Contributor: Rosalyn Neranartkomol AfM.Sc. in Gerontology
6th Year Medical Student
Origin/affiliation: Medical University of Silesia in Poland
United States of America
When I was working on my gerontology degree in the United States, I was introduced to the Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), which is an alternate to nursing home care. In the 1970’s the United States’ government started searching for community-based services; therefore, it created a waiver program so that states can experiment with programs geared towards frail elders and disabled beneficiaries. Considering these developments, San Francisco’s On Lok Senior Health services developed the PACE program.
What is the PACE program?
The PACE program is based on the holistic care of elders mainly based within a senior center setting, but still with in-home services and other services as needed. PACE is also unique in that the interdisciplinary care team consists of dentistry, emergency services, home care, hospital care, laboratory/x-ray services, meals, medical specialty services, nursing home care, nutritional counseling, occupational therapy, physical therapy, prescription drugs, primary care (including doctors and nursing services), recreational therapy, social services, social work counseling, transportation. I believe that this type of care approach greatly helps both the senior to stay in their home for longer as well as help the adult children take care of their frail parents without having to take them out of their community and their social surrounding.
These pandemic years that have filled the lives of seniors with anxiety and isolation highlights the role that social connection and community play in staying healthy and vibrant. The rampant outbreaks in nursing home settings causes me to re-evaluate and re-think the way we look after our elders. The senior center activities at On Lok Senior Health have moved to virtual events so that seniors can isolate safely at home with their loved ones, which I think is better than isolating at a nursing home away from family during this trying times. I do not know what the future hold for all of us and how the care of seniors will evolve, but I hope we can find more alternatives and constantly improve for the sake of both our loved ones and ourselves.