Glossary of Assisted Living Terms

BooksAssisted living

Activities of Daily Living (ADL)

Activities of Daily Living, also known as “ADLs” are the day-to-day activitieswe do sustain ourselves, such as eating, drinking, bathing, toileting, dressing, and grooming. The appropriate care type for senior seeking senior living islargely based on the amount and degree of assistance with ADLs required.

Adult Day Center

Also called Adult Day Services, Adult Day Care, or Adult Day Health Centers, these facilities and programs provide regular daytime care to senior adults forsocialization, recreation, help with personal care, safety, and in some cases, health and rehabilitation-related services.

Area Agency on Aging

The local or regional agency established under the Federal Older AmericansAct to coordinate and provide a wide variety of services to the elderly.

Assessment/ Care Plan

Shortly before you move into a senior living community (assisted living ormemory care), the staff will conduct an assessment. The assessment is aprocess to gather information about a person’s life, functional abilities andneeds, and is used to develop an individualized care plan. The care plandescribes the activities that the staff will perform to enhance, restore ormaintain one’s optimal physical, mental and social well-being.

Assisted Living

Assisted living residences offer private, homelike living space (for example,an apartment, private room, or cottage) with services to support activities ofdaily living. Some assisted living residences also offer health care services.Most residences include housekeeping, meals and activity programs.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC’s)

Retirement communities that include various levels of care – from residentialindependent living to assisted living to skilled nursing care. Most CCRC’s offerresidency agreements, which include future health services and access to thelevels of care.


Disorders of the brain, including Alzheimer’s disease and other illnesses thatresult in a decline in the memory and other intellectual functions.

Discharge Planning

A service provided through hospitals and other health care providers to helpplace a convalescing patient in an appropriate care setting, or to arrangeappropriate services at home.

Durable Power of Attorney

A legal document executed as part of a person’s estate planning. In it, theperson names an “attorney-in-fact” or “agent” to act on his or her behalf inbusiness and/or health care matters.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

Also called a “Health Care Appointment” or a “Health Care Proxy.” This is alegal document that lets you give someone else the power to make health caredecisions for you if a time comes that you can’t speak for yourself.

Executive Director/ Activities Director

The Executive Director runs a senior living community. The Activities Directorruns events, parties, social and recreational activities at a senior living community.

Health Care Directive

Also called a “Living Will.” This is a document that lets you say what kinds ofcare you would want and not want if you were nearing the end of your life. Usually deals with life-sustaining measures.

Home Health Care

Health care services provided in the home. Includes care and support providedby home health aides, certified nursing assistants, registered and licensednurses, rehabilitation therapists, and social workers. Personal care assistantsmay also provide assistance with certain activities.

Hospice Care

Care for the terminally ill and their families, emphasizing pain managementand controlling symptoms, rather than seeking a cure. Offered by hospitals, long-term care facilities and hospice organizations, on an inpatient basis orat home.

Independent Living

Also called “residential independent living” or “congregate care.” Retirementcommunities offer independent senior living in a variety of settings such asapartments, cottages, duplex homes and patio homes. Residents must beable to live safely in the independent environment. Typical services offered bythe retirement community include housekeeping, transportation, activities anddining.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL)

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living IADLs are the secondary level of dailyactivities we do to sustain ourselves such as cooking, writing and driving.

Living Will

See “Health Care Directive.”

Meals On Wheels

Community-based meal service that delivers meals to the homes of senior adults at a modest charge.


A joint state/federal program which helps pay the medical expenses of low-income individuals who meet the program’s qualifying standards.


Long-term care and assisted living, the ombudsman program provides advocacy and trouble-shooting support for residents. Open access to the ombudsman is a protected resident right.

Power of Attorney

A legal document that gives another person legal authority to act on one’s behalf.

Respite Care

Temporary care for a person, provided by a home health care agency or other provider, in order to give the person’s regular caregiver rest and personal time. Respite care can be in the home, at an adult day center, assisted living or memory care community, or in a long-term care facility or hospital.

Skilled Nursing Facility

Also called “nursing homes,” these facilities play two important roles: they provide rehabilitation or “sub-acute care” for people who have been discharged from the hospital but are not medically or physically able to return home; and they provide extended long-term care to frail or chronically ill persons who require a higher level of skilled nursing and medical supervision than is available in other settings.

VA Benefits/ Aid and Attendance

The Veterans Benefits Administration provides financial assistance to those whorequire the aid and attendance of another person. If you are a veteran or weremarried to a veteran who has passed away, and you need help with ADLs, youmay be eligible for an additional amount in addition to your VA pension.

Wills and Trusts

Wills and living trusts are the legal methods used to designate what happensto your possessions and money after you die. A will simply specifies, in writing, who gets what, and how much. A living trust is an alternative to a will. A seniorwho prefers a trust puts their assets in the trust and names a person to takecharge in case of death or incapacitation.