; Enjoying Life and Soaring with PACE – LifeCircles PACE
Enjoying Life and Soaring with PACE

Joan Gitchel has been blessed with a positive outlook, and a love of life says her daughter. Hattie Austin. “Nothing keeps her down.” But at age 80, following a five-way heart bypass surgery, Joan began talking about moving into a nursing home. “She didn’t want to be a burden on her family,” says Hattie.

Joan lived with her daughter in Howard City while her son finished a lower level apartment for her. “At that time, I began navigating the elder care system, touring assisted livings, nursing homes and adult foster care homes,” says Hattie. “It was rather overwhelming. I honestly couldn’t envision Joan at any of the senior homes we visited.”

After Joan received a pacemaker, Hattie remembers hearing about PACE. “I heard of the possibility for better outcomes when folks can stay socially active within their families and communities instead of moving into traditional senior homes.”

At first, Hattie had misgivings about the coordinated healthcare at PACE and wasn’t sure how to even qualify her mother for the program. But after one call “the PACE enrollment team handled everything,” says Hattie. “We found the interdisciplinary team of providers to be very thorough, dedicated and caring professionals.”

Joan now lives with Hattie in Allendale and uses the Holland LifeCircles PACE program. “Mom gets her medications delivered to her door, physical therapy for her neuropathy, meals and activities at the day center. PACE also provided an emergency call device for her.”

A woman with short white hair, and a walking cane stands next to a motorcycle.
Joan Gitchel stands with a motorcycle after a recent ride.

At 94 Joan is enjoying living life to the fullest in the community. She recently took up a dare from her son to start riding motorcycles. Joan has been riding with her son, daughter in-law and their friends. Turns out she loves “soaring like an eagle” on the back of her daughter in-law’s bike. She’s now considering a trip to Green Bay with the motorcycles.

A person with a white beard stands behind a smiling older person sitting on a blue motorcycle.
Joan and her son getting ready for a bike ride.
A group of people in helmets stand among motorcycles and smile.
Joan and “the gang” getting back on the road.

Hattie Says, “it gives such peace of mind for all of our family, knowing that Mom is receiving excellent and compassionate PACE care. Mom’s health has actually improved with the support of PACE. She is more active and engaged in life.” Hattie hopes that sharing Joan’s story will inspire others to consider PACE for themselves or for their loved ones. PACE has helped Joan and her family meet health and support needs, which has freed her up to continue to enjoy and explore life with those she loves. Hattie continues by saying “PACE has been a life saver for our family”.

Last Updated on October 5, 2022