A new Health Club for Seniors has opened in our neighborhood in Lexington’s 40509. “Aging with Grace, Aging in Place: The Health Club for Seniors,” is a new concept in senior services — the Club combines a medical model adult day center, a senior center, and a spa, in an atmosphere designed to feel more like a country club than the typical senior center.

Founder DG Gridley was inspired to create the Health Club for Seniors after she took on the responsibility of caring for her sick in-laws, and then cared for her ill mother until the time of her mother’s death.

She says, “That year felt as if I had been parachuted into the middle of a jungle, and I had to find my way out,  alone,  fighting my way through the thick jungle growth (the confusing world of health care) to find civilization. I never did find civilization.” She then quit her job as a middle school teacher and summer programs director “in order to focus all my time and energy on my quest for a civilized way to care for the aging and sick in our society.”

She returned to school to earn her master’s degree in health administration, and spent another three years working, volunteering, and networking with local people and organizations who serve the aging in our community. And then she knew it was “time to open Aging With Grace, Aging in Place, The Health Club for Seniors.”

She knew a 40509 location would be perfect, saying, “We love the convenient location near the new Fayette County senior center that is scheduled to be open in the spring of 2016! We are here to meet the needs of people who require more attention than the senior center provides. We can do everything a nursing home does, but we are only open during the day. We want to help our members stay in their homes and in their communities as long as possible. We are also here because there is a large percentage of seniors who still live in their own homes near us and who would benefit from a medical team ‘who has their medical back’ because we personalize a plan that incorporates their personal medical history into what we call a ‘Wellness Map,’ to help people find their way to their best possible health and enable them to live a long and happy life.” Members will discover their “starting point,” and plan their goals and destination, “what would you like to improve? What would give you a better quality of life?”

Grace Place: The Health Club for Seniors

Dr. Gary Reasor says, “I think adult day services are a great idea.  I treat so many elderly patients with chronic pain problems that really limit their ability to get out and maintain some sort of social life.  It is frustrating to see them get depressed and give up hope.  If they had Grace Place, The Health Club for Seniors, where they could be around others and do some exercise tailored to their needs along with the other services The Club offers, I am sure many would feel much better and have their spirits lifted.”

The program provides a “Map for Wellness” for enrolled seniors, and offers two simultaneous programming tracks. Gridley explains, “One is for people who are not able to safely be on their own during the day, and one for people who do not want to get into a state where they are not safe on their own. We want people to realize that aging well involves being proactive and taking care of our health. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But we also want people to know that we are here if they have a loved one that they are caring for and who need a break…someone to help care for them when they can’t.”

What happens next, after you enroll (or you enroll Mom or Dad, Grandma or Grandpa), Gridley explains, “We would schedule a Wellness Consultation at your convenience. The Wellness Consultant would meet you in your home (preferably) or here at the clubhouse. The consultation takes about an hour. After the consultation, she would get your medical records from your primary physician, and design your Wellness Map based on your consultation and your records. You would then be invited to come to the club for an onboarding meeting, if we determine that we can help you get to your best health possible (if we are not the best place for you, we will make recommendations).

“During the onboarding meeting, the Wellness Consultant goes over your Wellness Map and the director talks with you about ‘Essentials for the Journey’—our membership agreement, payment arrangements, quality assurance forms and other documents, which takes about an hour.”

“At the end of our onboarding meeting, it is time for ‘Tea and a Tale Time,’ where we will introduce the you to other members and have refreshments together and listen to a joke or funny story.  We model our programming after the English.”

Of the senior day care options, she says, “a caregiver could sign up someone that they are caring for and then join the club themselves!” A caregiver might enjoy “exercising and a spa treatment” and then let the loved one stay behind for a day of programming, so the caregiver is then free to go “shop or do chores and then pick them up at 6,” adding, “We also provide transportation, if needed. We can even take someone to the doctor during certain times of the day, with a week’s advance notice.”

Speaking of payment arrangements…. how does one pay for services at the Health Club for Seniors? Is it covered by Medicare, or is it like other health clubs for non-seniors?

Gridley says there are several options, depending on the services selected. “For those who need us because they are not safe on their own, one pays with long term care insurance, or private monies, and after one has exhausted one’s financial resources, Medicaid will pay for our services. Medicare  [typically] only pays for 20 days in a nursing home and then a daily amount for the next 80 days (it varies year to year) after a hospital admission and discharge. A nursing home [might charge] more than $200 a day. We charge $65 a day for full time and $13 an hour for part time. A caregiver in one’s home through an agency costs around $19 an hour, and that is not even for a medically trained person.”

“For those who want to focus on prevention, we are $13 an hour. Some Medicare supplement companies provide Silver Sneakers exercise classes to their subscribers, and we would like to be Silver Sneakers class providers. However, we cannot get Silver Sneaker certification at this time because they tell us they have enough providers currently for this zip code.” [Stay tuned.]

Membership fees are on the low side for a health club. She says, “We charge a membership application fee of $100 and after a year of membership, an annual $100 membership fee. This pays for the Wellness Consultation by our registered nurse, and can be done in the potential member’s home or here at the club. It also pays for the designing of the Wellness Map, of which the potential member receives a copy (and a copy is kept here at the club).”

Reluctant to commit? She says, “We offer a free trial day at the club.”

How is it different from a typical health club? The staffing isn’t what you’ll find at a typical gym, Gridley says. “We have a person certified in CPR on duty at all times, and we have an RN, an LPN and a SRNA. We call our SRNAs (State Registered Nurse Aides) ANSRs (Aides to Nurse, State Registered and pronounced ‘answer’), because we so appreciate what they do. They truly are the ‘answer’ to many nursing problems.”

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This story also appears on page 17 of the September 2015 print edition of the Hamburg Journal.

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