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Supporting the Mental Health of Seniors

Health care doesn’t just include care for the physical body; it includes care for the mind too. Solely focusing on physical health and disregarding the mental health of seniors can reduce their quality of life. WelbeHealth recognizes this. As a PACE provider (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly), WelbeHealth addresses all aspects of wellness to keep seniors living safely in their community.

An estimated 20 percent of Americans over age 55 have a mental health disorder. Unfortunately, only three percent of those individuals seek out mental health services. WelbeHealth supports the mental health of seniors through a collaborative, gentle approach to improve well-being and health outcomes.

1.   Building Trust

Rona Lomeda is a Complex Case Nurse for WelbeHealth. Her 30 years of experience in behavioral health and geriatric care have shown her the key to successfully treating the mental health of seniors is trust.

Lomeda says, “The most important thing we do is make sure our seniors feel loved. That’s what develops trust in the relationship. Ultimately, that’s how we provide the best care to seniors struggling with mental illnesses.”

WelbeHealth also builds trust by being available 24/7. Whether participants are at the day center, in their home, or on the road, WelbeHealth is just a call away. Staying in close communication with seniors lets them know that they always have someone they can lean on in times of fear, confusion, or loneliness.

2.   Nurturing Companionship Among Peers

Over 40 percent of seniors report feeling lonely on a daily basis. And, studies have shown that loneliness can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. That’s why WelbeHealth helps provide companionship for all participants, especially those with mental illness.

WelbeHealth participants find companionship through:

  • Coming to the day center
  • Eating meals with other participants
  • Engaging in center activities that interest them
  • Visiting with caring staff members
  • Calling the WelbeHealth team via phone or tablet
  • Visiting with drivers and other participants during transportation rides

3.   Providing Individual Care and Education

Untreated mental illness can have a domino effect on other areas of health. For example, a senior who is severely depressed may not feel like taking their diabetes medication, which can harm other areas of their body.

To help solve this, WelbeHealth provides individualized care and education.

Lomeda says, “If a patient has trouble taking daily pills, we consider administering their medicine through injection once a week. These kinds of adjustments can make all the difference in the health of the participant. Once we have trust built, we can educate them on the importance of taking their medication and find the best ways to administer it for them.”

Professional therapists are also available to support the mental health of seniors at WelbeHealth. Therapy sessions are done in person or via telemedicine when needed. Visiting with a therapist regularly can help older adults work through feelings of grief, accept a challenging health diagnosis, and support them in overcoming anxious thoughts and feelings.

“We try to connect seniors to therapy instead of prescribing medication right away,” says Lomeda.

4.   Giving Relief to Caregivers

Some WelbeHealth participants live alone. Others live with a caregiver, such as a spouse or adult child. Being a caregiver can be exhausting, especially if your loved one has a mental illness. WelbeHealth makes it a priority to provide support to caregivers, so they can best care for their loved one.

Caregivers of WelbeHealth participants benefit from:

  • Respite care
  • Education
  • Transportation for their loved one
  • Support groups
  • Home care assistance

Supporting the mental health of seniors is just one way WelbeHealth helps older adults and their families. WelbeHealth provides primary care, physical and occupational therapy, dental care, vision care, and more. Visit our FAQ page or contact us for further information.

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.

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.

Memorial Day 2020 Park Safety Tips

Memorial Day 2020 will be very unique this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, which should be no surprise to anyone.  Various local governments are opening up parks and recreational facilities to varying degrees and many seniors will be out and about enjoying the holiday.  The CDC has provided guidelines for attending parks and recreational facilities.  To help our seniors continue to safely live more independent lives in their homes and communities and as a resource to combat senior isolation, we are providing those guidelines here.

Visiting Parks and Recreational Facilities

Protect Yourself and Others from COVID-19

Know before you go: While these facilities and areas can offer health benefits, it is important that you follow the steps below to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

DO

  •  Visit parks that are close to your home
  •  Prepare before you visit
  •  Stay at least 6 feet away from others (“social distancing”) and take other steps to prevent COVID-19
  •  Play it safe around and in swimming pools. Keep space between yourself and others
DON’T
  •  Visit parks if you are sick or were recently exposed to COVID-19
  •  Visit crowded parks
  •  Use playgrounds
  •  Participate in organized activities or sports

To learn about the services our PACE program provides, 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.

Addressing Senior Isolation: Radio Interview

Combating senior isolation and loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic and what WelbeHealth has done to combat this issue was the topic that Jillian Simon and Kristi Halva discussed this weekend in a radio interview.  The importance of combating senior isolation has become a growing issue during this time as the CDC recently reported on the links between isolation and disease on the senior population.  The steps we took not only helped provide a conduit for seniors to socialize with our staff and find entertaining ways to keep busy, but also allowed our staff to be able to provide the services our seniors needed to stay healthy and independently in a remote setting.

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

Separation anxiety: Coronavirus takes toll on those with Alzheimer’s, their loved ones

Alzheimer’s is a tough disease to contend with in the normal, everyday world.  Some of the individuals suffering more than most during this time of crisis are those challenged with some form of dementia, especially those with Alzheimer’s.  In our transition to a home-based model, we have taken steps to ensure that these individuals and their loved ones continue to get our support.  The Record recently wrote a story on this topic here, and our own Executive Director Jillian Simon commented on how our changes provided continued support to this group.

To learn more about PACE services, click here.

New York Times: Just What Older People Didn’t Need: More Isolation

Isolation is a high-priority issue with seniors. 

The New York Times just printed an article highlighting this issue and how senior groups are tackling it through technology.  Although we were not named specifically in the article, it refers to two PACE programs in Southern California that have utilized Grandpads, which we call “WelbeLinks” to combat loneliness and increase their ability to socialize. To learn more about our PACE services, click here.

 

 

 

Click on the logo to read the full story.

 

 

Entrepreneur.com: How This Mission-Driven Change Agent Is Disrupting Healthcare

A doctor and entrepreneur shares how his team is changing eldercare.

Entrepreneur

– WelbeHealth Founder and CEO, Si France, MD was interviewed by Entrepreneur.com’s Jessica Abo about what motivated him to pave his own path to entrepreneurship.
Health Care Capitalist or Mission-Driven Change Agent? Check out what he has to say about pivoting from the success of the business-model-based GoHealth Urgent Care,  to something that was a force for good:
“I wanted to go create this organization where people weren’t resources in some kind of capitalist plan. We cared about people.”
With a focus on elder care, Si went on to create WelbeHealth, an operator of the Medicaid/Medicare PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly).
PACE serves low-income, Medicaid/Medicare eligible, frail seniors by providing 11-person integrated care teams to each participant so that they can live independently in their own homes and communities while having full access to medical and dental care, meals, transportation, medication management, home health aides, adult day programs, and more. Teams who operate PACE, like Welbe, report an 80% average drop in depression rates after enrollment.
During COVID-19 it saved lives and its rapid response to the pandemic has been featured as a case study in the rapid deployment of telehealth during the lockdown, while still emphasizing the absolute importance of high-touch, in-person care.

Click on the logo to read the full story.