Glossary of Terms

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs):

The things we normally do in daily living including any daily activity we perform for self-care such as feeding ourselves, bathing, dressing, grooming, work, homemaking, and leisure. The ability or inability to perform ADLs can be used as a very practical measure of ability/disability in many disorders.

Administrator (Health Facility Administrator):

A licensed professional who manages the day-to-day operations of a Skilled Nursing Facility.

Alzheimer’s Disease:

A degenerative, age-related disease that impairs an individual's cognitive ability. Symptoms may include forgetfulness, memory loss, wandering, and an inability to recognize others or make good judgments. Both genetic and environmental factors likely play a role in the development of Alzheimer's Disease.

Assisted Living Facility (ALF):

Assisted living communities are designed to provide residents with assistance with basic Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) such as bathing, grooming, dressing, laundry, and medication reminders. Some ALFs provide medical services as needed and often for an extra fee. Services and fees vary from facility to facility.


Anyone who assists with the increasing needs of a loved one or friend. Caregivers who provide care for a loved one in their home often need respite care to maintain their own physical and emotional well-being.

Certified Nurse Assistant (CNAs):

A Certified Nurse Assistant provides the most personal care to residents, including bathing, dressing, and toileting. They must be trained, tested, and certified to provide care in nursing facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. CNAs work under the supervision of a Registered Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse.

Cognitive Impairment:

While a small loss of cognitive ability is expected as we age, cognitive impairment is a level of loss beyond that which is expected in the natural aging process. Diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s are common forms of cognitive impairment in the aging community.

Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC):

Housing planned and operated to provide a continuum of accommodations and services for seniors including, but not limited to, Independent Living, Assisted Living, and skilled nursing care. A CCRC resident contract often involves either an entry fee or buy-in fee in addition to the monthly service charges, which may change according to the medical services required.


Dementia is a syndrome that denotes a loss in cognitive ability brought on by a brain injury or degenerative disorder. Alzheimer’s disease is a common form of dementia. Memory care units offer relief and care for aging individuals who suffer from dementia.

Director of Nursing (DON):

A DON oversees all nursing staff in a nursing home and is responsible for formulating nursing policies and monitoring the quality of care delivered, as well as the facility's compliance with federal and state regulations pertaining to nursing care.

Home Health Care:

Providing medial and nursing services in an individual's home by a licensed practitioner.

Hospice Care:

Hospice care is a medical specialty geared toward making terminally ill patients as comfortable as possible in their last days of life. It can include direct nursing care, counseling and bereavement services for the family. It is often provided through a hospice provider in a person’s home or as a contracted vendor within a Skilled Nursing Facility.

Independent Living:

Independent Living can refer either to seniors who live on their own in their own residence, or those who live in active adult communities. Elderly individuals who live independently are generally healthy and often need little if any assistance with activities of daily living. An Independent Living community may provide supportive services such as meals, housekeeping, social activities and transportation.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN):

LPNs are trained to administer technical nursing procedures as well as provide a range of health care services including administration of medication and changing of dressings.

Living Trust:

A legal document created while an individual is still alive that tells a person called a trustee how to distribute a person’s property.

Living Will:

A legal document that state’s a person’s wishes for end-of-life health care.

Long-Term Care:

Within a Skilled Nursing Facility, Long-Term Care is care provided to a resident who has made the facility their home. They receive nursing care, assistance with activities of daily living and social services as needed on a daily basis.


Medicaid is a government-sponsored health insurance assistance program that offers benefits to individuals with limited financial resources, the disabled, and the elderly. There are income eligibility criteria which must be met to qualify for Medicaid. The person must have exhausted nearly all assets and be in a Medicaid certified Skilled Nursing Facility. Medicaid can reimburse Skilled Nursing Facilities for the long-term care of qualified seniors.

Medical Director:

A staff medical director assumes overall responsibility for the formulation and implementation of all policies related to medical care. The medical director also coordinates with an individual's personal physician to ensure that the facility delivers the care that is prescribed. In some instances, the medical director may be a resident's primary physician.


Medicare is a government-sponsored health insurance program open to all senior citizens aged 65 or older and some younger people based on disability. Part A of Medicare covers hospital and doctor expenses, as well as hospice and temporary skilled nursing needs. Part B benefits are available for an additional monthly premium and cover things like mobility aids and durable medical equipment.


Inability to walk around, and usually means bedridden or hospitalized.


Status of ownership and/or operation characterized by government by community-based boards of trustees who are all volunteers. Board members donate their time and talents to ensure that a not-for-profit organization's approach to caring for older people responds to local needs. Not-for-profit homes and services turn any surplus income back into improving or expanding services for their clients or residents.

Occupational Therapy:

Therapeutic discipline that focuses on patients’ independence with activities of daily living including bathing, eating, dressing, self-care and home management tasks. Occupational Therapists also address safety awareness and fall prevention education.

Physical Therapy:

Process that includes individualized programs of exercise to improve physical mobility, often administered following a stroke, fall, or accident. Physical Therapists plan and administer prescribed physical therapy treatment programs for residents in order to help restore their function and strength.

Registered Nurse (RN):

Graduate trained nurse who has both passed a state board examination and is licensed by a state agency to practice nursing. The RN plans for resident care by assessing resident needs, developing and monitoring care plans in conjunction with physicians, as well as executing highly technical, skilled nursing treatments.


Therapeutic services for people requiring physical, occupational, or speech therapy.

Respite Care:

Respite care is a much-needed service for caregivers that provides temporary relief from caregiver duties. This service can range from several hours to months. This service is usually available in-home or at a skilled nursing facility. Caregivers who provide care for a loved one in their home often need respite care to maintain their own physical and emotional well-being.

Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF):

A facility licensed by the state that provides 24-hour nursing care, rehabilitation services, room and board, and activities for both short-term and long-term residents.

Speech Therapy:

Focus on improvement of functional communication and cognitive skills of patients. Speech therapists monitor and modify swallowing techniques and introduce diet modifications and special feeding techniques when necessary for patients who have decreased abilities in these areas.