Glossary of Terms

There are many components to the "aging in place" concept that you should be familiar with. Following is a small glossary of key terms.

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) – Essential personal care tasks that are done every day. These include dressing, eating, bathing, using the toilet, transferring from a bed to chair, and continence (the ability of the body to control urination or bowel movements or both).

Administration on Aging (AoA) – An agency of the Department of Health and Human Services that provides home and community-based services to older people through the programs funded under the Older Americans Act. AoA works closely with its nationwide network of State and Area Agencies on Aging.

Adult Day Centers – Community-based group programs that provide health, social, and other supportive services to adults with a physical or cognitive impairment. Adult day centers generally operate programs during normal business hours five days a week.

Aging in Place – The ability to continue to live in one's home safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level. It means living in a familiar environment, and being able to participate in family and other community activities.

Alzheimer's Disease – A progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys a person’s memory and ability to learn, reason, make judgments, communicate and carry out daily activities. As Alzheimer’s progresses, individuals may also experience changes in personality and behavior.

Area Agency on Aging (AAA) – A local agency that coordinates and contracts for social services for people age 60 and older in their area. AAAs are funded through the Older Americans Act.

Caregiver – An individual who provides ongoing assistance and companionship to another adult who can no longer live independently. Most caregivers are unpaid family members and friends.

Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) – As part of the Department of Health and Human Services, CMS finances and administers the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Chronic Health Condition – An ongoing or recurring illness or other condition that typically continues over long period of time and cannot be cured. It is often associated with disability.

Cognitive Impairment – Deterioration of intellectual ability. Symptoms include disorientation, along with impaired short-term or long-term memory and ability to reason. Cognitive impairment includes Alzheimer's disease and other forms of irreversible dementia.

Community-Based Services – Services designed to help older people live independently in their own homes, such as adult day care and senior centers.

Daily Money Managers – Daily Money Managers are trusted, experienced professionals who bring clarity and order to their clients' daily management of bills, budgets and record-keeping.

Elder Law – A legal term coined to cover an area of legal practice that places an emphasis on those issues that affect the growing aging population.

Emergency Response Services – One of the biggest scares for seniors who live independently is the fear of falling. An Emergency Response System gives peace of mind to seniors and their loved ones by providing immediate help for emergency services and assistance.

Financial Planning – Financial planning is a series of steps or goals used by an individual or business, which are designed to accomplish a financial goal or set of circumstances, e.g. elimination of debt, retirement preparedness, etc.

Functional Impairment – Reduced functional ability, which is often measured by limitations in activities of daily living. A person can also be functionally impaired if they have limitations in cognitive or social abilities.

Geriatric Care Manager – Geriatric care managers aid in the process of caring for an elder and/or disabled loved one to improve that person’s quality of life and achieve maximum functional potential. They evaluate the individual with a care-planning assessment, identify problem areas and recommend options and services that allow the person to age in place.

Gerontology – Gerontology is the study of mental, physical and social changes among people as they age. This study combines bio-gerontology, geroscience and the effects of the aging population to promote and shape public policies and programs.

Home Health Care – Services delivered at home to recovering, disabled, chronically or terminally ill people who need medical, nursing, social, or therapeutic treatment, and/or help with activities of daily living.

Home Modifications – Changes made to adapt living spaces to meet the needs of people with physical or mental limitations so that they can continue to live independently and safely. Modifications can range from replacing doorknobs with pull handles to full-scale construction projects.

In-Home Care Services – Help with household chores including shopping, laundry, light cleaning, meal preparation, and transportation.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) – Tasks that enable a person to live independently. They include grocery shopping, meal preparation, using the telephone, doing laundry, light housekeeping, bill paying, and managing medications.

Lifestyle Transition Services – As we age, so do our needs and outlook on life. There are specialists who understand what those emotional, physical and financial needs are, so that you have a better chance of enjoying your golden years.

Long-Term Care – A comprehensive range of health, social, and supportive services provided over an extended period of time to people with physical or mental impairments, who have lost the ability to function independently. These services can be provided by paid or unpaid caregivers at home, in the community, in assisted living facilities, or nursing homes.

Long-Term Care Insurance – A private insurance policy that helps pay for non-medical care for people who need help with activities of daily living. Comprehensive policies cover services provided at home, in an assisted living facility, and a nursing facility.

Medicaid – A joint federal/state program that pays medical assistance for people with low incomes or very high medical bills relative to their income and assets. Medicaid is the primary payer of long-term care in our nation.

Medicare – The federal health insurance program for people age 65 or older, and for some younger people with a disability. Medicare does not pay for long-term care.

Occupational Therapy – Occupational therapy promotes an active lifestyle for seniors to achieve independence and satisfaction in varying aspects of life. By consulting with their families, caregivers and individuals, occupational therapists analyze and address a seniors’ capacity to perform and how it should be best addressed to provide the skills necessary to function in their community or chosen environment.

Older Americans Act (OAA) – The Older Americans Act was signed into law in 1965. In addition to funding the Administration on Aging, the OAA distributes federal funds to states for information centers about senior services, and to pay for meals and other social services.

Respite Care – Temporary or periodic care for impaired people that enables their usual caregivers to take a break from their care giving responsibilities. Respite care can be provided at home, in the community, or in a nursing home or assisted living facility for short periods.

Reverse Mortgages – A reverse mortgage enables homeowners 62 and older to convert a portion of the equity from their homes into tax-free income without having to sell the home, give up title, or take on a new monthly payment.

Senior Center – Community-based programs that provide a variety of services that can include social activities, nutrition, and educational and recreational opportunities for older adults.

Skilled Care – Nursing and rehabilitative care that can be performed only by, or under the supervision of, licensed and skilled medical personnel.