Senior Care Terminology Glossary



Activities of Daily Living

Activities of Daily Living include dressing, bathing, eating, walking and all the necessary activities required to function on a daily basis such as cooking meals and cleaning up afterwards, making a bed and doing laundry.

Adult Day Care

Specialized care offered during business hours Monday through Friday, following the business model of child day care programs. Sometimes transportation to and from the Adult Day Care center is provided. Meals are included, along with activities to promote socialization and physical and mental stimulation. Customized activities are provided for seniors with memory loss. Adult Day Care provides a solution for offering scheduled breaks for spouses and other family caregivers.

Advance Directive for Health Care

Legal documents outlining how a person’s medical decisions are to be handled, including living will, Power of Attorney for Health Care and Power of Attorney for Finances and may be part of a trust or estate plan.

Back to top


Bed Hold

A hold reservation placed on a nursing home bed if a resident is only going to be hospitalized temporarily or on therapeutic leave. Bed holds are mostly needed by Medicaid patients to prevent another Medicaid patient from taking their place. Some state Medicaid programs pay for bed holds and Medicaid nursing home residents have the right to return to the first available bed in the facility they left from.

Back to top


Certified Nursing Aide (C.N.A.)

Each state regulates their nursing requirements, with the first stage of training providing for certification after required course work and in-field training has been completed, along with background checks and final exam. Certified Nursing Aides are trained to assist in all Activities of Daily Living, including bathing, transfers and feeding.

Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)

A retirement community organized to provide care for all stages of aging. Most CCRC’s require a down payment, monthly rental payments and may charge fees for extra services. This delivers peace-of-mind to seniors, knowing they can remain in one community as their care needs change. Independent Living townhomes or apartments are offered, along with Assisted Living apartments and Nursing Care. Some CCRC’s offer a refund of a portion of the deposit if the senior deceases before a pre-set time.

Back to top



Memory loss, which can be in a variety of types. Alzheimer’s Disease is only one form of dementia, others types include: Huntington’s Disease, Pick’s Disease, Frontal Lobe Dementia, Frontotemporal Dementia, Lewy Body Disease, Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, Vascular Dementia, Parkinson’s Disease. Blood clots and brain tumors also may cause dementia.

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)

Written legal order stating that the patient does not want to be resuscitated. Hospice patients wishing to not have artificial life support typically will have a DNR.

Durable Medical Equipment (DME)

Reusable medical equipment such as walkers, wheelchairs and hospital beds. Medicare will pay for some DME, with doctor’s approval.

Back to top


Geriatric Care Manager

A professional trained to work with seniors, usually through graduate education in gerontology, social work or psychology. Professional organizations provide certification and licensing in some states but there are no nationwide standards. Care Managers interact with seniors and their family to develop and implement a plan of care to meet the senior’s medical and financial requirements.

Back to top


Long-term Care Insurance (LTCI)

Long-term care insurance is an insurance policy which may be privately purchased and typically pays for a certain amount of care per day for a certain amount of years for care either in the home or in a nursing facility. Policies vary widely and may be customized for each individual. Policy costs increase in connection with age and pre-existing medical conditions.

Back to top



Low-income seniors (typically with assets of $2,000.00 or less although this varies by state), qualify for this national USA health program which is jointly funded by states and the federal government. Because of this joint funding, coverage varies for each state and your local Department on Aging will be able to provide information on qualifications for coverage. The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 significantly changed the rules governing the treatment of asset transfer and home ownership transfer of nursing home residents, making it more difficult to transfer your assets into another person’s name in order to qualify for Medicaid coverage. The government wants to safeguard against paying for nursing home care for seniors who can afford to pay for this care themselves. At the same time, the government has built in asset-protection options for married couples to allow a spend-down to protect one from spousal poverty. An attorney in your state can advise you on the best approach.


Seniors age 65 and older and some disabled people under age 65 qualify for this national USA health insurance program administered by Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Medicare does not pay for long-term care.

Back to top


Non-medical Care

Care which does not require a Registered Nurse or Medical Doctor to administer their services. All Activities of Daily Living are considered non-medical care.

NPDA (National Private Duty Association)

The NPDA is a national association which sets a minimum level of standards for non-medical home care agencies to follow in order to qualify for membership. These standards include withholding payroll taxes, contributing to Worker’s Compensation Insurance, contributing to Unemployment Insurance, bonding employees and performing criminal background checks. NPDA seeks to enhance the strength and professionalism of private duty home care providers through education and development of best practices by developing core training and education programs and developing a political lobby to influence the regulatory environment of home care agencies nationwide.