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Albright LIFE provides independence for elders

By Staff | Apr 12, 2011

Fran Decker, a medical social worker from Albright LIFE, spoke at Christ United Methodist Church in Hughesville about long term managed elder care, supportive services, and ways to live comfortably at home for as long as possible.

HUGHESVILLE – Living independently for as long as possible is a welcoming goal as the years keep moving ever so quickly. Today seniors and elders can have a life of dignity and respect with the help of some supportive resources in the community such as Albright Life.

Fran Decker, a medical social worker from Albright Life, came to the Christ United Methodist Church in Hughessville last week to share their services that are designed to help older citizens remain in their homes to live healthy and active lives. The program was sponsored by the United Methodist Women.

“We give them the opportunity to leave their homes and come to some active programs at our center,” Decker said. “Other people their age will give them a purpose for life, connecting and meeting friendships,” she added. The center is located at 901 Memorial Ave. in Williamsport. It opened in June 2008 and falls under the umbrella of Riverwoods complex in Lewisburg, and also part of the United Methodist organization. However, with origins in California, LIFE is a nationally recognized program of all inclusive care for the elderly. “It means Living Independently for the Elderly,” said the Pastor. “Each stage of life and its challenges is a gift.”

Elder day care is a new concept in our area according to Decker. “We teach elders on how to live with the losses of aging,” she said. “With sacrifices and supplements, we can keep older folks in their own homes.” A social worker is assigned to each eligible participant as part of a multi-disciplinary team to work with that individual, family members and a registered physician.

One has to be medically and financially eligible for the all inclusive managed care program at Albright Life. After assessments are completed the necessary referrals are made. This may include a food bank, fuel assistance or handicap accessible resources. The LIFE program will help with medications, keeping appointments, handling multiple illnesses and any other level of care to keep the patient from going into a nursing home. A team of nurses, program aides, occupational therapists and a physician work together to maintain life connections, friendships and simple everyday functions. “Medical assistance will pay for some of the services if they are eligible,” replied Decker. If more medical care is needed than what LIFE can provide, then these services will be contracted out through other service providers.

“We have liberal guidelines for the program. This includes $8,000 or less in assets and $2,000 income a month or less,” she said. “Many home care policies are beginning to cover for long-term care insurance such as this.” If one is not eligible, they can complete a self-pay form and care plan based on their needs.

Some of the activities include a morning coffee club, morning stretches, a walking club and exercises, Bible study and guest minister program, bingo, games, reading activities and computers.

Transportation to and from the center is provided by 6 Albright LIFE vans, and their own pharmacy is used to help manage medications. There is a laundry room, beauty shop and counseling meetings once a month. A staff of 20 all have a geriatric background with one aide to every 7 participants. Phyllis Green from Hughesville commented that her father had a good experience at Albright LIFE. “He got to go places and everyone was so helpful to us. The van drivers were great,” Green said. There is a 24 hour on-call nurse for all emergencies. The program will also pay for interim and short term care or emergencies at home.

“Co-pays will cover for medicines and special equipment such as oxygen or a bedside commode,” said Decker. “As care givers, we keep in touch with families to know the individual needs.” Caregiver support groups meet the 3rd Wednesday of every month from 2 to 2:30 p.m. at the center. These groups are open to anyone caring for an older person and attendees are encouraged to share experiences and concerns.

There are 50 participants currently enrolled in the program. “We are always open, even during inclement weather. A trial visit is always welcome to see if they would like it,” concluded Decker.