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Blog Feature

By: Marissa Salvesen on January 12th, 2016

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Exploring Home Health and Hospice Care

Aging & Caregiving

exploring home health and hospice careAs today’s seniors are living longer -- many of them with chronic diseases -- their care needs and preferences are changing, too. Home health and hospice care offer an increasingly popular option through which seniors can opt to receive the care they need in the environment of their choice. Let’s take a closer look at home health and hospice options.


About Home Health Care

Home health care provides medical treatment for seniors living with illnesses or injuries. The goal? To help seniors regain as much independence and self-sufficiency as possible. Home health services address a number of different conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, COPD, pain management, wound care, oncology, chronic kidney disease, infusion therapy and psychiatric services. The frequency of visits and services provided depend on the individual's personal care plan. In addition to home health care services provided by home health aides, home health services also include skilled nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.

You may be wondering about the difference between home care and home health care, and the answer is fairly straightforward: while the former aims to help seniors manage with household and personal care tasks, such as meal preparation, hygiene and cleaning, home health care includes a medical component and requires specialized training.

About Hospice

Hospice also takes place in the home setting, but it has a very different aim. While home health care is focused on treatment, hospice is non-curative. In other words, the goal of hospice is not to cure disease or illness, but instead to provide comfort for patients with life-limiting illnesses, including dementia and other forms of Alzheimer's, heart disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and COPD.

Hospice takes a holistic approach to treatment comprising an extensive support system for both patients and their families including medical, social, psychological, and spiritual services. While accepting that this end-of-life benefit is necessary can be difficult, its outcomes can be profound, including enhanced pain and symptom management, fewer unnecessary hospitalizations, increased patient and family satisfaction, and even a higher life expectancy (although, again, that is not the aim).

One last thing to keep in mind? While we typically think of home health and hospice happening in the traditional home setting, these services also extend to senior living communities, including assisted living and nursing home facilities.

Ultimately, understanding the roles of home health and hospice can help seniors and their families receive the greatest benefits from these services. And while the circumstances which lead to the need for these services can be stressful, the services themselves can significantly lighten the load and improve quality of life -- not just for patients, but for their families, too.

Key Takeaways

  • Home care, home health care, and hospice are three different services with different goals.
  • If you’re not sure if your aging loved one needs home health or hospice care, talk to his/her healthcare team.
  • In addition to taking place in the conventional "home,” home health and hospice care can also be utilized in senior living residences.

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About Marissa Salvesen

My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!

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Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.