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Herald Journal Guides
Senior Citizens Resources Guide

Glossary of common terms

Acute care: care that is usually given during a short period of time to treat a certain illness or
condition.

Adult day care: a community-based program for functionally impaired adults during the day that
services in a protective setting.

Adult care home: (also called board and care home or group home): residence which offers
housing and personal care services for 3 to 16 residents. Services (such as meals, supervision, and transportation) are usually provided by the owner or manager. May be single family home. (Licensed as adult family home or adult group home.)

Advance directive: a term that refers instructions given ahead of time about medical emergencies if seniors are unable to speak for themselves at the time.  There are two types of advance directives: a living will and a medical power of attorney.  Each state regulates the use of advance directives
differently. Two examples of advance directives include instructions about hospice care if terminal
illness is diagnosed, or a "do not resuscitate" order in the event of a medical emergency.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA): a federal law that prohibits employers with 20 or more employees from discriminating on the basis of age in hiring, job retention, compensation, and benefits. ADEA also sets requirements for the duration of employer-provided disability benefits.

Assisted Living: a generic term for any living arrangement whereby an elder pays a fee to share common amenities, such as the grounds and dining and recreational facilities, and to have essential services available nearby.  Usually these facilities are also more secure than living alone. This can include group homes, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and hospital wards. Residents typically have private locking rooms and bathrooms. Personal care services are available on a 24-hours-a-day basis.

Alzheimer's Disease: (Dementia) a progressive, irreversible disease characterized by degeneration of the brain cells. Symptoms include loss of memory, causing the individual to become dysfunctional and dependent upon others for basic living needs.

Board and care home (also referred to as an adult care home, or group home): residence which offers housing and personal care services from three to 16 residents. Services (such as meals, supervision, and transportation) are usually provided by the owner or manager. May be single family home. 

Caregiver: person who provides support and assistance with various activities to a family member, friend, or neighbor.

Congregate housing: individual apartments that may offer extra services, such as a daily meal with other tenants. (Other services may be included as well.) Buildings usually have some common areas, such as a dining room and lounge, as well as additional safety measures such as emergency call buttons. May be rent-subsidized (known as Section 8 housing).

Continuing care retirement community: communities that offer many levels of care that can accommodate changes in a resident's basic needs, which are located together within proximity of each other. Provide residential services (such as meals, housekeeping, laundry), social and recreational services, health care services, personal care, and nursing care. Require payment of a monthly fee and possibly a large lump-sum entrance fee.

Chronic care: care and treatment given to individuals whose health problems are long-term.

Community-based services: services designed to help seniors remain independent and in their own homes; can include senior centers, transportation, delivered meals or congregate meals site, visiting nurses or home health aides, adult day care, and homemaker services.

Concierge Services: many seniors want assistance in keeping a healthier, safer, and happier lifestyle.  Examples include a bill-payer service, telephone reassurances, delivery service, and handling appointments not only for visits to the doctor but also for personal grooming, pet care, and home delivery of products and services. 
 
Dementia: term that describes several diseases, which are marked by memory loss and other declines in mental functioning (such as Alzheimer's).

Drug Utilization Review: a process whereby a variety of medications the elder takes ­ everything from over-the-counter products and herbal remedies to prescriptions ­ are examined to see if they interact with each other in ways which cause bad side effects or alter the effectiveness of the medication. 

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA): Passed in 1993, this federal law requires any firm with over 50 employees to allow an employee to take up to 12 weeks per year of unpaid leave to care for a family
member, such as a frail senior. Further, the employer must maintain an employee's group health insurance benefits while taking FMLA leave and must reinstate the employee in the same job upon returning from FMLA leave.
 
First Responders: a term given to those who received state training for a first responder's license. This usually entails police and fire personnel, para-medics, ambulance attendants, and emergency medical technicians. 

Hospice: a place where trained professionals, volunteers, and family members provide comfort and support to terminally ill seniors and their families. It neither prolongs life nor hastens death. 

Home health aide: a person who, under the supervision of a home health or social service agency, assists elderly, ill or disabled person with household chores, bathing, personal care, and other daily living needs. Social service agency personnel are sometimes called personal care aides.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): federal health insurance legislation passed in 1996, which sets standards for access, portability, and renewability that apply to group coverage ­ both fully insured and self-funded ­ as well as to individual coverage. HIPAA allows under specified conditions, for long-term care insurance policies to be qualified for certain tax benefits under Section 7702(b) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Independent living: rental units in which services are not included as part of the rent, although services may be available on site and may be purchased by residents for an additional fee.

Indigent care: health services provided to the poor or those unable to pay. Since many indigent patients are not eligible for federal or state programs, the costs are covered by Medicaid

In-home caregiver: refers to a professional caregiver who comes in to assist the elder a few hours a day, either every day or several times a week. 

Living Will: (sometimes called an advance directive), refers to the written wishes of person in the case of serious health emergency. 

Medical power of attorney: (a form of advance directive), is written instructions that appoint someone to make decisions about the senior's medical care, when that person can't. 

Nursing home: facility licensed by the state to offer residents personal care as well as skilled nursing care on a 24-hour basis. Provides nursing care, personal care, room and board, supervision, medication, therapies and rehabilitation.

Older Americans Act (OAA): federal legislation that specifically addresses the needs of older adults in the United States. Provides some funding for aging services (such as home-delivered meals, congregate meals, senior center, employment programs). Creates the structure of federal, state, and local agencies that oversee aging services programs.

Respite care: service in which trained staff or volunteers come into the home to provide short-term care (from a few hours to a few days) for the senior. This allows caregivers, who are prone to becoming burned out, to obtain some time away from their caregiving role.

Senility: the decline in mental functioning as the condition of the aging progresses.

Skilled care: a higher level of care, which includes injections, catheterizations, and dressing changes given by trained medical people.

Skilled nursing care: daily nursing and rehabilitative care that can be performed only by or under the supervision of, skilled medical personnel.
Glossary (cont.)
Skilled nursing facility (SNF): facility that is certified by Medicare to provide 24-hour nursing care and rehabilitation services in addition to other medical services. (See also nursing home.)

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): a system of federally provided payments to eligible workers (and, in some cases, their families) when they are unable to continue working because of a disability.

Subacute care: short-term care provided by some long-term care facilities and hospitals which may include rehabilitation services, specialized care for certain conditions (for example, diabetes) and/or post-surgical care and other services associated with the transition between the hospital and home.

Senior Citizens Guide

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