Trends in aging: Learning to age in place

By Wendy McHaney
Aug. 9, 2013 at 3:09 a.m.

Prior to the 1990s, long-term care options for seniors were basically limited to nursing home care. Over the past two decades, services that enable seniors to remain independent in the housing of their choice have flourished across the country.

Home and community-based services (HCBS) enable many seniors to have the option of remaining in their homes as they age.

Many communities, including the Crossroads region, have an impressive continuum of long-term supportive services available for seniors, the goal of which is to help the elderly with physical or cognitive impairments live outside of institutions and in their own homes.

One type of home and community-based service is the home health care agency.

Victoria is home to a dozen or so of these agencies, and most towns in the Crossroads have at least one. Two area home health agencies, Texas Home Health and Angels Care Home Health, service Victoria and surrounding areas.

Stephanie Utz, home health coordinator for Texas Home Health, describes the purpose of home health care as bringing medical care into the comfort of your own home so you may recover while maintaining your independence, especially if you need short-term skilled care after a hospital stay or while healing from an injury or illness.

She also emphasizes that an important focus of home health care is preventing rehospitalization. Both agencies provide skilled nursing, rehabilitation services (such as physical, occupational, and speech therapies), wound care and disease management programs.

Skilled nursing services can include insulin administration, diabetes and glucose monitoring, wound care and IV infusion care. The most common reasons for physical therapy include, strokes, hip fractures, knee and hip replacements and acute exacerbation of osteoarthritis and other post surgical needs, said Mary Barrientes, RN and Branch Manager of Angels Care.

Occupational therapy, utilized most often by stroke and amputation patients, is another service provided by home health to assist in attaining the maximum level of physical and psychosocial independence by working on fine and perceptual motor skills.

Speech therapists provide services for the treatment of speech, language and swallowing disorders, again, often the result of a stroke.

It is sometimes said that doctors no longer make house calls, butone area medical clinic does provide patient care in the home.

Pamela (Pana) Breazeale, a certified family nurse practitioner with Crossroads Health Center, performs home visits for homebound patients who are unable to come into the clinic for health care.

My next column will feature another area resource for seniors wishing to age in place, non-medical home care.Wendy McHaney is a certified senior adviser and the owner and director of operations of Senior Helpers. For more information about Senior Helpers, visit



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