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Senior Housing Glossary

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Definitions and details on senior housing and senior care from

Accreditation: A seal of approval given by an autonomous governing body to a community or service provider. To become accredited, the community or provider must meet specific requirements set by the accreditation entity and is then generally required to undergo a thorough review process by a team of evaluators to ensure certain standards of quality. The accrediting organizations are independent, not government agencies or regulatory bodies. Some examples of accreditation bodies for the senior housing and care industry include Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Communities, Continuing Care Accreditation Commission, and Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs): Bathing, eating, grooming, dressing, toileting and other day-to-day activities.

ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act): Passed by Congress in 1980, this law establishes a clear and comprehensive prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability.

Administrator: In most cases, a licensed professional who undertakes the duty of managing the day-to-day operations of a care community such as a skilled nursing or assisted living community.

Adult Day Care: Structured programs with stimulating social activities, health-related and rehabilitation services for the elderly who are physically or emotionally disabled and need a protective environment. The participant is usually brought to the care community in the morning and leaves in the evening.

Advantage List: Healthcare and service providers that partner with select insurance providers to give a preset discount for policyholders.

Affordable Senior Housing: An age-qualified, cost-efficient place of dwelling for persons whose income is a certain percentage below the median income for an area, as determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Aging in Place: A concept that advocates allowing a resident to choose to remain in his/her living environment regardless of the physical and or mental decline that may occur with the aging process.

Alzheimer’s Care Center: A treatment center that provides a safe environment and supportive care for those with Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s: A progressive, neurodegenerative disease which is recognized by loss of mental and learning function. Alzheimer’s disease is also the leading cause of dementia.

Ambulatory: The ability to walk freely & independently, not bedridden or hospitalized.

Apartments (All Age): Multifamily rental housing that provides accommodations to persons of all ages and based on a lease agreement. Offers an independent lifestyle, in addition to social and recreational activities.

Assessment: A cognitive evaluation usually performed by a medical professional.

Assisted Living: Communities that promote independence but offer personal assistance for meals, bathing, dressing, and/or medication on an as-needed basis.  Transportation and social activities may be available. Learn more in’s Assisted Living Guide.

Caregiver: Designated persons who serve as home health aides and companions.

Case Management: A planned approach to the coordination of health services to individuals.

Charge Nurse: An RN or LPN who is responsible for the supervision of a unit within a nursing community. The charge nurse schedules and supervises the nursing staff and provides care to community residents.

Congregate Housing: A housing environment for independent persons, support services are typically available.  Meals and other care are often shared.

Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC): A residential campus providing a continuum of care from private homes and independent living to assisted living and skilled nursing.  Residents can age in place without having to relocate, regardless of medical needs.  There may/may not be a buy in fee. Learn more in’s Senior Housing Guide.

Continuum of Care: An integrated system of care that guides and tracks individuals over time through a comprehensive array of health services spanning all levels of care from basic to advanced.

Convalescent Home: See Skilled Nursing.

Dementia: The progressive or immediate loss of cognitive abilities, including memory, thought formulations, disorientation and rational decision-making.  Dementia is not a disease, rather a, irreversible grouping of symptoms that leads to a syndrome.

Developmental Disability (DD): Affliction characterized by chronic physical and mental disabilities, which may include: cerebral palsy, retardation, thyroid problems, seizures, and quadriplegia.

Director of Nursing (DON): A DON oversees all nursing staff in skilled nursing, and is responsible for formulating nursing policies and monitoring the quality of care delivered, as well as the community’s compliance with federal and state regulations pertaining to nursing care.

Financial Counseling Programs: Programs designed to offer seniors full financial management support including household bills as well as insurance applications, forms and investment opportunities.

HIPAA: Acronym that stands for “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act”, a US law designed to provide privacy standards to protect patients’ medical records and other health information provided to health plans, doctors, hospitals and other health care providers.

HMO: A Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) is an organized system for providing comprehensive health care in a specific geographic area to a voluntarily enrolled group of members.

Home Health Care: At-home health and/or supportive care provided by healthcare professionals.

Homes (All Age): An independent place of dwelling where there is ownership or a lease option of the property.

Homes (55+): An age-qualified housing community which offers an independent place of dwelling with ownership or a lease option of the property.

Hospice Care: A care provided to those who are terminally or severely ill. The mission of hospice care is to provide comprehensive support to those ill by offering a comforting environment that minimizes suffering. The focus is to have a tranquil setting where patients can still feel dignified and comfortable during their final days.

Independent Living: Communities offering an independent lifestyle and the benefits of a full service community, such as meals in a restaurant setting, housekeeping, transportation, and various social activities.  Wellness programs may be available but typically no care options. Learn more in’s Independent Living Guide.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs): A level of activities that are secondary to basic functions, but are important for independent living. These include: paying bills, grocery shopping, driving and managing finances.

Kitchenette: Each community may have its own definition of a kitchenette, but generally one includes a sink, cabinet space, and a mini-refrigerator, maybe a microwave. In contrast, a full kitchen would usually have a burner unit, sink, cabinets, full-size refrigerator, and possibly a microwave or stove.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN): LPNs are trained to administer technical nursing procedures as well as provide a range of health care services, such as administration of medication and changing of dressings. One year of post high school education and passage of a state-licensing exam is required.

Life Care Community: A Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) that offers an insurance type contract and provides all levels of care. It often includes payment for acute care and physician’s visits. Little or no change is made in the monthly fee, regardless of the level of medical care required by the resident, except for cost of living increases.

Living Will: Also known as an advanced health care directive. A written document that states the actions to be taken regarding the patient’s health should he/she become severely ill or incapacity and is no longer able to make independent decisions.

Long-Term Care: Health care and support services provided to those who are not able to fully function independently for long periods of time.

Long-Term Care Insurance: Insurance that covers the long-term supportive care of an individual after a predetermined time period.

Low Income Senior Housing: Housing options for persons over the age of 55 with below average income. (see Affordable Senior Housing)

Managed Care: Can best be described as the partnership of insurance and a health care delivery system. The basic goal of managed care is to coordinate all health care services received to maximize benefits and minimize costs. Managed care plans use their own network of health care providers and a system of prior approval from a primary care doctor in order to achieve this goal. Providers include: specialists, hospitals, skilled nursing communities, therapists, and home health care agencies.

Medicaid: A government-funded, state-managed health care program provided to individuals and families with limited income available. In order to qualify for the additional healthcare supports, persons must be citizens or legal permanent residents of the United States and live below a certain income level, among certain other requirements.  Medicaid participants receive a private health care plan that included a coverage amount determined by the state.

Medicare: A federally funded system of health and hospital insurance for persons aged 65 and older and for disabled persons.

Medical Director: The medical director coordinates with an individual’s personal physician to ensure that the community delivers the care that is prescribed. In some instances, the medical director may be a resident’s primary physician. A staff medical director assumes overall responsibility for the formulation and implementation of all policies related to medical care.

Medications Management / Medication Administration: Formalized procedure with a written set of rules for the management of self-administered medicine, as in an assisted living setting. A program may include management of the timing and dosage for residents, and could include coordination with a resident’s personal physician. The resident must take the medication him or herself. For instance, the community can remind the resident that she needs to give herself the medicine injection, but the community cannot perform the actual injection itself.

Medigap Insurance: A supplemental health insurance privately sold to persons who receive Medicare in efforts to cover medical services not, or only partially, covered by Medicare.

Memory Care: Self-contained environment specifically designed to serve residents with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias.

Mobile Home Parks: A dedicated area of land designed for semi- permanent or permanent mobile homes. Residence may own or lease the land the home occupies.  Social and recreational activities may be available.

National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC): A national organization established to set a modeling standard for healthcare industry procedures and regulations. The NAIC serves as a main influence for states on how to interpret insurance policies and coverage rights.

Non-Ambulatory: Inability to walk independently, usually bedridden or hospitalized.

Non Medical Home Care: At-home care/services provided to individuals.

Not-for-Profit: Status of ownership and/or operation characterized by government by community-based boards of trustees who are all volunteers. Board members donate their time and talents to ensure that a not-for-profit organization’s approach to caring for older people responds to local needs. Not-for-profit homes and services turn any surplus income back into improving or expanding services for their clients or residents. Many not-for-profit organizations are often associated with religious denominations and fraternal groups. Not-for-profits may also interact with Congress and federal agencies to further causes that serve the elderly.

Nurse Assistant:  A Nurse assistant works under the supervision of a Registered Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse. A Nurse Assistant provides the most personal care to residents, including bathing, dressing, and toileting. Must be trained, tested, and certified to provide care in nursing communities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Nursing Home/ Skilled Nursing:  A place of residence for persons that need 24/hr support due to considerable deficiencies with daily living routines including eating, dressing, bathing, etc.

Occupational Therapy: A creative activity prescribed for its effect in promoting recovery or rehabilitation. This is done to help individuals relearn activities of daily living and is generally administered by a licensed therapist.

Physical Therapy: The treatment of disease or injury, by physical and mechanical means (as massage, regulated exercise, water, light, heat, and electricity.) Physical therapists plan and administer prescribed physical therapy treatment programs for residents to help restore their function and strength.

Quality care: Term used to describe care and services that allow recipients to attain and maintain their highest level of mental, physical, and psychological function, in a dignified and caring way.

Registered Nurse (RN): Graduate trained nurse who has both passed a state board examination and is licensed by a state agency to practice nursing. A minimum of two years of college is required in addition to passage of the state exams. The RN plans for resident care by assessing resident needs, developing and monitoring care plans in conjunction with physicians, as well as executing highly technical, skilled nursing treatments.

Rehabilitation: Therapeutic care for persons requiring intensive physical, occupational, or speech therapy in order to restore to the patient to a former capacity.

Residential Care Home: Typically a single-family home offering assistance with activities of daily living.

Respite Care: Support services offered to provide temporary relief to those in charge of care services to individuals.

Retirement Communities: An age-qualified housing community for independent persons. Amenities and services are often shared. There are a variety of retirement communities based on the preferences, abilities and support needs of the senior.

RV Parks (All Age): A dedicated section of land for parking recreational vehicles (RV) for a brief period of time. Some offer minimal services while others offer luxurious resort-style amenities.

RV Retirement Community: A community allocated for age-qualified persons who pursue traveling and need an environment to park their recreational vehicles (RVs).

Senior Apartment: Age-qualified multiunit rental housing for older adults who are able to care for themselves. Usually no additional services such as meals or transportation are provided. Learn more in’s Senior Housing Guide.

Senior Citizen Policies:  Insurance policies offered for individuals 65 years of age or older, often working in combination with Medicare.

Senior Cooperative Housing: An age-qualified, membership-based ownership where persons will be provided housing based on becoming a shareholder of the real estate of interest.

Senior Mobile Home Parks: A community designed for age-qualified persons that will reside in a factory built home.

Senior Rehabilitation: Age-specific therapeutic care. (see Rehabilitation)

Skilled Nursing: A place of residence for persons that need 24-hour support due to considerable deficiencies with daily living routines including eating, dressing, bathing, etc.

Support group: An organized gathering of people that are affected by a condition or disease in efforts to provide a communal support system open to sharing experiences and issues. Participants can include caregivers, family, friends, patients and any individual affected by the situation.

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    About :

    Mike Barnes is the former Specialty Brand Coordinator for For Rent Media Solutions.


    1. Judy Bellard-Burns says:

      64 yr old female with physical impairments and a need for assisted living is looking for affordable all inclusive rent w/ handicap access in the
      Lake Charles LA or Lafayette LA area. Would age appropriate community that offers a peaceful and quite living experience.

    2. Kathleen Lempka says:

      Looking for lower income Senior apartment 1 bedroom. Melbourne Palm Bay Area Florida or as close to there as possible

    3. yes. looking for low income housing for myself. Need help with finances. I will be 65 in June of 2018,

    4. Gwen Davis says:

      I forgot to mention I’m in Stockton, Ca

    5. Gwen Davis says:

      Yes I am . I am 61 years young and looking for a one bedroom low income unit that will accept my 10lbs. medical companion. I receive
      only XXX. monthly. I would like to move ASAP please call (916)XXX-XXXX.

    6. Looking for a nice place to live
      Retired want quite and peace w/ happyness

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