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

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.

Tips to Stay Safe During Heatwaves

We are getting well into the summer months which means, hotter temperatures.  We’ve already seen a couple of heat waves come through California summer is officially only a few weeks old!  In addition to the heat, power outages can occur during these high-temperature periods.

Please take measures to stay cool and remain hydrated. Getting too hot can make you sick. You can become ill from the heat if your body can’t compensate for it and properly cool you off. As we age our bodies cannot handle the heat like they did when we were young.  Extreme heat can affect us in the following ways: The main things affecting your body’s ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather are:

  • High humidity. When the humidity is high, sweat won’t evaporate as quickly. This keeps your body from releasing heat as fast as it may need to. High humidity can cause you to sweat excessively which can lead to dehydration.  When your sweat does not evaporate quickly it can lead to feeling overly tired.
  • Personal factors. Age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use all can play a role in whether a person can cool off enough in very hot weather. Other factors that can play a role in adverse effects of heat would include fever, medical conditions, poor circulation, certain prescription drug and use of alcohol.
  • Muscle cramping may be an early sign of heat-related illness.

You are potentially at the highest risk for heat-related illness during these heatwaves. When it becomes hot outside, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you drinking enough water?
  • Do you have access to air conditioning?
  • Do you need help keeping cool?

You can take the following protective actions to prevent illness or death:

  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as you can. Air-conditioning is the number one way to protect yourself against heat-related illness or complications.
  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
  • Try not to use the stove or oven to cook—it will make you and your house hotter.
  • Try cool showers or baths to help you cool down.

Try to avoid going out in the hot sun, but If you need to go outside during hot weather:

  • Limit your outdoor activity, especially when the sun is hottest.
  • Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package.
  • Pace your activity, start activities slow and pick up the pace gradually.
  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Be careful in the sun to avoid sunburn. If you can see through your clothing you can get sunburned through them.

For additional tips from the CDC on keeping cool, click here.

To learn more about the services provided by our PACE program, 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.

Benefits of Pets for Seniors

June 26th is Take Your Dog to Work Day!  Per the CDC, there are many health benefits of owning a dog or pet, including helping seniors live more independent lives in their homes and communities. They can increase opportunities to exercise, get outside, and socialize. Regular walking or playing with pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels. Pets can help manage loneliness and depression by giving us companionship. Most households in the United States have at least one pet.

Studies have shown that the bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners. Some of the health benefits of having a pet include:

  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Decreased cholesterol levels
  • Decreased triglyceride levels
  • Decreased feelings of loneliness
  • Increased opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities
  • Increased opportunities for socialization

WelbeHealth recognizes these benefits, which is why it was important to us to rescue our participant’s dog last year.  Click here for the story and link to video.

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

Exercise Benefits for Seniors from the CDC

May 27th is National Senior Health & Fitness Day.  We’re posting the guidelines from the CDC to help seniors understand the benefits of exercise.

Making Physical Activity a Part of an Older Adult’s Life

When it comes to getting the physical activity you need each week, it’s important to pick activities you enjoy and that match your abilities. This will help ensure that you stick with them.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • Physical activity has immediate health benefits including better sleep and less anxiety. It also helps reduce your risk of getting serious illnesses such as heart disease, type II diabetes, and depression.
  • Try to do a variety of activities. This can make physical activity more enjoyable and reduce your risk of injury.
  • Regular physical activity is still safe and good for you even if you have problems doing normal daily activities, such as climbing stairs or walking.
  • Lots of things count. And it all adds up. Find what works for you.
  • If you have to take a break from your regular activity routine due to an illness, be sure to start again at a lower level and slowly work back up to your usual level of activity.
  • To get to and stay at a healthy weight, work your way up to doing the equivalent of 150 minutes (for example, 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. Keep in mind that you may need to do more activity or reduce the number of calories you eat to get to your desired weight.

Learn more about everyday activities you can do to stay active.

Multicomponent Physical Activity

A senior woman walking with her dog

As part of their weekly physical activity, older adults should do multicomponent physical activity to improve physical function and decrease the risk of falls or injury from a fall. This includes balance training, aerobic activity, and muscle-strengthening activities. An example of a multicomponent physical activity program could include walking (aerobic activity), lifting weights (muscle strengthening), and incorporating balance by walking backwards or sideways or by standing on one foot. These activities can be done at home or in a structured group setting.

Improving Your Balance

Older adults should do activities that help them with balance. Balance activities can improve the ability to resist forces within or outside of the body that cause falls. Fall prevention programs that include balance training and other exercises to improve activities of daily living can also significantly reduce the risk of injury, such as bone fractures, if a fall does occur. These activities might include backward walking, sideways walking, heel walking, toe walking, heel to toe walking, practicing standing from a sitting position, and alternating balancing on one leg and then the other with a counter or wall nearby. Strengthening muscles of the back, abdomen, and legs also improves balance.

What if you have a chronic condition?

If you have a health condition such as arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease, it doesn’t mean you can’t be active. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Regular physical activity can improve your quality of life and even reduce your risk of developing other conditions.

Talk with your doctor to find out if your health condition limits, in any way, your ability to be active. Then, work with your doctor to come up with a physical activity plan that matches your abilities. If your condition stops you from meeting the minimum recommended activity levels, try to do as much as you can. What’s important is that you avoid being inactive.

What if you have a disability?

If you are an older adult with a disability, regular physical activity can provide you with important health benefits, like a stronger heart, lungs, and muscles; improved brain health; and a better ability to do everyday tasks. It’s best to talk with your doctor before you begin a physical activity routine. Try to get advice from a professional with experience in physical activity and disability. They can tell you more about the amounts and types of physical activity that are appropriate for you and your abilities.

If you are looking for additional information, visit The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability.

When to Check with Your Doctor

Doing physical activity that requires moderate effort is safe for most people, but if you have a health condition such as heart disease, arthritis, or diabetes, be sure to talk with your doctor about the types and amounts of physical activity that are right for you. Also, if you have been inactive, are not too fit, or are overweight, and want to do vigorous-intensity physical activity, such as jogging, it is safest to discuss this with your doctor.

To learn more about services such as exercise programs that are part of the PACE program, click here.

Senior Isolation – Interview with Debbie Sanchez

Radio Centro America conducted an interview with our own Debbie Sanchez, an Outreach Specialist for our Pacific PACE program in Pasadena.  She discussed the challenges of senior isolation during this global coronavirus pandemic and how WelbeHealth and Pacific PACE have made changes to safely deliver the health and wellness senior care to frail elderly in our service areas, allowing them to continue living more independent lives in their homes and communities.  Click here to watch the interview in Spanish.

For more about the services that PACE provides to help promote senior independence, click here.

How to properly wash your hands

The CDC has provided guidance on how to properly wash your hands.  During the current coronavirus pandemic, knowing the proper technique has never been more important.

Key Times to Wash Hands

You can help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage

During the COVID-19 pandemic, you should also clean hands:

  • After you have been in a public place and touched an item or surface that may be frequently touched by other people, such as door handles, tables, gas pumps, shopping carts, or electronic cashier registers/screens, etc.
  • Before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth because that’s how germs enter our bodies.

Follow Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way

Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community—from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals.

Follow these five steps every time.

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Our own Nurse Cheryl demonstrates these techniques in the video below:

To see what PACE services we provide to safely keeping seniors living in their homes and communities, click here.

WelbeHealth Expands PACE into Long Beach and Fresno

WelbeHealth, operator of PACE programs across California, announced the enrollment of its first participants at LA Coast PACE in Long Beach and the upcoming launch of its fourth program, Sequoia PACE, in Fresno. The company has rapidly shifted to a remote home care model to serve seniors safely during the Covid-19 pandemic and continues to enroll new participants in its service areas across California.

PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) is a longstanding Medicare and Medicaid program that provides comprehensive medical and social services enabling older adults to live in the community instead of a nursing home or other care facility. The program has a long track record of positive outcomes, including longer life expectancy (by more than one year), improved quality of life, reduced rates of depression and dementia, and enhanced personal empowerment for seniors. PACE services are available at no cost to most participants as part of their Medicare and Medi-Cal 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 Si France, MD, Founder and CEO of WelbeHealth. “We’re excited to expand our all-inclusive model of care into the greater Long Beach and Fresno regions to serve more vulnerable seniors when they need it most.”

LA Coast PACE’s first participants will enroll with the program on June 1, receiving comprehensive home-based medical care, dental care, physical and occupational therapy, and personal care such as assistance with bathing and meals. The program serves nursing home-eligible seniors across the South Bay and Westside region, including in Long Beach, Artesia, Cerritos, Carson, Torrance, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, El Segundo, Culver City, and other nearby communities.

Sequoia PACE, WelbeHealth’s fourth PACE program, will open later this year to serve seniors in Fresno, Kings, Madera, and Tulare Counties, including in Fresno, Clovis, Madera, Hanford, Tulare, and surrounding cities.

“There has never been a stronger imperative to keep frail seniors living more independently in their homes and communities,” said Sophia Guel-Valenzuela, Regional Vice President & Executive Director of LA Coast PACE. “We’re eager to help more seniors reach their full potential and live with confidence, purpose, and joy.”

WelbeHealth has rapidly adapted to serve seniors during the Covid-19 pandemic, shifting to a remote home-based model to continue providing care while enabling participants to stay physically distanced to reduce the spread of the virus. The company’s PACE programs provide 4G LTE “WelbeLink” tablets to each senior, enabling regular video communications to manage medical and social needs. When in-person care is required, it’s performed by a single caregiver in the home whenever possible. The programs have even continued many of their usual games and recreational activities remotely, combatting the dangerous social isolation affecting many seniors today.

Older adults and people with underlying medical conditions are at particularly high risk during the coronavirus pandemic, underscoring the benefits of a home-based care model. According to the National PACE Association, the average PACE participant in the U.S. is 77 years old with 8 medical conditions, many of which are chronic conditions such as diabetes, dementia, coronary artery disease, and cerebrovascular disease. PACE serves as an alternative to nursing homes as reports emerge that nearly 40 percent of California’s coronavirus deaths have occurred in the facilities.

In addition to LA Coast PACE and Sequoia PACE, WelbeHealth also operates Stockton PACE in the Stockton-Modesto region and Pacific PACE, which serves Pasadena, Glendale, Burbank, North Hollywood, and surrounding areas. The company continues to hire new team members at each of its programs across clinical and home health roles to meet community health needs.

For more about the seniorcare services that our PACE program provides, click here.