Simplifying medical care for older adults

How PACE is Streamlining Healthcare for Older Adults

The complexity of getting medical care as we age can turn into a full-time job of chasing appointments and providers. In addition to annual appointments, screenings and testing, specialists are playing a larger role in the medical care of the average senior. A study released in 2020.

Getting in to see all those different providers can be tricky, with transportation in particular posing a challenge when the office is located far away, the patient doesn’t drive, or the visit requires somebody go with them.

Between appointments, labs, and follow-ups, the time adds up. Then there’s the time it takes to sort through insurance coverage, obtain referrals, pursue appeals and sift through all those EOBs. Older adults and caregivers in this situation must be wondering: is there a better way? Actually, yes, through the Medicare and Medicaid-funded Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE).

PACE programs bring all medical care (and more) under one roof. For participants, all their healthcare needs are provided for by a dedicated care team. Instead of driving all over town, many of those necessary visits will happen right at PACE centers like those operated by Element Care PACE across the North Shore and Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts.

From basic well and sick visits, dental, eye and hearing care to rehabilitation, every aspect of care for a participant is covered under the PACE program and facilitated by a unified care team. As a result, the work to patch together specialist and primary care visits, along with screenings, therapy appointments and sick visits, is streamlined significantly.

This consolidated care model offers a clear cost advantage over private insurance. *According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. households whose heads were 65 or older spent $6,668 annually on health care, which amounts to 14% of total spending in those households for the year. Participants in PACE programs, like the one offered by Element Care, pay nothing when they qualify – for co-pays, glasses, therapy visits, procedures, or any other qualifying medical costs. Since independent living in the community is a hallmark of PACE programs, even home health visits from nurses, dietitians and physical therapy are included when necessary.

As we age, the average person begins taking more medications, which adds to the importance of receiving consistent care. According to the CDC, more than 83% of adults over 60 are taking at least one prescription medication and over 1/3 of seniors are taking five or more. These medications, and the conditions they’re meant to treat, need to be monitored – but a 2016 study reported only about 45% of older adults have good medication compliance habits. **In speaking with participants at one Element Care PACE center, they reported that the frequent interaction with their care team helped to improve their personal medication compliance habits significantly.

With PACE consolidating all care and associated costs under one roof, participating older adults and their caregivers reap the health and financial benefits of having a single, dedicated care team coordinating all visits and treatments needed.

To learn more about Element Care PACE or to find out if you or a loved one are eligible, visit or                 call (877) 803-5564  (TTY 711).

Upon enrollment participants must receive all health care, primary care and specialist physician services —other than emergency services —as authorized by PACE, or be fully and personally liable for costs of unauthorized services.










Three Things I Learned Visiting a PACE Center

As a healthcare writer, I’ve spent time in plenty of nursing homes, assisted care facilities, and independent living communities, but I’d never stepped foot in a PACE center until earlier this year. Here are three things I learned from visiting Element Care PACE in Beverly that shed light on why this senior care option is growing in popularity.

1. It’s a first-name basis kind of place.

From the driver who picks participants up to the receptionist who is familiar with their daily routine, PACE participants know the folks at their local PACE center. It shouldn’t come as a surprise – after all, many have been coming here for years – but it was nice to see the friendships between staff and participants.

Given how challenging it can be for seniors to begin a new arrangement for their day-to-day care, a familiar face checking their meds, serving their lunch, or greeting them in the morning can make a big difference.

2. There’s something for everyone.

As soon as you walk in, you get a sense of the lively atmosphere. On the day I visited, several different craft projects were underway. Friends were catching up as lunch was served, while cards on a nearby table waited for someone to get a game going. *According to Pew Research, 65% of adults over 65 consider more time for hobbies to be one of the best parts of aging, and participants at the Element Care PACE center in Beverly are taking full advantage.

Since PACE is committed to helping older adults live more fulfilling lives, each center is designed to bring people together. The activities and menus even place an emphasis on cultural traditions reflecting the heritage of the participants who come in, including those with Latinx and Khmer roots.

3. Participants value their time at their local PACE center.

Element Care PACE centers are still ramping back up to full schedules after two years of COVID safety protocols, but participants are eager to get in more often. Many of them came to the center five times a week before capacity limits were in effect.

When the Element Care PACE day programs at the local centers were closed for COVID lockdown, participants received medical care and support services at their homes and stayed connected to their PACE care team members via a GrandPad tablet.

*A 2021 report found 49% of adults over 65 felt COVID-19 posed a major threat to their health, so PACE’s virtual doctor visits and medication delivery service have been readily accepted among participants. With everything starting to open back up, however, it’s not surprising many are excited to get back to their daily routine of socializing over coffee and newspapers, and to see the return of activities like chair exercise.

As I wrapped up my visit, participants were departing for the day with a wave to the front desk or a doctor before boarding the Element Care van back to their homes. Knowing many would not be able to live independently without the medical and social support they receive from Element Care PACE makes each departure all the more meaningful.

To learn more about Element Care PACE or to find out if you or a loved one are eligible, visit or call (877) 803-5564  (TTY 711).

Upon enrollment participants must receive all health care, primary care and specialist physician services —other than emergency services —as authorized by PACE, or be fully and personally liable for costs of unauthorized services.

“Michelle Ellis, Independent Healthcare Writer”