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Commonly Used Terms in Senior Care

55-Plus Communities

Allow seniors to live among those who are in the same age range. Members of these communities may be retired or not yet retired, and they generally live active lifestyles. Living in a 55-plus community gives residents access to many amenities such as recreational facilities, activity centers and golf courses.

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)

Activities of daily living are any normal aspects of self-care and maintenance with which adults in senior living communities may at some point need assistance. Typical ADLs include:

  • Dressing
  • Bathing
  • Using the Restroom
  • Administering Medication
  • Eating
  • Meal Preparation
  • Housekeeping

Adult Day Care or Adult Day Services

Adult day care centers provide services for seniors who need help with activities of daily living, but who don’t need overnight accommodation. Day services may include skilled nursing help, planned social activities and outings, and transportation to appointments. Many seniors who live with family members use adult day services while their caregivers go to work or take a much-needed break. See also: Respite Care.

Aging in Place

Aging in place is a senior living philosophy that values the elderly person’s opportunity to remain in his or her preferred environment, with increasing support services or adaptations, until the end of life.

Alzheimer’s Disease

A common form of dementia, experienced mostly by people over the age of 65, a degenerative brain disease that causes memory loss and confusion.

Alzheimer’s Care and Dementia Care

Alzheimer’s disease, which affects more than 4 million people nationwide, is the most common form of dementia. These illnesses can be difficult for family members to support alone, those afflicted may reside in a Memory Care Community for specialized care. Treatment for dementia includes helping residents with their daily needs such as dressing and bathing, and scheduling regular activities that enhance a resident’s quality of life, such as gardening, painting and walking.

Assisted Living

Allows seniors to get the help they need with day-to-day activities while maintaining some independence. Facilities offer residents help with daily tasks such as grooming, dressing, bathing, using the restroom, and taking prescribed medications. Assisted living facilities are not for those who need more advanced healthcare – that is provided in long-term care skilled nursing facilities. Assisted living also offers a social component, as residents can socialize during mealtimes and participate in other activities without having to leave the community.

Caregiver

A caregiver is anyone who cares for the needs of an elderly person on a regular basis. The term usually refers to family members or friends who provide the service free of charge, but also includes pastoral and professional caregivers.

Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)

Delivers several levels of care on one campus. These communities are made up of apartments that can be occupied by independent-living residents, as well as those who need assisted-living, skilled-nursing, rehabilitation or memory-care services.

Continuum of Care

A healthcare philosophy that allows patients to receive care at different levels of need, typically provided at a CCRC.

Dementia, Dementia Care

A loss of cognitive ability following a brain injury or as a result of a degenerative disorder. Memory care units at senior living communities and skilled nursing facilities specialize in treating and aiding those who suffer from dementia. See also: Alzheimer’s Disease, Memory Care.

Home Health Care

A type of skilled nursing facility that provides care for senior’s diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease or other forms of dementia. Specialized living arrangements allow residents to benefit from programs designed to meet individual needs based on cognitive ability.

Hospice Care or Palliative Care

Hospice care is special medical care focused on making people who are terminally ill as comfortable as possible in their last remaining days. It is covered by Medicare and Medicaid, and can be provided at home or in other senior living communities, including assisted living facilities and skilled nursing facilities.

Independent Living Community

A retirement community where residents are fully independent, yet enjoy living in a community with other active seniors. Some independent living communities are located in a CCRC, where residents can access temporary help or support with healthcare issues (such as while recovering from a procedure or illness).

Long-Term Care

Services delivered to aging individuals who need help with activities of daily living. It can be administered at home, in senior living communities, or in skilled nursing facilities. Residents in assisted living facilities and nursing homes all receive long-term care.

Medicaid

Medicaid is a government program that helps seniors pay for health services and long-term care. Medicaid benefits are limited to low-income individuals who demonstrate a certain amount of need. If your loved one will use Medicaid to help finance long-term care, be sure to find senior living communities that accept Medicaid.

Medicare

Medicare is a government program that provides medical insurance to all senior citizens in the U.S. age 65 or older. Medicare Part A covers hospital expenses, including home health care and hospice fees, as well as temporary nursing home stays. Medicare Part B is elective additional health coverage that covers other medical services for a fee.

Memory Care

A type of skilled nursing facility that provides care for senior’s diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease or other forms of dementia. Specialized living arrangements allow residents to benefit from programs designed to meet individual needs based on cognitive ability.

Rehabilitative Care Centers

Rehabilitative care centers provide short-term services to elderly patients recovering from debilitating events, such as strokes and falls. Residents of senior living communities may be required to relocate temporarily to a rehab center to receive specialized occupational, speech or physical therapy services.

Respite Care

Respite care is a service for caregivers that provides relief so they can receive a much-needed break from the demands of caregiving. In-home caregivers of seniors are encouraged to form a relationship with a respite care service for emergencies or intermittent help.

Retirement Community

Term used to refer to a wide range of facilities, all meant to cater to seniors (55 and older). These can be separate housing divisions, apartments, cottages, or any of those in conjunction with other senior services, such as in a CCRC.

Skilled Nursing

A nursing care center is licensed by the state and provides services and rehabilitation to people with illnesses, injuries or functional and physical disabilities who require 24-hour care. Nursing care provides both short-term rehabilitation while recovering from surgery or injury and long-term nursing and medical care.