Senior LIFE Altoona partners with Empower3

Updated to correct ownership of Senior LIFE.

Senior LIFE Altoona, the Blair County manifestation of a program that provides comprehensive help so older people can keep living at home, has partnered with a local primary care organization that takes a similar comprehensive approach.

The independently owned and operated Senior LIFE recently signed a contract with Empower3, founded and operated by local doctor Zane Gates, to enhance a slate of services that includes home-delivered and outpatient health care transportation to doctors, help with socialization, personal care, housekeeping, laundry, groceries, meals and other assistance to keep clients out of nursing homes, according to Eva Pope, executive director of the Altoona operation.

Gates is an Altoona native who has worked for years to design a practice that reduces the administrative burden of health care, enhances patients’ connections with doctors, controls chronic illnesses and prevents health problems from starting.

“The partnership with Empower3 Center for Health will give Senior LIFE Altoona members access to an array of medical offerings and a wide range of routine medical services, including physician and specialty care,” a Senior LIFE news release stated.

“These services include lab testing, imaging, chronic disease management, preventative care, home health care, medical equipment, behavioral health care and more,” it added.

The Empower3 connection will also give Senior LIFE members access to Gates’ telemedicine connections with medical specialists at UPMC in Pittsburgh, according to the news release.

Generally, Senior LIFE Altoona members must be at least 55 years old, live in Blair County, be financially eligible for Medicaid and be in a condition that warrants admission to a skilled nursing home, Pope said. For those who meet the requirements, there is no cost for services — not even copays, according to Pope.

Memberships are also available, however, for those who pay with private funds, she said.

Nationally, the LIFE concept originated as Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly in 1971 in California, Pope said.

“The Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) provide comprehensive medical and social services to certain frail, community-dwelling elderly individuals, most of whom are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid benefits,” states the Medicaid website.

The program started in Pennsylvania about 1990, she said. It’s now in 31 states.

In Pennsylvania, PACE is known as LIFE, because of a conflict with another program here known by the PACE acronym, Pope said.

PACE and LIFE programs seek to allow seniors to “age in place” at home, where they are more comfortable and more likely to thrive, until the end of their lives, Pope said. They enable members to remain as independent as possible, she said.

Statistics show that people survive longer and with a better quality of life outside of nursing homes, she said.

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