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A change of pace in healthcare PHOTO COURTESY OF INOVACARES FOR SENIORS.
By Barbara Ruben Although Frank Gold suffered from polio as a child, it didn’t stop him from becoming a paratrooper in the Pacific during World War II. A stroke a couple years ago slowed his gait and slurred his speech. But like the determined, independent young man he was in the 1940s, Gold, now 89, can’t imagine moving into a nursing home. Instead, he lives with his daughter in Burke, Va., and joined InovaCares for Seniors’ PACE program. PACE, which stands for Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly, is designed to offer a home-based alternative to nursing homes for older adults who need skilled nursing care. The comprehensive program, affiliated with the Inova Health System, offers an adult day program every weekday in Fairfax, Va., with one-stop shopping for healthcare services. The center is staffed with a doctor, nurse, and physical and occupational therapists, and transportation is provided to the offices of specialists affiliated with Inova. Two meals a day are provided, along with social and recreational activities. When participants go home at day’s end, additional homecare, if needed, is also available. PACE manages the participants’ prescriptions, provides transportation to and from the center, and offers respite care services for family caregivers. “All the staff collaborate to keep people living at home as long as possible,” said Rose Mario, manager of marketing and business development for the program. “Do they need help bathing? Are they going to need food on the weekend? Do their caregivers need a break? These are all things we look at,” Mario said. “There is no other model of care in Northern Virginia like this.” In fact, while there are 90 similar PACE programs across the country, there are no others in the entire Washington metro area, and none are planned in the near future, according to the National PACE Association. The closest one is located in Baltimore, affiliated with the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. The Northern Virginia program opened in 2012 and has 51 participants, with room for about 25 more.
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ARTS & STYLE
Oscar Fritz reaches to catch a ball during a session with a physical therapist at the InovaCares for Seniors’ PACE program. Based in Fairfax, the program is one of 90 PACE programs nationwide that enable older adults with significant health needs to continue living in their own home rather than move to a nursing home.
To qualify for PACE, individuals must be 55 or older, need a nursing facility level of care, and live in the program’s “service area,” which includes 45 Fairfax County Zip codes, including those in Centerville, Herndon, Reston, Falls Church, McLean, Springfield, Vienna and Alexandria. The typical PACE participant is on average 80 years old, has eight medical conditions, and is limited in approximately three activities of daily living. Nearly half of PACE participants have been diagnosed with dementia, as well.
No place like home While Gold needs help with several activities of daily living, including such things
as bathing and dressing, he balked at living in a nursing home after moving from California to be closer to his daughter. What sold Gold on PACE? “I liked the idea that I can go home at night to my own bed,” he said. “It makes you feel like you’re not in jail.” Gold, who enjoys piecing together intricate jigsaw puzzles at PACE, serves as a kind of unofficial welcome wagon for new members. “I’m very happy with the program. I think it’s great, and I tell people that,” he said. Wayman Gooden has a similar view. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis nearly 20 See PACE, page 18
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