key concepts

Glossary of Senior Living Terms

If you’re fairly new to the world of senior living, assisted living, and memory care, it can seem a little overwhelming. We understand! That’s why we put together this resource to help get you started. Below, you’ll find a glossary of key terms related to our industry, as well as, an index describing the various levels of senior living communities and care.

Accreditation

Accreditation is an official “approval” given by an independent governing body to a senior living community and/or their staff, showing that they provide senior care, assisted living, and memory care up to very high standards. Examples include the Nursing Center Care (NCC) Accreditation program, administered by the Joint Commission.

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)

Activities of daily living (ADLs) refer to normal day-to-day living tasks related to self-care and maintenance. These include eating, dressing, bathing, using the toilet, grooming, taking medication as prescribed, and others.

Activities Director or Program Director

The Activities Director plans and oversees all on-site and off-site activities offered by a senior living community. Their role includes ensuring there are plenty of activities to provide an engaging, vibrant lifestyle to residents with a wide range of ages, backgrounds, physical and cognitive abilities, and preferences.

Advanced Health Care Directive

This is another term for a living will. An Advanced Health Care Directive is a legal document that lays out someone’s wishes and decisions relating to life-saving procedures and devices. They’re used when an injury or terminal illness makes a person unable to decide, or communicate their decisions, on their own.

Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. It’s a disease that causes problems with behavior, thinking, and memory. It usually develops gradually, getting worse and worse slowly, over time. There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s right now, but research is ongoing, and there are treatments available for its symptoms.

Assessments

A senior living assessment involves a qualified professional, often a registered nurse (RN), carefully assessing their residents to keep an accurate, detailed, and up-to-date account of their current health, care needs, ability to perform ADLs, and more. These assessments identify specific services needed and guide each resident’s individual care plan which lay out all health care, medication, assisted living services and other recommendations to help ensure a successful lifestyle in a senior living community setting.

Caregiver

A caregiver is a trained, health care professional who provides personalized care to people who are disabled, aged, or ill. Caregivers do not require any additional training.

CNA

A certified nursing assistant, or CNA, is a trained, certified health care professional who provides personalized care to people who are disabled, aged, or ill. A certified nursing assistant helps patients or clients with healthcare needs under the supervision of a nurse.

Deficiency-Free Survey

A deficiency-free survey shows that all of the services and facilities a senior living community provides meet or exceed all federal and state standards, as decided by a government-approved inspector. This proves that residents get only the highest levels of care in a vibrant, engaging environment.

Dementia

Dementia is a broad term for a set of symptoms that interfere with someone’s reasoning, judgment, and memory enough to interfere with normal daily living or their ability to perform ADLs. Dementia is not a normal part of the natural aging process, and it always has a root cause.

Durable Power of Attorney (POA)

Durable power of attorney is a legal term for choosing a capable adult or adults, generally a family member or very close friend, who will take legal control over a person’s affairs if they become physically or mentally unable to manage themselves. It’s a legally binding document drafted by a lawyer. Affairs can include health care and medical treatments, finances and estate management, and more.

Executive Director

The Executive Director is in charge of the overall operations of the senior living community. The Executive Director oversees everything from staffing and personnel to facilities management, financial health, quality of care, resident activities, and more.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs)

Instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) are an extension of ADLs. Rather than being key for basic daily living like ADLs are, IADLs are not fully necessary. Instead, IADLs are important activities like paying bills, transportation, cooking, cleaning, shopping, care of pets, and other activities that allow a resident to live within an independent living community.

Living Will

A living will is a legal document that lays out someone’s wishes and decisions relating to life-saving procedures and devices. They’re used when an injury or terminal illness makes a person unable to decide, or communicate their decisions, on their own. An “advanced health care directive” is simply another term for a living will.

Wills

Wills are signed and witnessed (notarized) legal documents that detail how someone’s property will be divided up and given to family members and friends at the time of the person’s death.

Living Trust

A living trust is a fund of money set aside, along with legal documentation, to ensure private property is managed a certain way, without court involvement, if the individual is incapacitated or passes away. These are more expensive to set up than wills, but will allow control over what happens to someone’s property after they’re gone, without private details of the estate becoming public.