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Glossary of Common Long-Term Care
and Senior Living Terms

This glossary provides straightforward explanations of terms frequently encountered in the context of long-term care and senior living. If you need further detail on any term or additional terms, please let us know!

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)

Basic personal care tasks such as bathing, dressing, eating, and using the toilet. These activities are essential for daily self-care and independence. A means of describing the functional status of a person. ADLs do not include cognitive (thinking/processing) abilities – this is a separate function.

  • Basic ADLs: Bathing, feeding, going to the toilet, dressing, grooming, taking meds
  • Mobility ADLs: Being able to get out of the house on their own and to travel, be able to walk and to get up out of and into a chair without assistance.
  • Instrumental ADLs: Cooking, shopping, housework, transportation
  • Cognitive: based on abilities to be aware of time/number, place, person, and self (Note – most LTC policies are based on the BASIC ADLs and cognitive abilities)

Aging in place

The concept of remaining in the same physical location when additional services are required or requested.

Adult Day Care

A program that offers supervision, social activities, and health services during the day for seniors who need assistance but live at home.

Assisted Living Facility (ALF)

A residential option for seniors who need help with some ADLs but do not require the intensive medical and nursing care provided in a nursing home.

Care Plan

A detailed plan created by healthcare professionals outlining the medical, personal, and social care needs of an individual.

Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)

A community that offers multiple levels of care (independent living, assisted living, and nursing home care) in one location, allowing residents to age in place.

Custodial Care

Non-medical care that helps individuals with ADLs. This type of care is often provided by aides or caregivers rather than medical professionals.


A group of symptoms affecting memory, thinking, and social abilities severely enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia.

Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA)

A legal document that designates someone to make financial and/or healthcare decisions on behalf of another person if they become unable to do so.

Geriatric Care Manager

A professional who assesses, plans, coordinates, and monitors services for older adults and their families.

Home Health Care

Medical and non-medical services provided at home to support individuals with chronic conditions, disabilities, or recovering from illness or surgery.

Hospice Care

A type of care focused on providing comfort and support to individuals with terminal illnesses, emphasizing pain management and emotional support rather than curative treatment.

Independent Living

Housing designed for seniors who are able to live independently but want access to services, amenities, and social activities.

Long-Term Care Insurance

A type of insurance designed to cover the costs of long-term care services, including home care, assisted living, and nursing home care.


A joint federal and state program that helps with medical costs for some people with limited income and resources. It also offers benefits not normally covered by Medicare, including long-term care.


A federal health insurance program for people aged 65 and older, and for some younger people with disabilities. It does not typically cover long-term care.

Memory Care

A specialized type of long-term care designed to meet the needs of individuals with Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia.

Nursing Home

A facility that provides 24-hour medical care and assistance with ADLs for individuals with serious health conditions or disabilities.

Respite Care

Temporary care provided to give a primary caregiver a break. This can be provided at home, in a healthcare facility, or in an adult day care center.

Senior Living Community

A residential community designed specifically for older adults, offering various levels of care, services, and social opportunities.

Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF)

A healthcare facility that provides high-level medical care and rehabilitation services by trained healthcare professionals.

Social Security

A federal program that provides retirement, disability, and survivors benefits to eligible Americans. It can also provide a source of income for older adults.

Special Needs Trust

A legal arrangement that allows a person with disabilities to receive income without losing eligibility for the public assistance benefits they are entitled to.


The use of digital information and communication technologies to access healthcare services remotely and manage healthcare.

Veterans Affairs (VA) Benefits

Benefits provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to eligible veterans, which can include healthcare services, financial assistance, and long-term care.

Wheelchair Accessibility

Modifications or features in homes, facilities, and transportation to accommodate individuals who use wheelchairs, ensuring ease of movement and access.