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Long-Term Care Glossary

Trouble understanding all the vocabulary in planning for long-term care? Our glossary can help.

ACTIVITIES OF DAILY LIVING (ADLs) – Basic functional tasks of everyday life that include walking, dressing, bathing, eating, toileting, and getting out of a bed or chair.

ADULT DAY SERVICES – Medical, social, and recreation services provided to people over several hours, usually during the day and in a community setting. Provided most often as assistance to working caregivers, but people needing services can participate on their own.

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

COMPANIONSHIP SERVICES – A variety of services including home supervision, telephone reassurance, and friendly visitors.

CUSTODIAL CARE – Help and supervision with Activities of Daily Living such as dressing, eating, and bathing, but not medical services.

DEMENTIA – Deterioration of cognitive ability usually characterized by memory loss, personality change, and impaired judgment. Common causes include Alzheimer’s disease and stroke.

DISCHARGE PLANNER – A professional who assists patients and their families in developing a patient's plan of care following a hospital or nursing home stay.

ELECTRONIC/REMOTE DISEASE MANAGEMENT – Companies that use mobile technology and artificial intelligence to monitor and help people manage chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

GERIATRIC CARE MANAGER – A professional who performs an assessment of a person's mental, physical, environmental, and financial condition in order to create a plan of support. This could include arranging for housing or medical, social, and other services.

HEALTH-CARE POWER OF ATTORNEY – A kind of power of attorney in which individuals appoint another person—such as a spouse, adult child, friend, or faith leader—to make health-care decisions should they become unable to do so. Also called health-care proxy.

HEALTH-INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (HIT) – Computerized health records that can include automatic prescription management, clinical alerts, and reminders.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES – Long-term care services such as chores, personal care, home-delivered meals, home-health care, and adult day centers. Provided in the home or in a community setting.

HOME-DELIVERED MEALS – Regular delivery of nutritious meals—such as Meals on Wheels—to homebound individuals who are unable to prepare food for themselves due to disability or illness.

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-HEALTH AIDE – An individual who helps with bathing, dressing, grooming, meal assistance, and light housekeeping.

HOMEMAKER SERVICES – A service that assists with general household duties such as meal preparation, cleaning, laundry, and shopping.

HOSPICE CARE – Professionally coordinated support services that include pain and symptom management; social services; and emotional and spiritual support for people who are terminally ill as well as for their families. Provided at home and in other settings.

LIVING WILL – A legal document that communicates wishes about lifesaving medical treatments in the event a person has a terminal condition and is unable to communicate health-care directives.

MEDICAID – The federal and state health care and long-term care insurance program for specific groups of people—such as older adults, children, and pregnant women—with limited income and assets. Under federal guidelines, each state designs and runs its own program, so eligibility criteria and covered services vary from state to state.
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