When it comes to helping a parent or a loved one transition into life in assisted living, learning the language of this industry can be a challenge. There are so many different terms and types of assisted living facilities out there, that knowing what each living situation means can often be a challenge. One of the first things that every senior, and their loved ones should know before they pick a new assisted living facility is what some of these key terms actually mean. Knowing the ABC's of assisted living and some of these key caregiving terms can help any senior and their family easily navigate the waters of the world of senior living.
Assisted Living Facilities- While the phrase "assisted living" is typically used as a rather broad term, an assisted living facility is technically any type of housing option available for seniors who cannot live independently on their own.
Adult Day Care Centers- Much like day care centers for children, adult day care services are meant to provide care for seniors during the day when their primary caregiver cannot. Typically, seniors come in the morning and leave in the evening while receiving care, social engagement and even rehabilitation assistance during their time at the facility.
Aging in Place- This terms is used to describe seniors who prefer to remain in their home, even if they are aging at a pace that renders them unable to function independently.
Board and Care Homes- These assisted living communities offer the same type of services as large facilities, but typically take place in average single-family homes. This means while seniors can enjoy the same benefits as a large community, they are receiving care in a more intimate setting with only a handful of residents.
Caregiver- A caregiver is the primary person in charge of caring for an individual who cannot live independently on their own. A caregiver does not need to have any medical background.
Congregate Housing- A relatively independent living situation for seniors that also provides access to transportation, food and housekeeping services.
Continuing Care Retirement Community- This type of retirement community offers varying levels of care, all in one facility. This makes it easy for seniors to transition to different levels of care without having to move off site. Typically, these communities include independent living, assisted living and even medically-based care.
Convalescent Home- A care community where seniors can recover from an injury or illness in a short-term care setting.
For-Profit Assisted Living- There are both for-profit and non-profit assisted living facilities. For-profit communities are typically large chains of communities and are designed, as the name suggests, to earn a profit. They are often able to provide residents with great access to different amenities and features since they bring in more money.
Home Health Care- Home health care is medically-based care provided from a licensed professional that is given directly in the patient’s own home. This is specifically care that requires medical attention.
Hospice Care- Care that centers around providing comfort during the end of life. Hospice care can take place at any time during what is perceived to be a person's last six months of life. While the care can be medically-based, it is designed to help keep individuals comfortable instead of trying to cure their ailments. Hospice care can take place at home, in assisted living communities or in a hospital. Seniors can be moved on and off of hospice care.
Independent Living Facility- This type of community is meant for senior citizens who are physically and mentally able to live on their own, but who prefer to be in a community with their peers. These facilities cater to those who can care for themselves, but may still offer some services that can make life easier on seniors during this time in their lives.
Life Care Community- This is a specific type of continuing care retirement community, that offers all levels of care in an insurance-type contract setting. Regardless of medical needs, seniors typically pay the same in monthly fees no matter what they end up needing.
Long Term Care- Long term care is a relatively general term meant to describe the need for medical care or support services for an individual. This is typically meant to describe care given for several years at a time.
Non-Profit Assisted Living- As the name suggests, these assisted living communities are not meant to earn a profit and are typically religiously-based in some manner.
Nursing Assistant- A nursing assistant is a professional that provides personal care for residents residing in assisted living facilities. They typically work under a Registered Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse and help seniors with things such as bathing, dressing and using the restroom.
Nursing Home- A facility that provides 24-hour nursing care as well as room and board. Nursing homes are meant for long-term cases and must be fully licensed by the stat they subside in. Nursing homes can be Medicaid eligible and include regular medical supervision and rehabilitation therapy.
Palliative Care- Care for those suffering from serious, chronic and life-threatening illnesses. The goal is to provide pain relief instead of on curing the ailment. It is similar to but not the same as hospice or end-of-life care. Palliative care can start at any time during the course of the illness and typically includes physical, emotional, social and spiritual care.
Registered Nurse- A professional nurse who is licensed and able to develop and monitor care plans along with physicians. They can provide some types of in-home care and medical care for seniors in nursing homes or assisted living communities.
Residential Care Homes- These small senior living homes offer seniors personalized care in a small setting. Only a handful of seniors live in each home at a time and receive room and board as well as assistance with daily activities.
Respite Care- Relief care provided to caregivers when they need a break from their responsibilities. This care is typically provided in-home but can also be providing in assisted living facilities. Respite care is typically given for several hours or several days at a time.
Senior Apartments- These apartment complexes are meant for seniors, over the age of 55 who want to live with their peers but who don't need assistance in caring for themselves. Seniors who need help with daily activities and transportation will not be able to get the care they need in these communities.