Modernization of society has fundamentally altered the family institution and at the same time has produced a medical institution capable of decreasing the prevalence of infectious diseases, while increasing the prevalence of chronic handicaps. Structural and functional changes in the family resulting from modernization include: smaller size and increased mobility; more women employed outside the home; age segregation and increased longevity of members; higher rates of dissolution; and loss of functions to other institutions in a more specialized society. Changes making the modern family ill-equipped to care for the chronically disabled are discussed, together with implications for rehabilitation.

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