Medicare requires annual checkups for people receiving its benefits, and the Indiana University Health West Central Region Senior Wellness Center has for years made those checkups not just a routine, but an entrée to more services, including those that can be life-improving and even lifesaving.
Now it’s making those interventions more accessible for seniors throughout the Lafayette area—and dreaming of greater impact.
In July 2022, the Senior Wellness Center started offering three additional locations for services instead of just one. Now west-central Indiana seniors can access the center’s services on Lafayette’s west side on Tuesdays, on the south side on Wednesdays, in Otterbein on Thursdays, and at the original Greenbush St. location on Fridays.
“This expansion is so important because it is providing more resources and services for seniors closer to their homes,” said IU Health Population Health Practice Manager Sherita Winston. “Now more seniors in the Lafayette area can have their health and well-being assessed and improved.”
Winston sees the location expansion as the first step in developing even more support services for this growing population. And as the program manager, she is researching ways philanthropy can help make her vision a reality.
“That’s my ‘why’ right there,” Winston said. “That’s why I come to work.”
The same ‘why’ can also be said for IU Health Nurse Practitioner Deb Pruitt who assists patients at the center. She works with their primary care provider—doing the required annual check-up and also delving deeper to see if more assessments or diagnostics might be needed.
Going beyond simple physicals, she talks with seniors about a range of issues, everything from specific health concerns to general well-being. She pays particular attention to seniors’ mental health, trying to identify signs of isolation, depression and anxiety.
“In the past three weeks, I have had three suicidal patients,” she said. In such cases, Pruitt connects seniors with behavioral health services. For other needs—such as food insecurity, problems paying bills and the need for end-of-life planning—she connects them with agencies that can help.
Prior to the pandemic, the center offered a number of additional services designed to enhance seniors’ general health and well-being, including nutrition classes, chair yoga, fall prevention workshops, tai chi and more. They want to resume those services but need philanthropic support to do so.
“The more support we have from community members,” said Pruitt, “the more senior lives we can touch.”
If you’d like to support senior initiatives in west-central Indiana, contact IU Health Foundation Philanthropy Director Julie Paolillo at 765.429.7525.