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Home and Community Glossary

Understanding the terminology you need to assess your home and community.

ELDERCARE LOCATOR – A nationwide public service that links older adults and caregivers to local information and services available in communities across the country.

FAIR HOUSING ACT – A federal law that makes it illegal for all housing providers — including property owners, landlords, housing managers, neighborhood and condominium associations, real estate agents, and brokerage service agencies — to discriminate based on race or color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability.

GROUP HOME – Housing occupied by two or more single people or families and consisting of common space or facilities for group use by the occupants. This setting can also include support in the form of meals, transportation and personal care.

HOME-CARE SERVICES – Assistance with personal care — such as bathing or getting dressed — provided by agencies and individuals to people in their homes.

HOME HEALTH CARE – Health-related services such as nursing; social work; occupational, speech or physical therapy; and personal care provided in the home. Usually for patients recovering from an acute illness or chronic debilitating conditions.

HOME MODIFICATIONS – Any alterations that make a house more livable for its residents.

INFORMATION-AND-ASSISTANCE SPECIALISTS – Trained professionals who help with identifying needs, information and connections to local resources and services.

LIVABLE COMMUNITY – A neighborhood or village consisting of affordable and appropriate housing, adequate mobility options, and supportive community features that meet residents' requirements to be safe and comfortable in their homes and in transit.

LOW-INCOME HOUSING TAX CREDIT – A U.S. tax code incentive providing alternate funding for housing for low- and moderate-income people. Each state receives a tax credit per person for new construction or for acquisition and rehabilitation of affordable housing.

MANUFACTURED HOUSING – A type of structure — also known as prefabricated housing — that is largely assembled in a factory and then transported to a home site.

NATURALLY OCCURRING RETIREMENT COMMUNITY (NORC) – Occurs by default when the population living in the same neighborhood for decades has aged as a group. By extension, NORC also applies to a geographic area with a large proportion of older residents.

NEIGHBORHOOD STABILIZATION PROGRAM – A federal program providing emergency assistance to state and local governments to acquire and redevelop foreclosed properties.

NURSING HOME – A facility that provides skilled health care and rehabilitation services to people with illnesses, injuries or disabilities. Residents often need extensive 24-hour care. Such homes typically administer medicines and provide meals, medical care and personal care.

REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS AND MODIFICATIONS – A specification of the Fair Housing Act that requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations and modifications — or changes to policies, rules and practices — so that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy their homes.

SECTION 202 HOUSING – A federal program offering affordable housing designed for older adults with limited incomes. Section 202 also offers rental assistance to people who qualify based on a resident's adjusted gross income.

SENIOR APARTMENTS – Age-restricted apartments at all price ranges, typically available to people 55 and older. Many are designed to be accessible, include transportation services, and offer recreational and social services.

SENIOR CENTERS – Community facilities that offer older people meals, recreation, classes, information and referral services, volunteer opportunities, employment services, public-benefits counseling, and more.

SENIOR REAL ESTATE SPECIALIST (SRES) – An education-based designation for realtors who can address the needs of home buyers 50 and older.

UNIVERSAL DESIGN – Products and environments that are usable by everyone, regardless of age or ability. The concept includes interior features and products that make homes safer and more comfortable for all residents.

VISITABILITY – A movement to change construction practices so that all new homes are built with accessibility features, such as zero-step entrances into the home, 32-inch wide doorways for easy passage and at least a half bathroom on the first floor.

VILLAGE MODEL – An ideal prototype design for a community-membership organization run by a small staff and volunteers who coordinate services for the residents. With these services, which include transportation and home repairs, residents 50 and older can more easily remain within their lifelong communities as they age.


This article is part of a new AARP campaign to educate women about long-term care planning. AARP advocates nationally and at the state level to improve access to affordable long-term care options.


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