National PACE Month Celebrates the Model of Care That Helps Seniors Stay Connected To Their Communities
San Francisco, CA /PRNewswire/ - September is National PACE Month—an opportunity to celebrate PACE (the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly), the model of care On Lok created in the North Beach-Chinatown neighborhoods of San Francisco. PACE helps seniors live independently in their homes and communities, while providing a better quality of life with dedicated caregivers, transportation, full medical care, and opportunities for socialization.
The COVID-19 pandemic may be behind us, but California seniors are still suffering an epidemic of isolation and loneliness. Nearly 25 percent of adults over the age of 65 are considered socially isolated; older adults are more likely to live alone or to be homebound due to mobility issues or a lack of transportation. Loneliness and social isolation in older adults present a serious risk to their own health, increasing their risk of dementia and other chronic conditions. According to the National Institute on Aging, the health risks of prolonged isolation are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes per day.
As seniors and caregivers look for opportunities to break down the barriers that lead to social isolation, PACE stands out as a proven model that provides care to seniors in their own homes and empowers them to age with dignity and independence.
On Lok is a nonprofit organization that has been serving seniors for 52 years and created the PACE model of care to provide seniors with the comprehensive set of supports and services they need to age at home. The PACE program is often referred to as the "gold standard" of care for older adults, providing all Medicare and Medicaid services to seniors 55 years of age and older who require a nursing home level of care, but want to continue living in the community.
"PACE is a relationship-based model of care," said Grace Li, CEO, On Lok. "This whole-person, community-based approach to healthcare and long-term care creates a sense of belonging for both seniors and their caregivers who benefit from PACE's comprehensive support system."
The individualized attention and holistic approach of PACE delivers improved outcomes for participants' physical and mental health. Despite being older and more cognitively impaired on average, PACE participants have a lower mortality rate than comparable individuals in nursing homes. A study of one PACE program in St. Louis found that 80% of participants who met the clinical definition of depression upon enrollment no longer met the criteria after 9 months in the program.
Today, On Lok PACE serves over 1,800 seniors in San Francisco, Southern Alameda and Santa Clara counties, while nearly 70,000 frail seniors are served nationally by 153 PACE organizations in 32 states. Although the seniors served through PACE were among those most at risk for COVID-19, the person-centered, integrated nature of the PACE model kept participants safe in their homes and protected them from the spread of disease. On Lok's response went a step further to ease the social hardships and isolation that affected so many during the pandemic by creating multilingual virtual programs, delivering activities kits to our seniors' homes, and increasing home-based care to keep our participants connected to their care team.
This year's National PACE Month theme is "PACE: Where You Belong." As founders of the model of care that allows older adults to stay connected to their community and live full lives with all their care needs met, we believe PACE is not only where seniors belong, but what they deserve.
About On Lok
On Lok is a nonprofit organization that empowers older adults to age with dignity and independence. Founded in 1971, On Lok is a trusted resource in San Francisco, Santa Clara County, and the Tri-City area of Alameda County. On Lok founded and still operates the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), which allows eligible seniors to live at home for as long as possible by providing comprehensive medical care and social services. On Lok 30th Street Senior Center, the largest multipurpose senior center in San Francisco, provides a second home, health programs, activities, and case management services to active seniors. The On Lok Mission Nutrition Program provides more than 250,000 meals annually to seniors through its dining locations and meal delivery program. For more information, please visit www.onlok.org.