Supporting Adult Day Clients and Caregivers

It is not an easy thing to walk alongside and provide care for a beloved spouse or loved one as he or she suffers the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. As we all know, Alzheimer’s disease is a thief – it steals not only memories, but also a person’s sense of identity and purpose as he or she loses the ability to do the things that have long been part of daily life.

Bob Gates lived this journey first-hand after his wife of more than 60 years, Audrey, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in July 2011.

Bob and Audrey met in 1st Grade and had their first date at the young age of 16. After graduating from high school, the couple married in 1954 and built a life together as best friends and partners. Bob’s career with Bell of PA and Bell Atlantic, which we now know as Verizon, spanned more than 40 years and took the couple to Sunbury, Pottsville, and Altoona before they settled permanently in the Harrisburg area. Audrey was a full-time mother and homemaker, raising their three children and actively helping with grandchildren as well. The couple’s favorite hobby was traveling. They traveled to many different places on the east coast, but returned time and again to Myrtle Beach, SC where they camped right on the water. An outdoorsy family, the Gates enjoyed camping, fishing, hunting, and time spent together around the campfire. The close-knit family also practiced a strong faith, which led them to serve their church and the community out of love for the Lord.

It is no surprise then, that after receiving Audrey’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, Bob and family banded together to care for Audrey at home for as long as possible. As Audrey’s needs increased and became overwhelming, Bob found respite and support through the Adult Day program on the campus of Messiah Village where Audrey became a client in January 2017. Bob’s objectives in enrolling Audrey in Adult Day were to provide her with increased socialization, keep her physically active and stimulated, and slow the progression of her mental decline. Additionally, Bob knew that enrolling Audrey in Adult Day would allow him to recharge and renew himself as her primary caregiver and give him time to downsize their home and prepare for the next stage of life – the couple’s move to their apartment in Village Square.

“Adult Day is a godsend,” Bob says. “The team members are the most compassionate, caring, professional people I have ever seen. They are genuine – it is not an act. It takes a special kind of person to do what they do, and they are just that…special.”

The Gates moved into Village Square in November 2017, and Bob continued to take Audrey to Adult Day every day until February 2018, when Audrey was discharged from Adult Day and welcomed to the Manchester neighborhood. Now, Bob visits Audrey daily, often utilizing Kibler Bridge, which connects Village Square to Village Center. In the Manchester neighborhood, Audrey continues to receive top-notch care, and Bob is grateful for the ways that team members show love and compassion to Audrey each day.

Despite the challenges and – yes, the sadness – of Bob and Audrey’s journey, Bob is grateful. “We are highly blessed,” he says. “I have met so many people at Messiah Village that I treasure, and I am blessed to be in a beautiful community surrounded by friendly, helpful, compassionate, Christ-like people.”

Written by: Rachel Pease, Director of Development at Messiah Lifeways
Originally published in “Spolight” A Newsletter for Donors and Volunteers, September 2018


Pumpkins and Leaves and Hay Bales . . . Oh My!

I came home from a weekend away last week to discover pumpkins, colored leaves, and hay bales adorning the neighbor’s porch. A sudden sense of sadness and indignation washed over me. It’s not fall yet! Don’t make me say goodbye to summer until I have to!

There is nothing inherently wrong with fall – crisp air and apples, comfy sweaters and boots, vibrant foliage and mums, football tailgating and soccer are all lovely reasons to embrace this season.

However, fall in Pennsylvania also means that cold weather and winter are around the corner. And for that reason, I will always have a love-hate relationship with fall.

I can already feel the dread rising up like bile in my throat. Dramatic? Ok – forget the bit about the bile.

But in all seriousness, I fight that dread throughout the cold months. I find it all too easy for complaint after complaint to roll off my tongue, for discontent to lodge itself like a stubborn splinter into my heart.

What’s a girl to do?

Gratitude is the only antidote. No, gratitude doesn’t change the weather or how I feel about the cold, but it does change my heart and my focus.

Practicing gratitude can happen in countless ways: keeping a journal or gratitude jar, thankful praying, meditating on God’s goodness, mindfully walking, writing thank-you notes to those you appreciate, and the list goes on.

Turning our focus from the negative to the positive provides a wealth of benefits – other than a cessation of grumbling. According to an article in Forbes Magazine [click here],  scientific research reveals that gratitude increases empathy and reduces aggression. It also improves

  • physical health
  • psychological health
  • sleep patterns
  • self-esteem
  • mental strength

Instead of whining about how cold it is this year, I resolve to express gratitude in some way every day.


We’re delighted to have Kerry Hoke, Director of Pastoral Ministries, join the blogging team. Kerry has a Bachelor’s degree in English from Messiah College, graduate credits from Asbury Theological Seminary, and a Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation and Leadership from Spring Arbor University. She and her husband Bryan, who is the Bishop of the Atlantic Conference of the Brethren in Christ Church, have three daughters.

Caregiver Absenteeism: a Growing Economic Burden

“There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”

– Former First Lady, Rosalynn Carter

The Family Caregiver Alliance® defines a caregiver as, “an unpaid individual (for example, a spouse, partner, family member, friend, or neighbor) involved in assisting others with activities of daily living and/or medical tasks.” We can also define most caregivers as loving, caring heroes, who give of themselves unconditionally while in many instances sacrificing their own health and wellbeing, relationships and even employment.

According to research from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, in 2015 there were roughly 34.2 million unpaid caregivers in the U.S. providing care particularly for someone over the age of 50. And the average age of a caregiver across the board was 49.2, which falls firmly in the primetime of a career and raising teens or even grandkids. Statistics also show them spending on average 24.4 hours a week providing care for a loved one. This research also indicated that 70% of working caregivers suffer work-related difficulties due to their dual roles. For instance, 61% of caregivers experience at least one change in their employment due to caregiving such as cutting back work hours, taking a leave of absence, receiving a warning about performance/attendance, among others. Furthermore, 49% arrive to their place of work late/leave early/take time off, 15% take a leave of absence, 14% reduce their hours/take a demotion, 7% receive a warning about performance/attendance, 5% turn down a promotion, 4% choose early retirement, 3% lose job benefits, and 6% give up working entirely.¹

Add all these stats and scenarios together, and you have a recipe for a residual burden on caregivers resulting in burnout, depression, poor health and a compromised commitment to their employers. This translates into poor work performance, loss of productivity, plus increases in absenteeism, health care subsidies, paid time-off, sick leave, and FMLA claims. Bottom line – caregiver absenteeism costs the U.S. economy an estimated $25.2 billion in lost productivity. ²

Employers must adapt

This problem will continue to trend upward, especially as the number of baby boomers surges and eventually grow older, frailer and more dependent. Employers will need to be more sensitive and proactive on this issue. Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) offers employers a number of suggestions for removing barriers to equal employment such as adopting caregiver-friendly work policies and workplace flexibility, along with providing eldercare support, resources, and referral services to caregiver employees.³ [click here for the full list from FCA]. As Rosalyn Carter summarized, the potential for caregiving can affect us all, so the likelihood of being a caregiver and an employee simultaneously is a strong possibility. Are you prepared as an employer?

Messiah Lifeways Coaching encourages these ideals from FCA to employers, especially in the area of education and support. Messiah Lifeways Coaching will be offering its annual workshop entitled “Caregiver Solutions” on September 26, 2018. This workshop is designed for those seeking options, resources, and support as caregivers, especially for those who may be struggling to balance caring for a loved one and their own busy lives. The workshop is also open for professional development and education and to employers looking to gain a better perspective on the issue. Topics include: assessing and avoiding caregiver burnout, care options, costs, and making a plan. If you or a staff member would like to attend, please call 717.591.7225 or register online at

¹National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP (2015) Caregiving in the U.S.
²Gallup-Healthways. (2011). Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Survey: Caregiving Costs U.S. Economy $25.2 Billion in Lost Productivity. Based on the average number of work days missed per working caregiver, assuming $200 in lost productivity per day.
³Williams, J. C., Devaux, R., Petrac, P., & Feinberg, L. (2012). Protecting Family Caregivers from Employment Discrimination

Benefits of Using At Home Services (Coach’s Corner Episode 11)

At Home services can be a great way for older adults to get the non-medical caregiving solutions they need from the comfort of their own home – whether that means daily support, housekeeping, or simply companionship. Listen to the podcast below for more details on the At Home services and benefits that Messiah Lifeways At Home offers, and read on for a transcription!

INTRO: You’re listening to the Coach’s Corner – your trusted source for advice and insight on aging well. Lifeways coach Matt Gallardo has been working in the long term care industry for nearly 20 years. During his career, he has helped thousands of individuals and their families on the journey of aging. His diverse experience, from hospital and rehab settings to senior housing, allows him to share a balanced perspective on aging, along with unique solutions for helping individuals proactively and purposely plan for the future.

And now here’s your host, Matt Gallardo.

COACH MATT GALLARDO: Hello, and thanks again for tuning into the Coach’s Corner on Apple iTunes, SoundCloud and Google Play.

Each year, November is recognized as National Home Care and Hospice Month by the National Association for Home Care and Hospice. During this month it is important to take the time to celebrate and give recognition to all the professional caregivers who make a difference for the clients and the families they support. Although, what they do and the care they provide 24 hours a day, seven days a week really should be recognized and celebrated all year round.

Now if you recall several episodes back, we talked about how adult day services can lighten the load for caregivers facing burnout. We also discussed how it can lengthen the caregiver’s ability to keep their loved one at home for as long as possible. Now, in addition to adult day programs, non-medical home care serves as a great resource to provide additional help to caregivers, providing relief or respite for family caregivers and, again, extending one’s ability to age in place.

There are many home care agencies across the country helping millions of people in need. And locally, Messiah Lifeways At Home has been providing non-medical home care services, and has been a cornerstone of aging in place, here in Mechanicsburg and surrounding areas since 1984. Pretty amazing.

Here today to talk with me about Messiah Lifeways At Home is Christina Weber, Director of Home Care Services, and Lead Caregiver Heidi Curry. Welcome, ladies!

CHRISTINA WEBER: Thanks for having us, Matt.

COACH MATT: Thanks for being here. Well, we appreciate your time and your willingness to share more about Messiah Lifeways At Home and really how home care services can help a spouse, or an adult child, or a loved one taking care of an ailing parent or relative. Now Christina, can you give us an overview of what Messiah Lifeways At Home does?

CHRISTINA: Sure, I’d be happy to do that. Our at home caregivers actually provide a really wide range of customizable services. We do everything from housekeeping and errand running, to bathing and showering depending on the client’s need. Some clients hire us just for companionship. You know – keeping them company at meals, spending time in their home. And others actually need more involved hands-on care or something specialized, like some med management – the type, intensity, and frequency of service really runs the gamut. We are non-medical though, and our home care caregivers are home care assistants. They do not work as nurses or other medical professionals.

COACH MATT: I think most people would be surprised by the wide variety of services. You don’t necessarily have to be in great need of hands-on care with things like grocery shopping or transportation.

CHRISTINA: Right. Sometimes there’s a socialization need.

COACH MATT: Absolutely. Now, there are a number of different home care providers out there. Tell us a little bit about what makes Messiah Lifeways at home so special or unique.

CHRISTINA: Well, we believe that we have an exceptional group of caregivers on our team. They’re exceptionally compassionate people and are skilled at what they do. At Messiah Lifeways At Home, we place a very high value on providing ongoing training to our team members.

We also provide specialized training and feeding, and quite a few of our caregivers are actually certified feeders, which means they are certified to feed in nursing facilities here and in other facilities, actually. Our transportation services also make us somewhat unique. We have wheelchair vans and professional drivers available to clients as well.

We also offer Phillips Lifeline units, and that is a fall alert system. So those are some areas that make us a little more unique than some of our competitors.

COACH MATT: While I’ve have had the opportunity to interact with some of the caregivers and they’re definitely wonderful people. They have a level of compassion and dedication that must be commended.

Now I mentioned in the opening that Messiah Lifeways At Home started in 1984, which, again, surprises a lot of people. But another misconception is that the services that you provide are only for Messiah Village residents, which we know is not accurate. In fact, well over half of those receiving your services do not live on the campus of Messiah Village.

Heidi, can you tell us about the service area and the requirements for using At Home?

HEIDI CURRY: We do serve our community clients mainly in the Cumberland County area, but we also serve clients in parts of Perry, Dauphin, and Northern York.

Some of our clients live in their own homes, but we also serve clients that are in other facilities as well. Our clients are aged 55 and over. We do have a two-hour minimum for service for those living off of the Messiah Village campus. But we try to be flexible and we try to accommodate their needs as much as possible, related to scheduling. A client can use our services for as little as two hours a month, or up to 24/7 if need be. And it’s really up to the individual. We will build a schedule around their budget and their needs.

COACH MATT: That’s great, and I think it’s interesting to know that aging in place doesn’t necessarily have to happen in a private home. They could be in another facility or an independent living community where they need that additional help. It’s also great to know how flexible the scheduling can be.

Heidi, can you tell us about your role and the process to begin using Messiah Lifeways At Home?

HEIDI: So, typically we will get a call from a potential client or a client’s family members, or a concerned person who may need our services. And we take that initial inquiry information and then either myself or someone from the At Home office will call either that person or the person’s family member, and we will set up an appointment to go and meet with the client.

We prefer to meet with the client in the location where we’re actually going to be taking care of them. So that may be in the client’s personal home or it may be in another facility. We will go and meet with them.

We will get an explanation of what services the client is looking for and what their needs might be. And then I usually try and take some time to explain to them how our services could fit those needs that they’re explaining, and then we have them sign a contract with us and then we determine a schedule needs, and we go from there based on what we can do for their care.

We strongly advocate for our clients being able to stay in their own environments and their homes, enabling them to be as independent as possible. And we also do our best to match up the client with our caregivers so that it’s a good fit for both the client and the caregiver.

COACH MATT: Another thing I wanted to touch on in this question that we get sometimes, is that most clients are paying privately for these services because unfortunately, health insurance such as Medicare does not normally cover the cost of non-medical services like this.

Some people are fortunate and may have purchased long-term care insurance that may cover these services. But for some individuals with limited income, there are some financial assistance programs out there to help cover the costs. At least partially. In particular, there is a foundation, the Cheryl Kay Foundation, that helps certain people get some financial assistance. Can you tell us a little bit about Cheryl Kay and more detail about that?

CHRISTINA: Sure. The Cheryl Kay Foundation is a wonderful organization that cares for both breast cancer survivors as well as older adults. Those are the two areas of focus for them. They offer a grant of one thousand dollars for home care services to older adults who meet the following requirements:

They need to live alone or with a spouse. They need to be 79 years of age or older and have an income between about twenty-two hundred dollars and four thousand dollars a month. Or, they need to be survivors of breast cancer. We have really enjoyed partnering with the Cheryl Kay Foundation on several cases.

So certainly, if anyone listening needs some financial assistance and has any questions about participating with Cheryl Kay, or any sort of rate information, you can feel free to contact the Home Care office at 717-790-8209 and any of the staff that answer that phone can help you with questions.

COACH MATT: We’re one of the few home care providers in the area, I understand, that participates with Cheryl Kay. Is that correct?

CHRISTINA:  Yes, that is correct – not everyone is able to participate with them. They sort of hand-select. So we feel very privileged to work with them.

COACH MATT: Well lastly, I know you’re always looking to add more dedicated caregivers to the team. Can you tell us the type of person you’re looking for, or why they’d want to join the Messiah Lifeways At Home team, and how to apply for a position as well?

CHRISTINA:  Sure! We are always looking for people who have an innate sense of compassion and empathy. We particularly enjoy team members who are looking for ways to grow and learn. Our ideal team members have excellent problem-solving skills, good communication skills, and a bit of a tough skin because sometimes, you know, our clients and the population that we work with can be challenging.

HEIDI: We are also looking for people with a caring heart. We feel like we can teach skills to people but we can’t teach sensitivity. So we’re looking for people who have that sensitivity that we can teach the home care and personal care skills to.

COACH MATT: You do provide training. There’s also a nurse educator – want to share a bit about that?

HEIDI: Absolutely. Nancy, our nurse educator, is the newest member of our team. And her focus is really on developing the skills of our caregivers. So that’s her focus – offering special classes for them that would be tailored to their schedules. We really try to work around people’s lives and life commitments. Nancy’s helping us provide that training in a flexible way.

COACH MATT: Is there a minimum that staff can work or certain requirements from that perspective?

CHRISTINA: Most of our staff are PRN which means they’re scheduled or as needed. They would turn into an availability calendar at the beginning of each month. And our minimum requirement is eight hours of weekend time and then four hours every other holiday. So, it’s possible that someone could be a team member and just meet those minimum time requirements.

But we really don’t have anyone who does that, because I think people really enjoy the work that they do when they’re working with home care. It’s meaningful work and people typically enjoy what they do and are willing to give more than that.

HEIDI: It’s also a job that allows people to work in other areas of employment or be stay at home moms, who are looking for extra employment. It fits in well and is pretty flexible to adjust for people who have other employment. So it’s a job that gives them some additional employment if they’re looking for that, and we’re able to give them the flexibility to schedule around their other jobs or other responsibilities.

COACH MATT: And that would include college students as well?

CHRISTINA: That’s correct! We love our college students. And we welcome them back on breaks during the summer with open arms, and are very happy to see them.

COACH MATT: That is a great opportunity for them and certainly builds character. That’s a great way for them to learn about life as well. I know some of the interaction that younger caregivers have with older clients. It’s really unique to see that relationship and that bond that they create.

Well, thank you again to both of you for joining me here on the Coach’s Corner! Again, if listeners want more information or to set up home care services, the number they should call is 717-790-8209.

CHRISTINA: Matt, thanks so much for your interest in home care and having us today.

HEIDI: Matt, we’re glad that we could be here today and share a little bit of our passion for caring for people, and allowing them to age in place by providing home care services to those clients.

COACH MATT:  Wonderful. We certainly want to help spread the word and appreciate the great information! Home care providers like Messiah Lifeways At Home are becoming more and more vital as our population grows older and prefer longer-term care in the privacy of their own home. So I hope today sheds some light on these wonderful programs, and we thank you again for listening.

If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard, head on over to iTunes and hit the subscribe button for the Coach’s Corner podcast and never miss an episode. Or, if you have an idea or a topic you’d like me to cover, please email me at Thanks for listening, and until next time, age well!

Carlisle Adult Day Center is enrolling new clients

The National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA) defines Adult Day programs as “a professional care setting in which older adults and adults living with dementia…receive individualized therapeutic, social, and health services for some part of the day.”

Carlisle Adult Day clients enjoy gardening with the Master Gardeners from Penn State.

Messiah Lifeways Adult Day services go above and beyond in providing a positive, nurturing programming to meet a variety of needs in clients, especially those with a dementia diagnosis. Music, art, exercise, gardening, service projects, a hot lunch, special events… everything is geared towards socialization and maintaining the cognitive and physical abilities of each client. We don’t dwell on what has been lost; we focus on what is still possible.

We’re also keenly aware of the difficulties facing caregivers in Central Pennsylvania. Adult children need to continue working, devoted spouses become weary with caregiver burnout, families and neighbors feel ill-equipped to help. Adult Day programs like ours provide a safety net – a safe haven – for the clients and their loved ones. The Messiah Lifeways Adult Day programs are also strongly connected to the Alzheimer’s Association which adds an extra layer of support through training, resources, and caregiver support groups that help the entire family.

If someone you love is unable to stay safely at home during the work week due to memory impairment or another age-related concern or you know someone who would benefit from the services at a Messiah Lifeways Adult Day Services, please feel free to help spread the word. Some additional points of interest about Messiah Lifeways Adult Day programs:

• They’re secured and thoroughly equipped to put the caregiver’s mind at ease.
• They employ team members, including several Registered Nurses, who are well trained in therapeutic programming, validation and remotivation therapy, and more.
• Focus on the client – their memories, their interests, their hobbies, to make each day meaningful and positive.
• May help to reduce the unwanted behaviors that sometimes challenges families and caregivers.

Our Mechanicsburg Center is currently on a waiting list but our Carlisle Center does have openings. Melissa Brandt, the Carlisle Center Coordinator would welcome the opportunity to give tours and talk about the admission process with anyone who is interested. The Carlisle Adult Day program is located at The Meeting House, Carlisle Campus, 1155 Walnut Bottom Road.

Melissa can be reached at: 717-243-0447 or via email at

To learn more about Messiah Lifeways Adult Services, please visit


Paying for Personal Care in PA: Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Personal Care Homes (PCH) and Assisted Living Residences (ALR) are housing options typically for older adults that provide hands-on care with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, grooming and offer three meals a day, activities and medication monitoring. The average annual cost of a personal care home or assisted living in Pennsylvania is $41,400¹. While some older Pennsylvanians are fortunate enough to pay privately for these services, a much larger percentage simply cannot. Either way, many of those who need these levels of care are often mistaken on how it will get paid for. Many seniors and/or their families think that Medicare or Medicaid (aka Medical Assistance) will pay for some or all of personal care or assisted living. But, regrettably neither offer coverage in Pennsylvania, therefore private out-of-pocket payment tends to be the primary funding source for PA seniors. But, a fair number of states like Florida, North Carolina and Maryland do provide full coverage through their state Medicaid program. For full details on all 50 states, click [here].

For many older Pennsylvanians who begin to decline and struggle to live safely at home, moving to a personal care home can be the perfect solution. However, again due to average monthly costs of $3,450¹, it’s just not an option for many.

Of course this is nothing new, so state funded programs through Home and Community Based Services (HCBS), also known as Waiver Funded Services or Waiver Programs, were created to provide alternatives. They provide support and services that enable individuals to remain in a community setting rather than being admitted to a long-term care facility. Some of these waiver funds particularly aimed at helping seniors include adult day programs, non-medical home care, home modification grants and environmental adaptation services. While these are helpful, they may fall short for someone who cannot live alone safely 24 hours a day, for instance those with a dementia diagnosis. In cases where placement is an absolute must, the other option is nursing home placement; because if financially eligible, Medicaid will pay for them to be in a nursing home. The problem with this is that a number of these people don’t actually need true nursing care. For example, someone with moderate dementia may be in decent physical health, but because of safety or behavioral issues coupled with little income and no assets, nursing placement becomes the only option. Thus – “becoming stuck between a rock and a hard place.”

Some good news

There are two direct funding sources that will provide partial or possibly full coverage for PCHs and ALRs in PA. The first is Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and second is the Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Not to be confused with Social Security income that most everyone receives after retirement, Supplemental Security Income is strictly a needs-based program determined by one’s income and assets and, of course, physical need. It exists for people age 65+, as well as blind or disabled people of any age, including children.

To meet the SSI income requirements, you must have less than $2,000 in assets (or $3,000 for a couple) and a very limited income. SSI provides a number of benefits like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. It also provides a monthly payment for the PA “Domiciliary Care or “Dom Care” program. As stated on PA Aging website, “Dom Care was created to provide a home-like living arrangement in the community for adults age 18 and older who need assistance with activities of daily living and are unable to live independently. Dom care providers open their homes to individuals who need supervision, support, and encouragement in a family-like setting.

Dom care residents are matched to homes that best meet their special needs, preferences, and interests. Dom care homes are smaller than the traditional personal care home in that home providers care for no more than three dom care residents. Unlike larger personal care homes, dom care homes are the individual providers’ homes. They are inspected annually to ensure they meet health and safety standards. If the home and provider pass this inspection, they become certified.

The local Area Agency on Aging is responsible for the initial certification and ongoing annual inspections of Dom Care homes in their area. They are also responsible for the placement of individuals into certified Dom Care homes.”

Supplemental Security Income in Pennsylvania will also cover monthly Personal Care/Boarding Home (PCBH) costs at $1,189.30 per eligible person or $2082.40 per eligible couple∗. The drawback to this funding option is that personal care homes must be willing to participate and accept these shortfall amounts. Thus, finding a participating facility can be a challenge. To get a list of facilities that accept SSI payments, please contact your local County Area Agency on Aging.

Next, the V.A. Aid and Attendance benefit provides an additional monthly pension to eligible veterans and/or their surviving spouses. Eligibility is based on income and assets, war-time service status and physical/medical need. This additional monthly stipend can be used for community based services, but can also be used to cover costs associated with placement in a personal care home or assisted living setting. To learn more click [here].

Lastly, another alternative in Pa, which falls under the category of community support is the LIFE (Living Independence for the Elderly) program. A person continues to live at home, but LIFE offers heavier partial day services and care to keep them there for as long as possible. “…it is an option that allows older Pennsylvanians to live independently while receiving services and supports that meet the health and personal needs of the individual [such as physician, nursing and rehab services, transportation and heavy physical assistance.]

Living Independence for the Elderly (LIFE) is a managed care program that provides a comprehensive, all-inclusive package of medical and supportive services. The program is known nationally as the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). All PACE providers in Pennsylvania have “LIFE” in their name. The first programs were implemented in Pennsylvania in 1998.” This is a program, if eligible, Medical Assistance (Medicaid) will pay for.

Final thoughts

In Pennsylvania, those who can afford to pay privately for the assistive care facilities, the burden is mostly on you. If you are someone who might qualify for coverage based on low income and assets, you may be fortunate enough to find a local option. But for a large chunk of older adults who fall between these two extremes, I wish I had more options to share. My advice is to be more proactive and anticipate the possibility of needing care as we age. Be mindful of unnecessary spending or gifting after retirement. Become more familiar with placement options and related costs. And most importantly, save more for retirement and earmark it for future care! We’re all living longer and care is not getting any cheaper. And although senior advocacy groups like LeadingAge™ PA continue the push to have ALR/PCHs receive partial government funding; current legislation is trending away from covering institutional types of care.

For more information or help on this topic, please contact Messiah Lifeways Coaching at 717.591.7225 or

¹Genworth Financial Cost of Care Survey 2017
∗Current SSI rates as of 2018


Walker & Rollator Safety Tips

Written by Christina Weber, Director of Home Care Services

Article adapted from
“How do I use my walker (rollator)? at

More and more older adults are using wheeled walkers or rollators to get around. And whether you are a hired caregiver or a family caregiver, you can help minimize their risk of injury by encouraging safe use of their device. There are four main activities that users need to perform safely when using their walkers. These are: standing up, walking, turning, and sitting down.

Wheeled walker


Common mistakes made while using walkers, wheeled walkers or rollators are made during these activities and include, but are not limited to:

  • Not engaging the brakes when sitting or standing.
  • Starting to sit while still turning in front of the chair/bed/toilet/car.
  • Taking uneven steps.
  • Holding the walker too close/too far away from you while taking steps.
  • Forgetting to use the walker – walking away from the walker.
  • Holding the walker with both hands while standing up and sitting down.
  • Leaning too far away from the base of support provided by the walker.
  • Twisting away from the walker while turning.
  • Sitting on the wheeled walker or rollator while someone pushes it. (Note: Some walkers are made with this capability, but you should conform the device is designed to do this.)
  • If the user needs assistance, help them by guiding their body forward and keeping their weight over their feet. Do not pull them through by their arms or shoulders. Also they should not hold onto you, they should hold on to the furniture and walker while you support them.

This devices were created to assist and support their users, but not used properly they can potentially create more danger and increase the chance of injury. For safe and efficient use of a walker, rollator or other ambulatory devices, please consult your therapist or physician. If you need additional information, please visit


Messiah Lifeways At Home Team Members Recognized Among Best in Pennsylvania

Messiah Lifeways At Home team members Jennifer Medina and Ashley Hannon, pictured here with Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne, were among several Direct Care Worker of the Year nominees. They were celebrated recently at the Pennsylvania Homecare Association’s 2nd Annual Direct Care Worker Forum in Harrisburg. Messiah Lifeways At Home has been providing a broad range of non-medical caregiving services such as daily support, housekeeping, and companionship to older adults in the greater Harrisburg region since 1984. “Our entire team was honored by Jennifer and Ashley’s nomination and we celebrate this achievement with them. Their compassion and dedication is admirable; and we look forward to serving more clients in our region with this same spirit,” noted Christina Weber, Director of Community Support Services for Messiah Lifeways.

Dear Future Self

If you’re like most, you’ve likely had your fair share of “dear future self” moments, especially after bearing witness to the unwise, undesirable or unsafe behavior of others as well as our own transgressions. It can be a great influencer of not walking the same path or repeating history, or taking the optimist’s view and turning a bad choice into a teachable moment. This can apply to many different aspects of life…poor health choices, substance abuse, not taking responsibility for one’s actions, poor money management; the list can go on and on. But recognizing or even suffering the consequences of poor choices is not always enough to stop our own perpetuation of bad decision making.

Choices and our own mortality and well-being

During the cycle of life, adult children may one day experience an ailing parent making unsafe choices about their health and well-being. The ailing loved one may stop following doctor’s orders, not take their meds as directed, recklessly drive, live in an unsafe home environment, refuse help, or ignore a diagnosis. This list too can go on and on. Fortunately, many aging loved ones recognize and appropriately deal with some of the challenges of growing older. Accepting one’s own limitations, downsizing, moving to a care facility, asking or accepting help are smarter ways of responsibly growing older. For those who are true to themselves and are not too proud, accepting these actualities can ease a heavy burden from themselves and their loved ones. It can even be liberating!

In my line of work, I encounter families that feel “blessed” or “fortunate” that mom or grandpa realized they needed help, asked for a change and took control of their evolving lifestyle early on in their journey of aging. We often witness them living longer, healthier, happier lives when they surround themselves with care and a modified or age-friendly home or environment.

One the other hand I also meet older adults that are often described as “stubborn” and “ornery.” Pride and or denial cloud their judgment about their own safety and well-being. Memory and cognition impairment can also distort common sense and reasoning. They do not recognize their own deficits or the problems and challenges they create for themselves and their loved ones as they engage in unsafe or unhealthy choices.

Furthermore we hear family members proclaim they’ll never be that stubborn or uncooperative and won’t lay such burdens on their adult children. But again, others conversely admit they will be strong-willed and cantankerous “just like dad” or they forget just how difficult it was and perpetuate a similarly distressful journey for their family members.

Write it down to remember the lessons learned

Write your future self a letter, then open it when the time is right.

No matter your persuasion, I ask of you, or better yet plead with you, be true and accountable to your future self. Be proactive, plan ahead and remember the lessons you learned from taking care of your parents or grandparents. Write it down. Remember the struggles and heartache you had getting your father to accept the help he needed. Remember the pain and strife you dealt with having to make medical decisions on your mother’s behalf, because she did not have a living will. Remember the care facility you were forced to choose for dad because no preliminary research was ever done or even dare spoken of. If you experienced any of these or similar scenarios and it was painful and overwhelming, why would you want to put your children or caregiver through the same ringer?

Remember, being proactive about long-term care is not about admitting defeat or fearing the end is near, it’s about control and self-determination. Preplanning a funeral or researching care options for the future will not expedite an early demise. At age 65 these proactive decisions may not be relevant for 15-25 years, but isn’t it reassuring to yourself and your family that you have those ‘what ifs’ covered? At 85, if you need help to live safely in your home for as long as possible, embrace it and make a plan; do it the right way. If moving to a retirement community or care facility provides peace of mind for those who care about you, have an open mind; consider the possibilities. Be true and kind to your future self and those who care about you. They only want the best for you, just as you wanted the best for your parents.

If you have additional questions or would like to talk with me further, please contact me at 717.591.7225 or email

Podcast 12: Reducing Caregiver Stress & Family Friction

Locking horns with a family member about an aging parent’s care? It can make an already stressful situation that much worse. Family dynamics, disagreement, and old wounds can make the process of caring for an ailing parent very complicated between family members, especially siblings.

This episode focuses reducing friction and caregiver stress between family members for the good of the cause by examining caregiver equity, putting aside differences and gaining new perspectives. Listen to the Coach’s Corner podcast and check out some the additional resources to make caregiving a little less stressful and more manageable.

Click here to listen to Episode 12

Additional resources to check out:

“What to Do about Mama?” by Barbara Matthews & Barbara Trainin Blank, published by Sunbury Press…ers/dp/1620063158

“The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer ’s Disease, Related Dementia and Memory Loss” by Nancy Mace M.A and Peter Rabins, M.D. M.P.H. published by The Johns Hopkins University Press.…ias/dp/1455521159

Or visit the Family Caregiver Alliance at