Learn About Healthcare Settings Where an Older Adult May Be Treated



Clinics and doctor's offices provide routine and preventative care, such as health screenings and check-ups. They include:

  • Urgent care clinics, which treat illnesses or injuries that need immediate but not emergency care, for people who aren't able to get an appointment with their regular health professional right away.

  • Specialty clinics, which provide regular care and treat non-serious conditions in specific areas, such as eye care or skin care.


Hospitals provide short-term care for serious illness and injuries. Hospitals offer:

  • Inpatient services, when a person is admitted with a doctor's order and stays at the hospital overnight during treatment.

  • Outpatient services, when a person isn't admitted as an inpatient, even if they stay overnight to receive hospital care.

  • Observation services help doctors decide if a person needs to be admitted to the hospital as an inpatient.


A doctor has to place an order for formal admission to the hospital for someone to be considered an inpatient. Health insurance covers inpatient and outpatient services differently.


Ambulatory surgical centers, also called outpatient or day surgery centers, offer procedures that are too complex to be done at a doctor's office but don't require overnight hospital stays.


Rehabilitation centers treat people who have been discharged from the hospital but aren't ready to go home. Rehab services include physical therapy and occupational therapy, to improve strength, mobility and function.


Long-term care provides ongoing healthcare and support. Long-term care settings include:

  • Home healthcare, which can include nursing care, physical therapy or personal care in a person's home.

  • Assisted living, which provides a supportive living environment that helps residents with daily needs like bathing, dressing and taking medications.

  • Nursing home, which provides skilled nursing care, personal care and related services to residents with ongoing medical and daily needs.


Post-acute care refers to services needed after a hospital stay for short-term ("acute") care. Post-acute care settings include long-term acute care hospitals, rehab centers, nursing homes, clinics and home health.


Hospice care provides special care to people who are believed to have six months or less to live. Doctors, nurses, home health aides, social workers, counselors and others provide hospice care, by managing pain and other symptoms and providing support to families. Hospice care provides treatment and comfort but does not try to cure illnesses. Hospice care can be provided at home or in a hospice center, hospital or long-term care setting.


Palliative care is not a setting, but an approach that focuses on preventing and relieving pain and other symptoms. Hospice care uses a palliative approach. Palliative care can also be used in non-hospice settings, along with life-prolonging treatments.

This website does not provide medical advice. The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this web site is for general information purposes only. CaringWire makes no representation and assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of information contained on or available through this web site, and such information is subject to change without notice. You are encouraged to confirm any information obtained from or through this web site with other sources, and review all information regarding any medical condition or treatment with your physician. NEVER DISREGARD PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE OR DELAY SEEKING MEDICAL TREATMENT BECAUSE OF SOMETHING YOU HAVE READ ON OR ACCESSED THROUGH THIS WEB SITE.


CaringWire does not recommend, endorse or make any representation about the efficacy, appropriateness or suitability of any specific tests, products, procedures, treatments, services, opinions, health care providers or other information that may be contained on or available through this web site. CARINGWIRE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE NOR LIABLE FOR ANY ADVICE, COURSE OF TREATMENT, DIAGNOSIS OR ANY OTHER INFORMATION, SERVICES OR PRODUCTS THAT YOU OBTAIN THROUGH THIS WEB SITE.