Celebrating National PACE Month: 50 Years of Service

September is National PACE Month, which means it’s the perfect time to raise awareness of the importance of Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE®) in communities across the country. The past year and a half has led to many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and has only increased the need for safe and supportive services for our seniors.

Let’s take a look at where the roots of PACE originated, how it works, and explore how it helps real people thrive on a daily basis. 


The History of PACE

The PACE model is based on the belief that it is better for the well-being of seniors with chronic care needs and their families to be served in their own community whenever possible.

To put it simply, PACE is in-home health and social care simplified for seniors.

The PACE model of care can be traced all the way back to the early 1970s, when a San Francisco community saw the pressing need for long-term care services for its aging adults, whom did not want to move into a traditional nursing home. This need inspired community leaders to form a nonprofit organization called On Lok Senior Health Services, which originated a community-based care system. 

2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the On Lok program. There are now 30 states with PACE programs and 272 PACE Centers in existence today. Nationally, PACE continues to grow, with approximately 55,000 current enrollees as of 2020. In Michigan there are 14 PACE programs who operate 21 centers, and serve over 4,000 seniors.

How Does PACE Work?

PACE is a Medicare and Medicaid program that offers eligibility for those age 55 and over who live in the PACE service area, need a nursing home level of care (as certified in their state), and are able to live safely in the community with the aid of PACE support at time of enrollment. 


Although it is a common misconception, the PACE model is more than in-home assisted living. PACE provides an avenue for seniors and their loved ones to define wellness for themselves and work with a team of medical experts to meet tailored goals and live life on their own terms. A highly informed team of PACE healthcare professionals partners with individuals to customize services that improve and maintain their unique health needs.

PACE programs like LifeCircles offer help with daily living tasks and provide an incredible variety of support services, including:

  • Adult day primary care (including medical care, nursing care, recreational therapy and more)
  • Physical therapy
  • Dentistry
  • Emergency services
  • Home care
  • Hospital care
  • Laboratory/x-ray services
  • Meals
  • Medical specialty services
  • Nursing care
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Prescription drugs 
  • Preventive care
  • Social services, including caregiver training, support groups, and respite care
  • Behavioral health services
  • Transportation to the PACE center for activities or medical appointments, as necessary. Participants may also be able to get transportation to approved medical appointments in the community.
  • And a lot more

With this crucial support, PACE offers participants the ability to stay in their homes and receive a high level of individualized care. Only 5% of nursing home-eligible PACE participants currently reside in a nursing home.

Better yet, participants that are dually eligible under Medicaid and Medicare or those eligible for Medicaid only receive all of these services free of charge.

Real Lives, Real Impact

Recent polls suggest that most older adults do not want to live in nursing facilities. In fact, a majority of adults know they don’t want to ever live in a nursing home. We at LifeCircles believe that seniors add incredible value to our communities, and that is where they belong—in their own neighborhood and close to their families. It is important that they can spend time in their home with their children and grandchildren.


The LifeCircles team knows that each time an older adult makes a move into a new home or facility, it can take a toll on their overall health, and in many cases, harms their mental health. We also know that aging at home without support can be isolating and come with its own set of difficulties. The PACE program offers the best wellness and support options for older adults—care that comes into the home they love, socialization through visiting our Day Center, and quality medical care that honors their individual values and goals. 

Studies show that PACE  improves mental wellness and that enrollees are less likely to suffer depression. A recent report found that 27 percent of new PACE enrollees qualified as depressed on an assessment administered before enrollment. Nine months later, 80 percent of those individuals no longer qualified as depressed.

Providing Clarity and Wellness 

One of the biggest benefits that the PACE program offers seniors and their loved ones is having all services and medical support streamlined through one place. Healthcare is notoriously complex and frequently has rules and regulations that don’t always make sense, even to the most seasoned professionals. The PACE program makes health care make sense again. 

Often, elderly adults and their loved ones are forced to play phone tag with multiple medical offices that don’t seem to communicate with each other. This requires family members to take time out of their busy schedules to run errands and try to make sense of all the moving pieces. With the PACE program, the participants and their family members just have one phone number to remember where all healthcare is coordinated.

There will always be a need for nursing facilities. Still, we at LifeCircles are working hard to educate our community about PACE programs. Not only is it possible for many seniors to live successfully in their community with support through their older years, but a majority of older adults can thrive by doing so.

In a year when COVID has made social and medical support especially invaluable to all those in need, LifeCircles PACE has proven to be a clear beacon of hope in the lakeshore community.

Do you have questions about LifeCircles or PACE programs? Get in touch with our awesome team.

Last Updated on September 27, 2021

Am I Eligible?

Participants who are 55 years of age and older and live in our service area may be able to participate. Take our eligibility questionnaire to find out more.