Glossary of Assisted Living Terms

Activities of Daily Living (ADL)

Activities of Daily Living, also known as “ADLs”, are the day-to-day activities we do sustain ourselves, such as eating, drinking, bathing, toileting, dressing, and grooming. The appropriate care type for senior seeking senior living is largely 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 for socialization, 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 Americans Act 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 or memory care), the staff will conduct an assessment. The assessment is a process to gather information about a person’s life, functional abilities and needs, and is used to develop an individualized care plan. The care plan describes the activities that the staff will perform to enhance, restore or maintain 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 of daily 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 residential independent living to assisted living to skilled nursing care. Most CCRC’s offer residency agreements, which include future health services and access to the levels of care.


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

Discharge Planning

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

Durable Power of Attorney

A legal document executed as part of a person’s estate planning. In it, the person names an “attorney-in-fact” or “agent” to act on his or her behalf in business 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 a legal document that lets you give someone else the power to make health care decisions 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 Director runs 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 of care 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 provided by home health aides, certified nursing assistants, registered and licensed nurses, rehabilitation therapists, and social workers. Personal care assistants may also provide assistance with certain activities.

Hospice Care

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

Independent Living

Also called “residential independent living” or “congregate care.” Retirement communities offer independent senior living in a variety of settings such as apartments, cottages, duplex homes and patio homes. Residents must be able to live safely in the independent environment. Typical services offered by the retirement community include housekeeping, transportation, activities and dining.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL)

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living, IADLs, are the secondary level of daily activities 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 who require the aid and attendance of another person. If you are a veteran or we remarried to a veteran who has passed away, and you need help with ADLs, you may 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 happens to 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 senior who prefers a trust puts their assets in the trust and names a person to take charge in case of death or incapacitation.