NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – As people get older there comes a point where staying in their homes and taking care of themselves becomes more and more difficult. A program at Baptist Health in North Little Rock is making it easier and giving the aging population in Central Arkansas a better quality of life.

From daily checkups to different activities to keep the mind sharp, it’s all part of Baptist Health’s Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly also known as PACE.

“It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” PACE participant Bobby Oakley said.

Oakley is one of more than 100 participants in the program.

“I can’t walk anymore and I can’t take care of myself, so to come to a place like this where they help me do the things that I need to do is wonderful. It’s just wonderful,” Oakley said.

The goal is to keep people like bobby, age 55 and older and nursing home eligible, in their own homes for as long as possible.

“Most older individuals want to remain at home and they want to be able to take care of themselves and live a long time and enjoy life,” Baptist Health PACE Medical Director Jasmine Brathwaite said.

Brathwaite said on the medical side, they manage chronic conditions and take care of medications. They also have specialists that come in and work with participants.

“A dentist, optometrist and also pediatrist and if we need to we will refer out to a specialist to help us co-manage a chronic medical condition just so we can optimize someone’s health and take care of them to meet their needs,” Brathwaite said.

Along with that, they have games, singing and musical instruments participants can take part in to socialize and have fun.

“It’s a great alternative to nursing home care for those individuals,” Baptist Health PACE Vice President Sheila Williams said.

Williams said she’s seen just how much of an impact it’s made.

“This program truly makes a difference in the lives of the people that they serve and we get to see that difference every day,” Williams said.

As for Bobby, he said PACE makes each day and each week better.

“They are so wonderful here. They take care of everything,” Oakley said. “There’s no words that can ever say what this program means to a person like me.”

PACE is free for those dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. It’s available for those who live in Pulaski, Saline, Lonoke and Faulkner counties.