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Caregiving Glossary

Common terms used when caring for a loved one

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

A law that requires some employers to let you take unpaid time off work (up to 12 weeks) for illness, having or adopting a baby, or caring for an ill family member. Your job or an equivalent is guaranteed when you return. If you work for a small employer or are a new employee, you may not be able to get the leave.

Family Caregiver

Anyone who provides unpaid assistance to another person who is ill, disabled or needs help with daily activities.

Geriatric Care Manager

A professional who performs an assessment of a person’s mental, physical, environmental and financial conditions to create a care plan to assist in arranging housing, medical, social and other services.


A person appointed by the court who is responsible for the care and management of another person who has been determined to be incapable of making decisions for him- or herself.

Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPA, or Health Care Proxy)

A special kind of durable power of attorney in which you appoint another person to make health care decisions should you become unable to do so.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

A federal law that gives you rights over your health information and sets rules and limits on who can look at and receive your health information. It also permits the release of personal health information needed for patient care.

Home-Delivered Meals

Regular delivery of nutritious meals to homebound people who are unable to prepare food for themselves.

Home Health Agency (HHA)

An agency often certified by Medicare to provide health-related services in the home, such as nursing, occupational, speech or physical therapy, social work or personal care.

Home Health Aide

An individual who helps with bathing, dressing, grooming, meals and light housekeeping.

Homemaker Services

A service that provides assistance with general household activities, such as meal preparation, cleaning, laundry and shopping.

Hospice Care

Professionally coordinated support services, including pain and symptom management, social services, and emotional and spiritual support for terminally ill people and their families. The care is provided at home and in other settings.

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