The Purple Lady and PACE
There was a time when Rachel Presha, 90, took care of her community: As a Suffolk resident, she was well known as “The Purple Lady,” the woman who dressed in her favorite color, painted her telephone pole purple and waved and smiled at travelers along Route 17. She brought so much joy to so many people that at her 85th birthday party, Suffolk Vice Mayor Leroy Bennett presented her with a certificate of recognition and called her Suffolk’s most well-known celebrity. Three years later, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People gave her their prestigious Life, Leadership, Legacy Award.
Now the roles are reversed: The Hampton Roads community is taking care of Rachel as she is a client at Sentara PACE Portsmouth. PACE stands for Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly.
“Someone told me about the center,” says Rachel’s daughter, Delzorra. “I was working when my mom first attended, and we signed up for full-time help. She was grateful to get out of our house. She told me, ‘thank you for finding something for me to do.’”
“Our goal is to help participants stay safe in their homes. We allow the frail and elderly to ‘age in place’ by coordinating care with a dedicated team of medical professions- doctors, therapists, nurses and other specialists,” explains Merinda Ford, PACE director of operations. “We also support caregivers because we understand the challenges they face.“
In addition to providing activities, companions and meals, PACE guide Rachel and Delzorra. They assisted when Rachel needed a wheelchair ramp and a hospital bed, and provided advice on how to make the bathroom more easily accessible. In the morning and evening, an aide comes to her house to help Rachel change clothes and wash.
“They’ve done so much for us,” says Delzorra, who is now retired. “Mom goes to the center Monday through Wednesday now and plays bingo and does arts and crafts. Delzorra no longer has to take her to doctor appointments and get her prescriptions as PACE has an in-house clinic where she receives regular check-ups by an on-staff physician. Her medication is delivered home monthly.
PACE took action as well when they learned that Delzorra wanted to attend her nephew’s wedding out of town. They provided Rachel with respite care, a place to stay for a few days while Delzorra was away.
“With how much they’ve helped us,” says Delzorra. “I highly recommend them to others.”