older adults who live with one or more complex medical conditions.

What is care coordination?

Seniors, or their spouse or adult child, often do the work of coordinating their care. They make appointments, provide transportation, communicate with physicians, and assist in the home.

Professional care coordination for seniors is more in-depth and comprehensive. It involves multiple medical experts who specialize in the health of the elderly. The team helps the senior meet their medical needs, provides the needed resources, and updates the care team. Care coordination is personalized and uses the input of the patient and caregiver.

The benefits of care coordination for seniors and their families

  • Doctors stay informed. Living with a complex medical condition often means having more than one doctor who provides your care. One goal of care coordination is to keep all healthcare providers informed. This saves the patient from redundant testing, screening, and treatment. Changes in medication, new or worsening symptoms, and changes in medical history are all topics to be shared among your team of physicians.
  • Better healthcare outcomes. Studies have shown that professional care coordination results in better health outcomes. Patients are often more satisfied with the quality of care because it is personalized and streamlined.
  • Social and emotional needs met. Care coordination focuses on the patient’s physical, social and emotional health. Healthcare professionals connect the patient to resources such as counseling and support groups and promote wellness of the mind.
  • Relief for caregivers. Family members often take on coordinating care for their aging loved one. As their loved one’s condition grows more complex, it can be a lot to manage. Professional care coordination for seniors relieves caregivers of doing this, while keeping them informed. Therefore, they have more time to work, rest, or tend to their own health needs.

WelbeHealth provides care coordination for seniors with complex medical conditions.

WelbeHealth’s program of all-inclusive care for the elderly (PACE)  provides professional coordinated care to seniors.

Interdisciplinary Team

At the heart of WelbeHealth’s PACE is the interdisciplinary team. This team stays current on each senior in their care, and adjusts care as needed. Each team member specializes in caring for seniors with complex medical conditions. The team includes specialists such as:

  • Primary care physician
  • Nurse
  • Physical therapist
  • Occupational therapist
  • Recreation therapist
  • Dietician
  • Social worker
  • Home care coordinator
  • Transportation professional

Day Center

WelbeHealth’s day centers make providing coordinated care seamless. In the day center, seniors can get many physical needs met and socialize with other participants. Under one roof, participants can receive:

  • Primary care
  • Dental, vision, and hearing care
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Recreational therapy
  • Nutritious meals and socializing with other seniors and staff
  • Exercise
  • Personal care (bathing, grooming, etc.)

Telehealth and Home Care

Professional care coordination for seniors often involves home care. Seniors sometimes need help with housekeeping and personal care. WelbeHealth coordinates that care when it is medically necessary.

Telehealth can help keep seniors connected with healthcare professionals 24/7. This accessibility can help give peace of mind to seniors and their caregivers.

Coordinated Care is Impactful for Seniors.

Coordinated care is impactful for seniors with complex medical conditions. WelbeHealth provides personalized, coordinated care, keeping seniors living well, at home.

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.

Medi-cal changes for California seniors

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.”

 

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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.

 

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