The following is a glossary of pertinent terms, collected from a variety of public resources. Though some of these terms are life-span terms, many apply directly to elder care.
Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
ADLs are usually considered to be basic functions performed by the individual to maintain self-care and social functioning, such as walking, dressing, grooming, getting in and out of bed, eating, bathing and using the bathroom.
Adult Day Care Center
A community based program that may feature supervised activities, meals, health and rehabilitative services for older adults who, because of mental or physical limitations, are unable to participate in typical senior center programs. Most adult day care centers operate during the week and can be attended full or part-time.
A written and properly witnessed statement of an individual’s preferences regarding the manner in which they would like to receive health care, in the event they become unable to express their wishes directly. Living Wills and Health Care Powers of Attorney are examples of Advance Directives.
A progressive, degenerative disease, typically occurring in older adults, that attacks the brain and results in impaired memory, thinking and behavior.
Partial or complete loss of the power of expression by speech, writing, or hand signs: and/or the loss of comprehension of spoken or written language – due to brain injury or disease.
Area Agency on Aging
The agency that administers government funded programs for older adults, such as adult day health care, transportation, home delivered meals, and referrals to home care agencies and long-term care facilities.
Assisted Living is a residential facility with staff. Medicare typically does not cover care in Assisted Living Facilities.
An individual who takes care of another person who needs assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). A caregiver is usually paid for these services, or may be a family member of friend.
Services in the home that may include housekeeping, meal preparation, shopping and transportation.
The process of recognizing, understanding, remembering and evaluating relevant information.
An individual or individuals appointed by the court to act as the legal representative of a person who is mentally or physically incapable of managing his or her own affairs. A conservator may be an individual or a public or private agency.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)
Housing communities that offer different levels if care ranging from independent living to skilled nursing care. Many CCRCs require a large down payment prior to admission, in addition to monthly fees.
Deterioration of cognitive ability, characterized by disorientation and loss of memory.
A social worker or nurse who assists patients and their families with health care arrangements following a hospital stay.
Elder Law Attorney
Attorneys who specialize in issues concerning older adults such as estate planning, wills, guardianship and conservatorship, financial and health care powers of attorney, and Medicare and Medicade.
Emergency Response Systems
An electronic system that automatically links an individual to assistance in the event of an emergency.
A professional (usually a licensed social worker or nurse) who performs an individual assessment of an older person’s capabilities and needs and creates a care plan to address lifestyle, medical and other needs.
Physicians who have specialized training in the care and well being of older adults.
An individual (who may or may not be family) appointed by the court to make health care decisions for an older adult who has been determined by the court to no longer be capable of making decisions for him/herself.
Health Care Power of Attorney
A written and properly witnessed statement in which an individual appoints another individual to make health care decisions on their behalf.
Care that addresses the needs (physical, spiritual, emotional, psychological, social, financial and legal) of a dying person and his or her family. Under certain circumstances, medicare will pay for hospice either in the home or in a specified facility such as a nursing home.
Determined by a legal proceeding. Required that an individual is incapable of handling assets and exercising certain legal rights.
Living Will (See Advance Directive)
Long-Term Care Facilities
Range of institutions that provide custodial and/or nursing care to people who are unable to manage independently in the community.
Long-Term Care Insurance
Private insurance designed to cover long-term care costs.
The federal health insurance program for people 65 years of age or older, certain younger people with disabilities, and people who have End-Stage Renal Disease.
Care intended to provide relief but not to cure; often referred to as care for the terminally ill. Pain management is a common example of palliative care.
Services designed to provide temporary relief for caregivers. Respite services can be provided in the home, community setting, or long-terms care facility. Care may be for a few hours to several weeks.
A type of living arrangement for older adults who are nearly or totally independent. These communities tend to provide laundry services, housekeeping, meals, recreational and social programs. Nursing services are not typically offered, but may be hired privately.
A financial tool which provides seniors with funds from the equity in their homes. Generally, no payments are made on a reverse mortgage until the borrower moves or the property is sold. The final repayment obligation is designed not to exceed the proceeds from the sale of the home.
Health care services furnished by licensed medical professionals such as nurses and therapists.
Skilled Nursing Facility
Residential facilities, also know as Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care facilities that provide 24 hour skilled nursing assistance and rehabilitative care. Generally, individuals who are bedridden cannot feed themselves, or who require skilled care, are appropriate for this level of care.
A legal document that specifies how one’s belongings, assets and property will be divided upon his or her death.