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Caring for someone medically outside the traditional hospital setting is not a new idea. Well before modern medicine, people were cared for at home out of necessity. Caretakers of past generations usually consisted of family members or friends. Today, however, there are more options available, depending on the needs of the individual and family.

Picture of an older woman, in a wheelchair, with a kitten

A shift in health care toward reduced hospital stays and an aging population are both factors that make home health, hospice, and elder care all growing parts of today's health care scene. Each of these care approaches serves a different, yet important, function in the evolution of modern health care.

Home health care encompasses many services for many different types of patients, including, but not limited to, elderly adults. People of any age who are disabled, chronically ill, or recovering from an acute illness may benefit from the services of a home health care provider.

Hospice service is provided for terminally ill patients who prefer the peace, comfort, and dignity of being at home or in a hospice setting.

Elder care encompasses many services developed to help older people maintain independent lives either at home or out-of-home, and receive the best care when independent living is no longer possible.

Online Medical Reviewer: Kolbus, Karin, RN, DNP, COHN-S
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 4/4/2014
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