I was given a tour of the PACE center in Seattle, WA a couple weeks ago.
Ever hear of PACE—Program of All-Inclusive Care of the Elderly? Me neither. However, PACE is something that every Boomer should know about now AND remember not to forget in the future.
PACE assists older adults in remaining healthy and independent community members for as long as possible. In other words, the program helps older adults live at home. Briefly, PACE works by providing a team of health and social service professions that coordinate all services under "one-stop shopping."
So, if you are a caregiver to a parent or loved one, you should know about PACE. In the future, if you want to continue to live in your own home, PACE might provide you with the assistance and services to help you do so.
Over the course of the tour it became evident to me that the success of PACE was the direct result of the "team of health and social service professions." Team members provide medical care (clinic and home), nursing, social work, OT/PT/speech/recreation therapy, nutrition counseling, personal care, transportation, chore services and meals. Wow!
I only wish I had known about PACE when my parents were still alive, they probably would have been able to live longer at home. It certainly would have made my sister's life a lot easier—she was their primary caregiver.
Given the fact that I had previously heard about study after study that revealed the desire of older adults to "age in place," I was impressed by the number of cases the PACE-Seattle executive director told me about, where this had actually taken place. Again, I couldn't help but think of my parents who I know, too soon, had to move out of their home and into assisted living and ultimately into a nursing home.
At this point you might be asking yourself: What does PACE have to do with technology?
Well, the only technology I saw that could be used by a "PACEr" was the kiosk in the lobby that was set up for handling job applications. There certainly weren't any PCs that could be used in any of the other rooms in the facility.
Maybe technology wasn't needed in the center. After all, "PACErs" are living in their homes and that's where they are using PCs for things like e-mail and Web browsing. However, that's not the case. The average "PACEr" is not, by report, using any technology and things like e-mail and video-conferencing are not being used by the care team to provide any services. As a matter of fact, the care team believes that their high level of touch (as opposed to using technology to communicate with an older adult) is one of the reasons for their success in keeping the "PACErs" independent at home.
How can that be ?
I understand the importance and significance of touch, but no e-mail? Calendaring? Not even a Skype check-in of some kind between in-person contacts? Apparently not
Honestly, I can think of a lot of reasons why a physician, nurse, therapist and social worker would not use technology with an older adult. My mother, especially, would have bristled at receiving e-mail from me if she knew it would "keep" me from visiting her. However, what about being able to get an insulin reading without having to battle traffic?
I didn't think to ask about that "kind" of technology.
I think that is what the use of technology is ultimately going to come down too. We're not going to think about it like we do today. There will be more programs like PACE and either the older adult will already be using technology or it will be standard healthcare practice. That, or the technology will be so good and create such a great experience, that we'll see how it makes the times we are in direct touch with one another even more valuable.
I'm betting on the latter. What about you?
The opinions and views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily state or reflect those of Microsoft.