Senior living, senior housing and senior care can open a whole new world to families. There are different levels of care–depending on your loved one’s needs–and various options, depending on a senior’s health, age and financial status.
The A Place for Mom Senior Living Glossary is designed to give you a clear understanding of commonly used terms that might come up during your search for senior housing and care.
Discover how senior living terms have changed over the years and refer to the glossary below for a definition of each term.
A seal of approval given by an autonomous governing body to a community 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. The accrediting organizations are independent, not government agencies or regulatory bodies. Some examples of accreditation bodies for the senior housing and care industry include:
This term refers to day-to-day activities such as bathing, eating, grooming, dressing, toileting, administering medication, moving around and many other self-care or maintenance tasks associated with daily living. Wikipedia: Activities of Daily Living
The AoA is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The Administration educates the elderly and family members about benefits and services available to them. Resources: AOA.gov
Passed by Congress in 1980, this law establishes a clear and comprehensive prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability. Resources: Wikipedia: Americans with Disabilities Act
There are over 28,000 assisted living communities in the US alone. Assisted living is a housing option for seniors who cannot live independently and need help with medications and daily living activities, such as bathing, grooming, eating, dressing and going to the bathroom. Assisted living facilities are referred to as ALFs in the senior living industry.
Adult Day Services offer structured programs with stimulating social activities, health-related and rehabilitation services for seniors who are physically or emotionally disabled and need a protective environment during the day. Participants are usually brought to the center in the morning and leave in the evening. Resources: Find adult day care near you
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.
The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging’s primary mission is to build the capacity of its members to help older persons and persons with disabilities live with dignity and choices in their homes and communities for as long as possible. Find your local Area on Aging
Board and care homes typically provide seniors with the same services available in larger assisted living communities; the difference is that these facilities are “regular” houses in residential neighborhoods that are equipped, adapted and staffed to care for a small number of seniors. The term “board and care home” is most commonly used in California. In other states, these homes may go by other names including “residential care homes” or “group homes.” Resource: More about Board & Care Homes
65.7 million caregivers make up 29% of the U.S. adult population providing care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged. The word “caregiver” refers to the primary person in charge of caring for an individual with special needs, usually associated with Alzheimer’s disease. This person is usually a family member or designated healthcare professional.
A court-appointed, legal representative of a person no longer capable of taking care of their financial and legal responsibilities themselves.
Full spectrum of care available at Continuing Care Retirement Communities which may include Independent Living, Assisted Living, Nursing Care, Home Health, Home Care, and Home and Community Based Services. Also see Continuing Care Retirement Community.
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.
A convalescent home is generally where a patient can recover from an illness or injury with short-term care and then return home.
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 cause by disease or injury, but may be reversible when caused by drugs, alcohol, depression or hormone and vitamin imbalances.
Dementiaville is the world’s first and only village for dementia patients. Resource: Learning From Dementiaville, a Pioneering Dementia Care Village
Doll therapy is a form of Alzheimer’s therapy where patients can use dolls that symbolize people. Resources: Pros and Cons of Doll Therapy
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.
The Green House Project is a non-profit focusing on environmentally-friendly and sustainable assisted living hosing. Resource: Green House Project: The Next Big Thing in Long-Term Care
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.
Philosophy and 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.
Independent living is when an elderly person still has the physical and mental capacity to live independently but wants companionship from others his/her age. Independent living offer specific services and amenities that cater to senior citizens and promote active, healthy senior lifestyles for the golden years. Independent living is not an option for someone who cannot care for him/herself.
Unlike Activities of Daily Living, which are necessary for fundamental functioning, IADLs are not necessary and are the activities that let an individual live independently in a community, such as transportation and paying bills. Wikipedia: Instrumental ADLS
A Continuing Care Retirement Community that offers an insurance type contract and provides all levels of care. It often includes payment for acute car and physician visits. Little or no change is made in monthly fees, regardless of the level of medical care required by the resident. The only fees that might change are the actual cost of living expenses.
A written, legal document that states the wishes of an individual regarding life saving devices and procedures in the event of a terminal illness or injury and is no longer competent and able to make decisions on their own.
A U.S. state-appointed official tasked with ensuring an organization or facility remains accountable to the public who is outside of its typical chain of command. – Locate an Ombudsman in Your State | The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care
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.
Is 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.
Public assistance funded by individual states in the U.S. for people who are unable to pay for health care. Medicaid can only be accessed when all other assets and funds are depleted. There are income eligibility criteria that must be met to qualify.
A staff medical director assumes overall responsibility for the formulation and implementation of all policies related to medical care. The medical director also coordinates with an individual’s personal physician to ensure that the facility delivers the care that is prescribed. In some instances, the medical director may be a resident’s primary physician.
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.
Private health insurance policies that supplement Medicare coverage, covering health care costs above those covered by Medicare Part A or Part B. Does not provide benefits for long term care, covering primarily hospital and doctor bills.
This therapy for dementia involves creating lessons and activities specifically designed to engage the senses.
Status of ownership and/or operation characterized by government by community-based boards of trustees who are all volunteers. Board members donate their time and talents to ensure that a not-for-profit organization’s approach to caring for older people responds to local needs. Not-for-profit homes and services turn any surplus income back into improving or expanding services for their clients or residents. Not-for-profits sometimes interact with Congress and federal agencies to further causes that serve the elderly.
Provides personal care to residents, including bathing, dressing and toileting. Must be trained, tested and certified to provide care in nursing facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Nurse assistants typically work under the supervision of a Registered Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse.
Facility licensed by the state 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 Nursing Facility or Convalescent Home. See also Skilled Nursing Facility.
A creative activity prescribed for its effect in promoting recovery or rehabilitation. This is done to help individuals relearn activities of daily living and is generally administered by a licensed therapist.
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.
The domains of the operational framework of person-centered assisted living include:
Purpose built communities are tailored to individual community needs. The model is run by a non-profit, Purpose Built Communities.
The treatment of disease or injury, by physical and mechanical means (as massage, regulated exercise, water, light, heat, and electricity.) Physical therapists plan and administer prescribed physical therapy treatment programs for residents to help restore their function and strength.
A Registered Nurse is a nurse who has both 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 passage of 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.
Reminiscence therapy is defined by the American Psychological Association as “the use of life histories to improve psychological well-being. Wikipedia: Reminiscence therapy
Legal rights granted by the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law, which requires nursing homes to promote and protect the rights of each resident. Specific rights vary by state, but include dignity, medical privacy, and visitation rights.
Residential care homes offer personalized service to small groups of adults. These homes provide lodging, meal services and assistance with daily living activities. Other terms include adult family homes, board and care homes, or personal care homes. Resources: Find a residential care home near you
The Sandwich generation refers to those who care for their aging parents while caring their own children. Wikipedia: Sandwich Generation
Senior apartments refer to age-restricted multi-unit housing with self-contained living units for older adults, usually aged 55+ who are able to care for themselves. Senior apartments do not offer additional services such as meals or transportation. Find Senior Apartments Near You
Senior Move Managers are professionals specializing in helping with the transition from a long-time home into senior living. Their membership organization is the National Association of Senior Move Managers.
These are senior communities that allow older adults to pursue higher education. Read more here.
Update: January 2018