According to AARP’s Home and Community Preference Survey, 77 percent of adults aged 50 and older would prefer to grow old at home. To make this happen, many healthcare organizations in Seattle and King County are stepping up to provide care in diverse ways.
Healthcare access is essential to all ages, but the amount and the kind of care needed begin to look different as people grow older. Wellness spans beyond the physical body; it also includes social, spiritual, emotional, environmental, financial, and intellectual health. Many organizations in Seattle acknowledge this and provide holistic healthcare, with mental health and social services as part of their programs.
On February 23, 2023, the Age Friendly Seattle Civic Coffee discussed what access to care can look like and how different organizations are catering to the diverse needs of Seattle’s older adults. The Civic Coffee panelists who explored the relationship between older adults and healthcare were Dr. Socia Love-Thurman (aka Dr. Love), Chief Health Officer at Seattle Indian Health Board; Jeremy Edmonds, Outreach and Marketing Liaison at Providence ElderPlace PACE; and Karishama Vahora, Community Outreach Coordinator at Providence ElderPlace PACE.
Dr. Love pointed out the importance of healthcare that is not only accessible but culturally sensitive to the community it serves. The Seattle Indian Health Board (SIHB) is a Federally Qualified Health Center and Urban Indian Organization that serves everyone, regardless of Native identity or heritage. They have been around since the 1970s and first started out to serve the Native Indian population that was displaced in Seattle without access to familiar healthcare services.
SIHB has since opened three locations in Seattle—the International District, Lake City, and Pioneer Square. The clinics provide basic medical services along with podiatry, behavioral health services, and substance use treatment. The most unique service they provide to the public is traditional Indian medicine. This includes smudging, ceremonies, prayers, teas, and medicinal plants that can be made into different treatments. Spirituality is an important aspect of Native Indian culture, and these practices are healthcare services that SIHB clients find familiar and comfortable. Dr. Love stressed the importance of holistic care, and Seattle Indian Health Board supports wellness for the body as well as the mental and social aspects of life.
Providence ElderPlace acknowledges the need for holistic and all-inclusive wellness as well. Providence ElderPlace is a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE program) that provide long-term care and social services for older adults so they can age in place with their loved ones.
Currently, ElderPlace has eight locations and the organization provides free transportation services to all of them. Each participant receives a personalized healthcare plan based on their unique needs and goals, and has access to at least 13 professionals who provide a diverse range of services, including nurses, drivers, and social workers.
In addition to their clinics, ElderPlace offers adult day health services—a space where older adults can come to have meals and engage in activities with others. Jeremy believes that healthcare is a right and should not be considered a privilege. While many healthcare systems are difficult to navigate, ElderPlace works to make healthcare easier to access for all communities, especially for those from marginalized backgrounds.
In addition to deserving healthcare services, having access to quality and whole-person-centered care is essential to living a happy and healthy life. The Seattle Indian Health Board and Providence ElderPlace are committed to tackling healthcare disparities within marginalized communities in innovative ways.
Age Friendly Seattle encourages our viewers to evaluate all aspects of their own healthcare and wellness to live longer and happier lives! Learn more from our panelists about access to care by watching a video recording of the February Civic Coffee on YouTube.
The February Civic Coffee was hosted at Lake City Senior Center. We were able to enjoy the company of the Lake City community while having a conversation about access to healthcare. The event offered multiple live translations in Spanish, Mandarin, and Cantonese. We encourage you to keep an eye out for our next in-person event to further engage with the community. Visit Age Friendly Seattle’s events webpage, Aging King County’s Age Friendly Live—Virtual Events webpage and/or follow Age Friendly Seattle on Facebook and Twitter.
Contributor Ronya Tan is an intern on the Age Friendly Seattle team, providing community outreach and program support. She is a student at the University of Washington.