Suncoast PACE: Helping aging seniors live well and independently

L-R, Linda and Margaret Drayton


BY LASHANTE KEYS, Empath Health Community Partnership Specialist

PINELLAS COUNTY – The Drayton family believes in high-quality care and support to live in comfort and independence. All four siblings – sisters Margaret and Linda, who live together and brothers Arthur and Earnest – are participating in Suncoast PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly).

“I’m the baby. My sister joined and has been there for five years. I joined and have been there for three years. I love it. It is a great place to go,” said Linda Drayton, sharing her story in celebration of Older Americans Month: Engage at Every Age in May.

Comprehensive care

Suncoast PACE is a local program that cares for Pinellas County residents ages 55 and older with chronic illnesses. The focus is to maintain the best possible health and wellness for participants to stay living safely and independently in their own homes and in the community.

PACE Helping Aging SeniorsThe Suncoast PACE team provides care at its medical clinic and adult day care center or in participants’ homes, if needed. The team fosters healthy, social and active living through primary care, occupational and physical therapies, counseling, social support, meals, activities and coordination of medical transportation and care with other providers. Trained volunteers also give companionship and support.

Improving quality of life

Linda Drayton was born and raised in Tarpon Springs. She took nursing classes and became a nurse’s aide and then a LPN (licensed practical nurse). For many years she worked as a rehab nurse, and in 1989 suffered a debilitating back injury that left her disabled and unable to work. She uses a walker, has been a diabetic since the age of 22, survived two heart attacks, a stroke and is recovering from a recent broken wrist.

“I thank the doctors and God that I’m here. PACE means the world to me,” she expressed.

The team helps take care of her many needs, including treatment for her wrist and help managing her medications, diabetes and daily life at home.

She explained, “It’s nice. The staff members are great. I am getting therapy for my wrist. A nurse comes in and puts my pills in a machine, and I get them when I need them. The doctor sees my chart when I go in and says, ‘I love it, your sugar’s great.’ A girl comes in on Thursdays and Fridays and cleans my room, washes my clothes, fixes me something to eat if I need it and shops for me. She’s a good helper, I tell ya.”

The day center provides healthy breakfast, lunch and snacks, fitness activities, special celebrations, gardening, sewing, painting and more. Drayton prefers to socialize with a small group playing dominoes, cards and games as well as doing word puzzles to keep her mind active.

Staying well

Staying connected to family, including her son and five grandchildren living in Missouri, is important. They exchange photos and phone calls and she hopes to get the doctor’s clearance to someday make a visit.

“I eat right. I keep my sugar low. I walk as much as I can and try to get exercise,” she said.

She is grateful to have Suncoast PACE.

“If it wasn’t for PACE I wouldn’t be here. I am happy they are there for me,” she shared.

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