Long Term Care Jargon

It Is Very Helpful To Know The Lingo

Selecting a long-term care provider is one of the most important and difficult decisions that you may be asked to make...either for yourself or for a member of your family. To make the best possible decision, you should have an understanding of how the industry speaks.

Commonly used terms may be new to you, or confusing. For example, Assisted Living offers housing, personal assistance, support services and health care, while focusing on autonomy, individual functioning and the maintaining of personal dignity. However, this care/service may also be known as: Residential Care, Board & Care, or Personal Care. In addition, it is often confused with Nursing Home care. Listed below are other terms that you may come upon when in the process of researching and choosing senior care.

Some term you should be aware of and understand:

  • Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) - Elements of an individual’s daily routine, including bathing, dressing, eating, toileting and continence. There are also Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL’s). These include housekeeping, laundry, shopping, and the preparation of meals.

  • Adult Daycare - Daytime rehabilitative services and social activities for someone living at home. Daycare services typically focus on the physically and/or mentally impaired elderly.

  • Ambulatory - Capable of demonstrating the mental competence and physical ability to leave a building (unassisted) in an emergency. For those not capable of this, the term is Non-Ambulatory.

  • Care Management - The assessing, arranging, and overseeing an individual’s healthcare routine by a trained professional.

  • Continence/Incontinence - Ability/inability to voluntarily control urinary and fecal discharge.

  • Discharge Planner - A staff member of a hospital or nursing home (often a licensed social worker) who develops a plan for the future care of a patient prior to the patient's discharge.

  • Home Health Care - Qualified nurses come to a person's home to provide medical, rehabilitation or personal services. There are three types of home health care that are based on the allocation of time: intermittent, shift and live-in.

  • Nursing Home - Medical facility for individuals who require skilled nursing care due to physical impairment, injuries or chronic illness. Also referred to as convalescent hospital.

  • Primary Caregiver - The individual who has the main responsibility for taking care of another person. Usually the person who makes the decisions, and organizes care and services.

  • Respite Care - Long-term care services provided on a temporary basis, usually to give a much needed break to the primary caregivers. Geriatric physicians, nurses, care managers (GCM's) and social workers specialize in managing and providing the care of the elderly.


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