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Help for adults caring for an aging parent or loved oneTerms & Definitions

There are a lot of new words used in the field of eldercare. This is a list of commonly used terms that describe levels of care, community services, and legal matters. We hope you find it helpful.



Activities of Daily Living
Adult Day Care
Advance Directives
Assisted Living
At-Home Services
Community Based Services

Durable Medical Equipment
Durable Power of Attorney
Durable Power of Attorney Health Care
Eldercare
Eldercare Specialist

Geriatric Assessment

Home Health Aide
Homemaker Services
Hospice Care
Independent Living
Living Will
Medicaid
Medicare
Residential Care Facility I Dementia
Residential Care Facility II
Respite Care
Skilled Care
Skilled Nursing

Caregiver Terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
    Those activities necessary to maintain independent living, such as feeding, dressing, toileting, and bathing.

  • Adult Day Care
    Adult day care offers socialization during the day that includes activities, field trips, and meals. Many centers provide transportation to and from the center. This is an excellent and affordable way to provide loved ones with quality care, while giving caregivers time away.

  • Advanced Directives
    Allows you to express wishes in advance to let physicians and other health care providers know what medical treatments are acceptable in the event you are unable to communicate your wishes.

  • Assisted Living
    A living arrangement in which people with special needs, especially seniors with disabilities, reside in a facility that provides help with everyday tasks such as bathing, dressing, and taking medication. This is often referred to as a Resident Care Facility (RCF I or II).

  • At-Home Services 
    Assistance available to older adults who reside in a variety of living arrangements designed to help with the activities of daily life. Such services range from assistance with bathing and dressing to home cleaning, laundry and meal preparation. Some may also escort a person to medical appointments and assist with medication management and more.
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  • Community Based Services
    Cost effective, quality care or services, in the least restrictive environment, that enables people to stay within their own home and community; that enhances quality of life; and supports individuals chosen lifestyle.

  • Dementia
    The loss of intellectual functions (such as memory deficit or confusion) that interfere with daily living. There are many causes for dementia and some of these may be reversible such as drug reactions and nutritional deficiencies.  Other causes of dementia are not reversible such as Alzheimer's disease which is the most common type of dementia.  To accurately determine the cause of dementia and provide optimal treatment, the older person needs a thorough geriatric assessment performed by a physician with input from family members.

  • Durable Medical Equipment
    An item that can withstand repeated use, is used for medical purposes, and for an illness or injury in the home. These include walkers, shower curtains, shower chairs and raised toilet seats.

  • Durable Power of Attorney
    Gives power to another to make legal or financial decisions such as handling investments, paying bills, contracting for nursing services and/or other living arrangements or care. The powers can be narrow or broad. To make this legally binding you should seek the advice of an attorney.

  • Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care 
    Gives power to another to make medical and other healthcare decisions if you are incapacitated.

  • Eldercare 
    A business industry that provides services or products that directly or indirectly impacts the lives of the older adult population.
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  • Eldercare Specialist 
    A degreed professional who specializes in aging related issues and assists older adults and their family members by assessing their needs and identifying the best services and care available to meet those needs.

  • Geriatric Assessment
    Many older people experience multiple medical problems, frequent falls, memory and functional problems. Evaluations are needed to determine the patient's strengths and problems, so that resources can be identified and used to promote as much independence, safety, and lifestyle satisfaction as possible. A thorough care plan is provided upon completion of the assessment.

  • Home Health Aide 
    Provides assistance with personal care such as bathing, dressing, toileting, walking, etc. These services are generally not covered by insurance.

  • Homemaker Services 
    Provides assistance with light housekeeping, meal planning and preparation, laundry, eliminating safety hazards, accompanying to appointments, running errands and grocery shopping. These services are generally not covered by insurance.

  • Hospice Care 
    For those who have a terminal illness and require 24-hour care, hospice addresses the medical, emotional and spiritual needs of both the patient and family.
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  • Independent Living 
    A living arrangement that maximizes independence and self-determination through a "community" environment which allows one to be on their own while still having a network of support nearby.

  • Living Will/Health Care Directive 
    A document in which a person states his/her wishes regarding medical treatment. In Missouri, these documents become effective when the individual is incapacitated.

  • Medicaid
    A government program, which provides certain health and long term care services for low-income people. The person must financially qualify based on monthly income and assets. This program then allows the person to receive medical treatment both in and out of hospitals.

  • Medicare
    A federal health insurance. It covers a portion of your hospital and doctor bills. When you apply for Social Security at full retirement age, you're automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A (free hospital insurance). You may choose to sign up for Medicare Part B (medical insurance). A monthly premium for Part B will be deducted from your benefit check unless low income entitles you to Qualified Medicare Beneficiary aid.

  • Residential Care Facility I 
    Provides 24-hour care, shelter and protective oversight which may include the storage and distribution of medications during a short-term illness or recuperation.
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  • Residential Care Facility II 
    Provides additional services, such as supervision of diets, assistance with personal care, housekeeping, social and recreational programs and care during a short-term illness or recuperation and supervision of health care under the direction of a licensed physician. This type of facility is designed for the semi-independent resident able to walk alone or with the help of a cane, walker or crutch.

  • Respite Care 
    Short-term stay in a nursing facility to permit the family/caregiver some rest. Sometimes, this time away from home allows the care recipient an opportunity to socialize, participate in mentally stimulating recreational activities and make new friends.

  • Skilled Care 
    Care needed by a registered nurse such as injections, medication administration, etc., or requires the skilled services of occupational and physical therapists, speech pathologist and/or social workers. Generally, skilled care is covered through Medicare, Medicaid and other insurance.

  • Skilled Nursing
    An extended care facility, which provides skilled nursing care or rehabilitation services for residents on a daily basis.