- Dorothy Holloway, Participant, Senior CommUnity Care of North Carolina
- Arden Shaffer, Participant, PACE of the Southern Piedmont
- Sandra McClammy, Family Member, Elderhaus
- Beth James, Participant, CarePartners PACE
- Marlene and Dennis, Participants, PACE@Home
- Andrea Thomas, Family Member, LIFE at St. Joseph of the Pines
Arden Shaffer, 64 year old mother and grandmother, is currently enrolled in PACE of the Southern Piedmont. On any given day, one can find Arden proudly wearing her Ambassador’s badge, and participating in an array of activities, promoting the overall wellbeing of her mind, body, and spirit. When listening to her stories about working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and then devoting over 20 years of service as a Registered Dietitian, it is clear that Arden is no stranger to hard work and setting goals. “My number one goal in life was to work hard, so I could benefit from everything that comes along with early retirement,” states Arden proudly.
Arden Shaffer with daughter Amanda Paugh
However, early retirement did not quite happen the way Arden was hopeful for. She became ill in her early 50’s, increasing her falls at home. When things became unmanageable for Arden alone, Amanda Paugh, daughter and now caregiver for Arden, had no other choice but to move her mom back home to North Carolina. As a fulltime mother and employee, Amanda knew caring for her mother was going to be a challenge. “She was literally hospitalized and admitted at least every 3 months due to frequent falls,” describes Amanda.
Arden began seeing a Neurologist not long after her relocation. Falls continued to be frequent, and Arden’s ability to function continued to decline. “We thought my mother had had a stroke. She was no longer able to cook, use the microwave, fold clothes, button her shirt, or walk,” states Amanda. In fact, Arden’s likelihood to walk again was slim to none, according to her Neurologist.
Following months of testing, and a referral to the Neurosurgeon, Arden was finally diagnosed with hydrocephalus. After, 6 spinal taps to remove fluid from the base of her brain, Arden finally was cleared for surgery to have a shunt placed, in hopes to begin receiving some relief. Upon discharge from the hospital, Arden was sent home with home health services, and introduced to PACE.
Arden Shaffer’s first Day at PACE
Despite the 42 falls and numerous hospitalizations that took place before PACE, Arden gained the courage and strength to begin working on what she was told would never be possible. Arden was going to learn to walk again. After several months of working with the rehab department, Arden was able to graduate from her wheelchair, then walker, and now only walks with the assistance of a cane. “Seven years of what felt like a roller coaster had finally ended,” Amanda shares with relief.
Of course Arden was not ready for her successes to stop there. Arden was ready to regain independence in her own home. While it took 6 months of collaboration with her Social Worker, Interdisciplinary Team, Amanda, and a referral to a neurologist to work on cognition issues, Arden was finally able to transition successfully into a Charlotte Housing Authority (CHA) Senior Apartment. Arden was once again living independently. Amanda was fearful of the move, “I felt like I was sending my child off to college for the first time; however I am thrilled she is thriving now and seems to have so much pride in her independence. I thought I would never see this day again.”
A transition miracle had taken place according to Amanda, and Arden truly believes PACE was a lifesaver for her and her family. Arden has a CNA, coordinated by PACE, that helps her daily in the home with medication management, moderate cooking, and safety in the shower. Arden also attends the Day Health and Wellness program, where she continues to receive training on how to function safely in the home, build her strength, and socialize with a group of her new found friends. “I love getting a good laugh as I relate to those my age, and we talk about kids and the crazy things they do today,” stated Arden cheerfully.
Arden enjoying her favorite burger restaurant
Arden is thankful for all of the services provided by her Primary Care Physician, and the Day Health and Wellness Center. She is very pleased to announce that she has not been hospitalized for a fall since enrolling in PACE of the Southern Piedmont over 2 years ago. Amanda is thankful for the constant communication that takes place between her and the interdisciplinary team. “It is almost like there is a layer in my life I am now allowed to let go of, and let PACE.”
Beth James wasn’t used to needing help. The retired social worker moved to Asheville from California after a long career serving at-risk youth. She didn’t know many people in the area when she experienced multiple traumatic events in a short time period; several of her family members died, a longtime relationship ended, and she had many health challenges including complications from diabetes and a stroke that left her with balance and memory problems.
Beth remembers those years as “the dark days.” She didn’t leave home very often and was frequently alone. She wondered about her purpose in this phase of her life and, as time progressed, became increasingly distressed. Her life had become unmanageable, and she was nearly evicted due to hygiene and housekeeping issues. “I was desperate,” Beth says. “My next step was being in a home or assisted living, but that thought was heartbreaking.”
Then someone told Beth about CarePartners PACE program, and in her words “a miracle happened.” PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) helps people meet their health care needs in the community instead of being institutionalized. A truly comprehensive program, PACE serves seniors in their homes, in the community, and at the PACE Center. PACE is an adult day program that also includes medical care, transportation, and so much more.
Beth began to come to the PACE Center a few days per week, and PACE workers also came to her home to help her manage things there. “For any problem I have, they are there. I needed the structure they brought to my life,” says Beth. “I’ve never been so pampered! They clean my apartment, help with my hygiene, got my meds right, and stick with my like glue. I get exercise and the staff is so full of warmth and love.”
Issues that Beth had dealt with for a long time were immediately resolved. For instance, she’d needed a hearing aid but didn’t think she could afford it. The staff took care of it right away. “Things don’t linger and get worse. If I’m sick, I can see the doctor or talk to someone and get it taken care of right away. I don’t worry about co-pays, bills, appointments, or transportation. They take care of that for me,” Beth says, noting that this was especially important given issues she experiences with attention and memory.
Most importantly, PACE gave Beth a social network and an opportunity to continue the life of service she’d always known. “I’ve made so many close friends since I’ve been here—amazing people. One of my friends here was part of the Women’s Airforce in London! Another was a professional tennis player. The conversations we have are incredible. We have so much fun! And I can be a listening ear for others who just need to be understood,” Beth says. She fondly recalls the story of one man who had a stroke that left him with some physical deformities. He came in somewhat shy, and now is the best dancer of the bunch. “The sparkle in his eye when he’s dancing! It’s like nothing else,” she says, tears coming to her eyes. “Friendship is healing.”
Marlene is a 75 year old female who lives in the foothills of North Carolina. Prior to enrolling in Pace@Home she was in a wheelchair and resided in a Skilled Nursing Facility. Marlene had multiple seizures that no one could figure out the root cause of. She has had several ER visits and hospitalizations prior to joining Pace. Marlene enrolled in the PACE program in September 2012 and lived with her son. Since her enrollment in the PACE program the Medical Director was able to attribute Marlene’s seizures to her abnormal sodium levels and was able to treat the symptoms. Marlene now lives with her sister, uses a cane to walk rather than being bound to a wheelchair. Marlene is also an active participant in the PACE wellness program, rides the bikes in therapy, and is a part of the Otago Balance Program.
Dennis is a 59 year old male. Prior to enrolling in PACE he had a massive stroke, fell and hit his head. He was hospitalized for 3 months and lost 30 lbs in 6 months. He was discharged to a skilled nursing facility for rehab, his blood sugars were out of control, he required moderate assistance with his ADLs, and walked with a walker. Dennis enrolled in the PACE program in February 2014 and lives with his sister. Since his enrollment in the PACE program he requires minimal assistance with ADLs, he actively participates in wellness, rides the bikes in therapy, and is a part of the Otago Balance Program. Dennis also now serves as the PACE@Home Participant Advisory Committee president.
The Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) through Life St. Joseph of the Pines Inc. of Fayetteville, North Carolina has and continues to be a phenomenal program that has exceeded my family’s expectation of emotional support and all-inclusive medical care. My mother, Mildred Thomas was accepted into the PACE program September 1, 2016 where she transitioned from a local nursing home facility following a severe ischemic stroke January 18, 2015. Her prognosis had she remained in the nursing facility from the view of the family appeared grim as she was consistently losing weight, fatigued, and was sedated through her multi-pharmacy prescriptions. As the primary care giver of Ms. Thomas, I am so pleased that through the PACE program she has had a successful transition from the nursing home to home; she has increased to a healthy weight and she is thriving mentally and socially. The care team through the PACE program have and continue to be a vital asset in familial support through services offered, equipment for the home, and life changing care that has exponentially increased the quality of life for my mother. Ms. Thomas’s family is so grateful for the inception of the PACE program and the opportunities it has offered in making her transition to home very successful. Thank you, Andrea Thomas