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Semantics of Senior Living

Dana Larsen
By Dana LarsenNovember 27, 2015

Now that baby boomers are of retirement age, the United States is seeing increased demand for healthcare provisions and services.

With increased care comes new terminology that more accurately depicts today’s versatile senior care and senior living options. Read more about the evolution and semantics of senior living.

The Evolution and Semantics of Senior Living

Today’s senior care terminology promotes not only dignity for aging baby boomers, but also represents how senior living options have changed over the years.


The terms “nursing homes” and “old folks homes” used to have a stigma of institutional, white-walled settings we’re scared to visit. This no longer represents the care options of today, however, as assisted and independent living communities offer a plethora of appealing amenities and socialization for residents and seniors.

Argentum, formerly known as the Assisted Living Federation of America, couldn’t have said it better:

“As assisted and senior living evolves to meet the needs of the baby boomer generation, we must continue to refine philosophy and discussion of our service venue. In order to accomplish this task it is essential assisted living vocabulary reinforces choice, dignity and independence. The words we speak convey our philosophy and direct our actions.”

So how have senior living terms changed?

See the new recommended vocabulary below:

  1. “Admission” and “Discharge” are now: Move-In and Move-Out
  2. “Assisted Living Facility” is now: Assisted Living Community/Communities, House or Residence
  3. “Bed” or “Unit” is now: Apartment, Room or Suite
  4. “Elderly” is now: Elder
  5. “Long-Term Care” is now: Senior Living
  6. “Patient” is now: Resident
  7. “Tour” is now: Visit

What other vocabulary do you use that you recommend we should add to the list above? We’d like to hear from you in the comments below.

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Dana Larsen
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