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Caregiving Glossary

Common terms used when caring for a loved one

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)

Basic tasks of everyday life that include dressing, bathing, eating, transferring (for example, from bed to chair) and toileting.

See also: Everything you need to know about caregiving.

Adult Day Services

Structured, comprehensive programs — including a variety of health, social and related support services during any part of the day, but for less than 24 hours — provided at local centers for adults who need some supervision or support.

Adult Protective Services

A public agency that investigates reports of abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults; usually works with law enforcement. Immediate dangerous situations should be directed to 911 or local police.

Area Agency on Aging (AAA) or Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC)

An agency designated by the state with the responsibility for planning and coordinating services for older people (AAA) or for older people and adults with disabilities (ADRC) within a specific geographical area. Both agencies provide information, resources, assistance and links to community services.

Assisted Living Residences

Housing for those who may need help living independently, but do not need skilled nursing care. The level of assistance varies among residences and may include help with bathing, dressing, meals and housekeeping.

Community Meal Program

Balanced, nutritious meals served at community locations for those ages 60 and over and their younger-age spouses.


A person appointed by a court to handle someone’s affairs when that person cannot handle them him- or herself. A conservator usually handles only financial affairs.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities

Housing that offers a variety of living options and services, including independent living, assisted living and skilled care, often all on the same campus, and designed to meet a person’s changing needs.

Discharge Planner

A professional who assists patients and their families in developing a plan of care for a patient following a hospital or nursing home stay.

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order

An order written by a doctor to fulfill a patient’s expressed medical care wishes during a medical emergency.

Durable Power of Attorney for Finances

A legal document that allows a person to give authority to someone else to make financial decisions on his or her behalf. The designation “durable” means that it will stay in effect if the person becomes unable to manage his or her own financial affairs.

Extra Help

An assistance program for people with Medicare who need help paying their part of the costs of Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage.

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