Common Senior Living Terms
Accreditation: A seal of approval given by a governing body to a housing and/or service provider. To become accredited, the community or provider must meet specific requirements set by the accreditation entity and is then generally required to undergo a thorough review process by a team of evaluators to ensure certain standards of quality.
Activities of Daily Living: Daily activities such as bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, assistance with medications, and transfers along with other tasks.
Administrator: Generally, a licensed professional who manages the day-to-day operation of a care facility such as a nursing home or assisted living facility.
Assisted Living: Assisted living is a senior housing option for those who cannot live independently and need help with activities of daily living, including but not limited to bathing, dressing grooming, eating, housekeeping services and transfers.
Alzheimer’s Disease: A progressive, neurodegenerative disease characterized by loss of function and death of nerve cells in several areas of the brain, leading to loss of mental functions such as memory and learning. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia.
Ambulatory: Describes ability to walk around and move from place to place, not bedridden or hospitalized.
Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC): A community that offers several levels of assistance, including independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing care. These communities usually offer long-term contracts or written agreements between the resident and the community which offer a continuum of housing, services and health care system, usually all on one campus or site.
Dementia: The severe loss of intellectual functions, such as thinking, remembering and reasoning. Dementia is not a disease itself but a group of symptoms that may accompany certain diseases or conditions. Symptoms may include changes in personality, mood and behavior. Dementia is irreversible when caused by disease or injury, but may be reversible when caused by drugs, alcohol, depression, or hormone and vitamin imbalances.
Durable Power of Attorney: Designates any proficient adult(s) to see to an individual’s affairs should they become either mentally or physically incapacitated. It is imperative to keep good, clear records of such agreements and recommended that you have a lawyer draft any durable power of attorney.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): This act states the requirements that a long-term care policy must follow in order that the premiums paid may be deducted as medical expenses and benefits not paid be considered as taxable income.
Hospice Care: Approach to providing comfort and care at end of life rather than providing heroic lifesaving measures. Hospice care can include medical, counseling, and social services. Most hospice care is in-home, while specialized hospices or hospitals also provide these services.
Living Will: A legal document that states the wishes of an individual who is no longer competent and able to make decisions on their own. Living wills address the use of life saving devices and procedures in the event of a terminal illness or injury.
Long-Term Care: Care given in the form of medical and support services to someone who has lost some or all of their capacity to function due to an illness or disability.
Long-Term Care Insurance: Insurance that pays for a succession of care giving services for the elderly or chronically ill. This care may be provided in a community or in an individual’s home with a nurse or aide.
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN): LPNs are trained to administer technical nursing procedures as well as provide a range of health care services, such as administration of medication and changing of dressings. One year of post high school education and passage of a state licensing exam is required.
Managed Care: The partnership of insurance and a health care delivery system. The goal is to coordinate all health care services received to maximize benefits and minimize costs. Managed care plans use their own network of health care providers and a system of prior approval from a primary care doctor to achieve this goal. Providers include: specialists, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, therapists, and home health care agencies.
Medicaid: A program of medical assistance designed for those unable to afford regular medical service and financed by the state and federal governments—available only in a skilled nursing setting.
Medicare: The federal health insurance program for people who are 65 and older, certain younger people with disabilities, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease. Medicare Parts A, B, C and D cover specific services and care.
Medication Management / Medication Administration: Formalized procedure with a written set of rules for the management of self-administered medicine. A program may include management of the timing and dosage for residents in assisted living, and could include coordination with a resident’s personal physician.
Nursing Home (Skilled Nursing): State licensed facility that provides 24-hour nursing care, room and board, and activities for convalescent residents and those with chronic and/or long-term care illnesses. One step below hospital acute care. Regular medical supervision and rehabilitation therapy are mandated to be available, and nursing homes are eligible to participate in the Medicaid program. May be referred to as a Nursing Facility or Convalescent Home.
Palliative Care: An area of health care that focuses on providing pain relief and preventing chronic suffering for patients. The goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life in all areas of a patient’s life including physical, emotional, spiritual, and social concerns that arise with advanced illness.
Registered Nurse (RN): A Registered Nurse is a nurse who has passed a state board examination and is licensed by a state agency to practice nursing. A minimum of two years of college is required in addition to passing the state exams. The RN plans for resident care by assessing resident needs, developing and monitoring care plans in conjunction with physicians, as well as executing highly technical, skilled nursing treatments.
Rehabilitation: Therapeutic care for persons requiring intensive physical, occupational, or speech therapy.
Respite Care: Temporary relief from duties for caregivers, ranging from several hours to days. May be provided in-home or in a residential care setting such as an assisted living facility or nursing home.
Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefits (VA Benefits): A supplemental income provided by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs available to veterans and their spouses. The veteran must have served at least one day during wartime. Resources: Guide to Using VA Benefits for Assisted Living | VA.gov