By Cynthia Flash
Looking back to last fall, Burien resident Flora Kennedy said she was “bored and lifeless.” She had no desire to get dressed in the morning, put on makeup and leave her home. She considered it a chore to even spend time with her family.
This was so unlike Kennedy, who started the Tiny Tots Development Center in Seattle’s Rainier Valley in the 1960s. She used to have the interest and stamina to chase around energetic preschoolers. But several back and knee surgeries sidelined her. She fell into a depression, afraid to go outside – relegated to a life of loneliness and solitude.
“I was counting my days down,” said Kennedy, a vivacious individual who had been so full of life. “I was bored.”
Then she learned about Providence ElderPlace, an innovative program of healthcare and social services for older adults that is part of the national Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). The non-profit Providence ElderPlace keeps older adults as healthy as possible in the community by providing comprehensive healthcare and social services including: primary and specialty medical care, a day health program, social work services, rehabilitation, housing (if necessary) and more. Participants attend the Providence ElderPlace centers on a regular basis and transportation is provided. The Providence ElderPlace team of health care and social service professionals and affiliates provide comprehensive integrated care to participants.
Providence ElderPlace has four stand-alone centers – in Seattle’s Rainier Valley, West Seattle, Kent and Redmond, in addition to two centers inside assisted living facilities. The program offers care to seniors who wish to continue to live in the community, thus avoiding or minimizing stays in hospitals and nursing homes.
Kennedy enrolled in Providence ElderPlace in October 2018 and is a changed person. “I have seen a lot of positive changes and so has my family,” said Kennedy, who enjoys socializing and going to church. “I feel acceptance of me at my age. I feel like I am a person because of this program.”
September is National PACE Month, a time to raise awareness of this program that keeps seniors healthy and in their homes.
Kennedy hopes more people learn about it so they too can enjoy a renewed joy for life. “My quality of life was very low. Then I started coming here and I’m happy. I started putting makeup on. It gave me a sense of warmness. I met great people. It gave me a reason to live.”
Providence ElderPlace accepts individuals age 55 and older who qualify under the state’s Community Options Program Entry System (COPES) – or Medicaid – program. COPESis designed to allow individuals who qualify for and require long-term care to receive the necessary care while living in their homes or other community living environments, such as assisted living facilities or adult family homes.
“The staff is overly warm,” Kennedy said. “The activities were rewarding. It’s a one-stop enjoyment place. If you have a problem with being depressed and homebound, this is the place. To have medical attention, this is the place. If you just need some loving on, this is the place. If you need a smile, you can get that here. They make sure you’re well taken care of.”
Anyone who is interested in finding out if they qualify to be enrolled in Providence ElderPlace should contact Jenny Kentta at 206-320-5325 or firstname.lastname@example.org.