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Glossary of Caregiving Terms

Care Providers

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
Personal care necessary for daily living such as oral hygiene, dressing, toileting, transferring between bed and chair, eating, and bathing.

Adult Day Care Services
A respite care service provided outside the home, designed to meet individual needs and support
independence and abilities.

Assisted Living Facilities
Residential housing that maximizes an individual’s ability to live independently and provides a lower level of assistance than that at a skilled nursing facility. Services may include 24 hour on-call assistance and help with personal and home care such as bathing, dressing, meals, and housekeeping.

The feeling of becoming overly frustrated and negative.

Care Advocate (Patient Advocate)
A person who helps guide a patient through the healthcare system.

Care Facility
There are different levels of care provided. The most common facilities are board and care homes, which provide a room, meals, personal care assistance, and supervision. Skilled nursing facilities provide the sameservices and round-the-clock nursing services.

Care Plan
A written action plan that contains the strategies for delivering care to address an individual’s needs and problems.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)
A housing community that provides different levels of care based on residents’ needs.

Custodial Care
Unskilled, personal care such as help with activities of daily living like bathing, dressing, eating, getting inand out of a bed or chair, moving around, and using the bathroom. Medicare does not pay for custodial care.

Home Health Care Agency
An organization that offers home care services such as skilled nursing care, physical therapy, occupational
therapy, speech therapy, and care by home health aides.

Home Health Care
Skilled nursing care and certain other health care you get in your home for the treatment of an illness or injury.

Home Health Care Aide / In-Home Care Provider
A person hired to help someone who needs assistance with dressing, grooming, bathing, cooking, eating, moving around, etc. Also referred to as attendants, in-home aides, caregivers, care providers, home health aides, homemakers, housekeepers, LVNs, live-ins, and nurse’s aides.

Home Delivered Meals (Meals on Wheels)
Hot, nutritious meals delivered to homebound persons who are unable to prepare their own meals and have no outside assistance.

To receive Medicare Home Health Care benefits, you must be homebound. This means you are generally unable to leave your home without assistance; however, you may leave for medical treatments or short, infrequent absences for non-medical reasons or for adult day care.

Hospice (Palliative Care)
A coordinated program of palliative and supportive care for individuals with terminal illness and their families. An interdisciplinary team of professionals and volunteers provides services in the patient’s place of residence or in an inpatient setting during the illness and period of bereavement.

Long-term Care
Extended care (usually outside the home) of an individual who is dependent on others for his/her needs.

Nursing Facility
An institutional setting that offers 24-hour supervision and care to individuals, usually older persons, who are no longer able to be responsible for themselves in an independent living setting.

Occupational Therapy (OT)
Needed if a patient has suffered an injury or illness that has affected perceptual motor skills or the ability to perform activities of daily living (ADL), such as dressing, bathing, toileting, eating or meal preparation. The occupational therapy program may consist of evaluation, ADL training, and adaptive equipment recommendations.

Physical Therapy (PT)
Needed if a patient has suffered an injury or illness that has affected motor skills or function. The physical therapy program may consist of evaluation, therapeutic exercises, gait training, adaptive equipment recommendations, massage, heat, cold or electrical treatments—all geared toward helping the patient attain his/her maximum functional motor potential.

Residential Care Homes / Board and Care Homes
A licensed residential care facilities for the elderly. A system of non medical custodial care which is usually provided for six or fewer residents housed in a private residential home setting.

Respite Care
Temporary or periodic care provided in a nursing home, assisted living residence, or other type of long-term care program so that the usual caregiver can rest or take some time off. Medicare pays for respite care only when it is related to hospice.

Senior Center
Can function as meal site, screening clinic, recreational center, social service office, mental health clinic, worker employment agency, volunteer coordinating center, and community meeting hall for older adults.

Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF)
A facility that is Medicare certified and provides skilled nursing care and/or skilled rehabilitation services and other related health services. You must meet certain conditions for Medicare to pay for this type of care after a Medicare-covered hospital stay of three days or longer.

Support Group
A formal gathering of persons sharing common interests and issues. The participants and facilitators share information and mutual support, and often exchange coping skills with one another.

Tuck-In Service
A service that makes contact with an at-risk individual to make sure that he or she is not in danger. This check is usually done in the evening and could be either a telephone call or a visit to the person’s home.


Advance Health Care Directive
An advance directive is a legal document. It specifies what kind of medical treatment you would like if your life is in danger and you can’t communicate. You have the right to give instructions about your own health care and to name someone else to make health care decisions for you. (Do not Resuscitate – DNR)

Durable Power of Attorney
A legal document that details the type of care you want (or don’t want) if you become incapacitated. Enables you to designate another person, called the attorney-in-fact, to act on your behalf if you become disabled or incapacitated.

All assets owned by the person receiving care.

Estate Planning
The process of planning for what will happen to an individual’s assets after death. This generally requires an attorney’s involvement. In some cases, planning for health care decisions may begin at this time.

A legal term for a person who is lawfully vested with the care of the property of and/or person who has been judged legally incompetent.

Living Will
A legal document also known as a medical directive or advance directive. It states your wishes regarding life support or other medical treatment in certain circumstances, usually when death is imminent.

Power of Attorney
A legal document that gives someone else the authority to make financial, legal, or health care decisions and transactions on one’s behalf.

The legal process that inherited property goes through to transfer the title of the property from the decedent to the beneficiary. If you have a estate with real property (real estate), it is often advantageous to set up a Trust, as it is usually far less expensive for the heirs when you die.

A way of transferring your property to an artificial legal entity or “person” (the Trust) before your death, while still having the use and/or control of it during your lifetime. The Trust owns the legal title to the property in it while you are still alive; and as a Trust does not end at your death, it will still own the property when you die. Only property owned by the deceased at the time of death has to go through the court process called “probate;” therefore, the property in the Trust can be distributed without going through the probate process.

A Will is a document that transfers property to others after your death. Because you still own the propertyat the time you die, all the property transferred in the Will must go through the probate process, which is often slow and costly.

Medical Insurance

Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO)
A type of Medicare managed care plan in which a group of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers agree to give health care to Medicare beneficiaries for a set amount of money from Medicare every month. Usually you must get your care from the providers in the plan.

Managed Care
Includes Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO), and other plans that provide health services on a prepayment basis, based either on cost or risk, depending on the type of contract they have with Medicare.

The Medicare Plan
A federal health insurance program (whose aim is to protect against health care costs, but does not cover all medical expenses/long term care) for:

  • People age 65 or older
  • People under age 65 with certain disabilities
  • People of all ages with permanent kidney failure, end-stage renal disease (ESRD)

Medicare Part A (Hospital Coverage)
Hospital insurance that pays for inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care. Most people are automatically eligible for Part A upon turning age 65. Most people don’t pay a Part A premium because they paid Medicare taxes while working. This is called “premium-free Part A.”

Medicare Part B (Outpatient Services)
Medicare medical insurance that helps pay for doctor services, outpatient hospital care, durable medical equipment, and some medical services that are not covered by Part A. You must choose to enroll in Part B, which requires payment of monthly premiums. If you don’t sign up for Part B when you are first eligible, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty.

Medicare Part C—Medicare Advantage Plan (Medigap—Medicare supplement Insurance)
A Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO) is another Medicare health plan choice you may have, offered by private companies approved by Medicare to help pay health care costs not covered in Part A and Part B. A Medicare supplement insurance policy sold by private insurance companies to fill “gaps” in Original Medicare Plan coverage. Except in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, there are 10 standardized plans labeled Plan A through Plan J. Medigap policies work only with the Original Medicare Plan.

Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage)
Medicare prescription drug coverage is insurance run by an insurance company or other private company approved by Medicare. You pay a monthly premium; and, like other insurance, if you decide not to enroll in a drug plan when first eligible, you will pay a penalty if you choose to join later.

Medicare Private Fee-for-Service Plan
A private insurance plan that accepts people with Medicare. The insurance plan, rather than the Medicare program, decides how much it will pay and what you will pay for the services you get.

A joint federal and state program that helps with medical costs for some people with low incomes and limited resources. Medicaid programs vary from state to state, but most health care costs are covered if you qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid.

Medigap Policy
Medicare supplement insurance sold by private insurance companies to fill “gaps” in Original Medicare coverage. Except in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, there are 12 standardized plans labeled Plan A through Plan L. Medigap policies work only with Original Medicare.