Nationwide, PACE providers, including the Adult Day Center in Westerly on Union Street, have been delivering independence to older adults with serious health issues since the 1970s. PACE has been delivering independence to Rhode Islanders since 2005. We are proud to drive PACE buses, and have the privilege of escorting older adults who had been isolated by their health issues.
This September, to celebrate National PACE Month, we had the ability to deliver independence to these older adults in a meaningful way, with a tour of the Rhode Island Statehouse, a building that stands for independence and representation for all Rhode Islanders.
When we pick up a PACE participant at home, we usually are driving them to one of our medical centers for a doctor’s appointment or to spend the day in the center. This visit to the Statehouse allowed participants and staff to enjoy a historic building, and learn about the ways that Rhode Island has been a symbol of independence since the 18th century.
The tour of the building was an experience boosted to new heights with the help of Rep. Grace Diaz, who met with our group. We took photos and even shared a meal with PACE. This experience was a reminder that all the little things we do add up to make a big difference in the lives of our participants.
PACE participants come from all walks of life. Our population reflects the diversity of our great state. The average age of those we serve is 75, though recently we are helping more participants in their late 50s and 60s who are living with behavioral health challenges. Nearly half of our population speaks a primary language other than English, 33 percent have dementia, and 46 percent have six or more chronic health conditions.
Nationwide, PACE programs serve more than 40,000 nursing home eligible adults: 95 percent of those are safely living in their communities thanks to the services PACE provides. These men and women all have one thing in common: a desire to age with dignity and stay in their own home.
PACE programs are designed with a full interdisciplinary team that works on the individual care of each of our participants. Our voices are heard, and our input is as vital as our clinical colleagues when talking about what is happening with our clients.
That Friday touring the Statehouse, we saw an activity that enriched the participants. Watching a usually quiet senior light up and stand in the Statehouse pretending she was governor that day brought joy to every person in the room. We are so proud this month, as always, that we are a part of a program that delivers quality medical care, and engaging social activities to so many older adults throughout the country.
When you see us on the roads in our big green buses, know that we are driving around and working hard every day to help PACE deliver healthy independence to Rhode Islanders; we are so happy to be a part of that team.
The writers are drivers for the PACE RI program.