HomeBensalem TimesLIFE St. Mary is helping Lower Bucks seniors age in place

LIFE St. Mary is helping Lower Bucks seniors age in place

The program, led by newly-appointed executive director Dan Moore, provides healthcare, socialization and more

Moore. Submitted Photo

Dan Moore, the newly-promoted executive director of LIFE St. Mary, which helps the senior citizens of Lower Bucks County safely age in the comfort of their own homes rather than a nursing care facility, hopes that no other local family has to experience the pain felt by his.

Years ago, prior to beginning his initial work at LIFE St. Mary as a physical therapist, Moore watched the health of his grandmother quickly decline due to rapidly-progressing dementia. With such a program unavailable at the time, the family had no choice but to place her in a nursing home for her own safety. 

“It was really challenging for us to see that happen, but we just didn’t have enough support in the community. If the program was around then, we would’ve 100 percent enrolled her,” said Moore. “She would’ve been able to live at home much longer than she did. The care that this program could bridge wasn’t there for our family. I visited twice a week and it was heartbreaking to see. I always thought to myself, ‘If I could ever not let a family go through this again, I would do that.’ And I found this program right at a point in my career when I was looking for something new.” 

LIFE St. Mary, a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly that’s part of Trinity Health PACE, was launched in March 2010 with seven participants. Currently, there are 259 seniors in the program, with more than 400 served over the past 14 years. 

According to Moore, LIFE St. Mary’s interdisciplinary team approach is what makes it truly unique. He explained, “It’s an aging in place program, so they have access to our physicians, our nurses, our social workers, physical therapy, occupational therapy, dietician, recreational therapy. We also provide home care aides to them in their home.”

Other services include van transport to appointments and medication assistance since many seniors struggle to afford high copays. 

Doctors, social workers and the rest of the interdisciplinary team are based out of LIFE St. Mary’s main hub, located in the Neshaminy Interplex in Trevose. Here, participants can also take advantage of an adult day center, which offers socialization activities, such as bingo, trivia, entertainment, lunch and more to not only keep them challenged and “sharp,” but help them form a deeper support system in the community.

“Socialization is, I think, a really underrated and important part of aging,” said Moore, who has seen countless friendships form over the years that went beyond the center to include weekend lunches and regular phone calls. “No socialization can really cause negative health effects on people as they age.”

In order to participate in LIFE St. Mary, an individual must be a resident of Lower Bucks County, at least 55 years old, considered nursing home eligible by the county and able to safely live at home with the assistance of LIFE St. Mary. The person must be unable to do a daily living task(s) by themselves, such as laundry, meal preparation, etc. 

Ultimately, said Moore, LIFE St. Mary gives aging seniors a sense of dignity and independence, and their family members less stress and heartache. Though getting older is never easy, maintaining an environment of comfort and familiarity makes it a little easier to tackle. 

“We really feel that you can give just as quality of care in their home as the nursing home. They can be close to loved ones. You feel love more,” he explained. “You can keep a married couple together as they age in place, and they can still get the care they need.”

Moore, a native of Northeast Philadelphia and graduate of Council Rock, is a physical therapist by trade who did outpatient and private practice for most of his career. However, after some time, he found himself unhappy with the work. 

“I was just becoming distraught with the outpatient world and insurance billing, and just the volume we were seeing,” he said. “I was just looking for something where I could really make a difference, and I found this program. I just fell in love with it from the day I got here.”

After serving as a physical therapist at LIFE St. Mary for several years, he held the title of therapy manager for three years, followed by center director for six. Earlier this year, he was promoted to executive director. In this new position, Moore is excited to lead the program into the future and achieve the following goals: support and equip all colleagues to deliver quality care to all participants; build a culture where all colleagues live the center’s mission to provide exceptional care to older adults; and increase growth to provide more services for eligible seniors in the community.

Regarding the latter, Moore has already seen growth during his tenure at LIFE St. Mary. When he started 13 years ago, there were about 100 participants compared to the current 259, who range in age from 55 to 96 years old.

“We’re continuing to grow slowly. It’s been remarkable for me to see,” he said. “It’s a really great way to give back to our community to support our seniors. For me, watching that is just tremendous.”

For more information and to determine eligibility, visit lifestmary.org or call the enrollment department at 267-991-7600.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com

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