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Assisted Living Terms

Accessory Apartment

A separate living unit inside a single-family home. This is a popular senior housing option for people who want to stay in their homes, and a potential source of care giving between an older person and a friend, neighbor or relative, providing the convenience of physical closeness while maintaining privacy. It provides additional income for the landlord, and low rent for the tenant.


A seal of approval given by a governing body to a senior housing or service provider. To be accredited, the provider must meet requirements set by the accreditation body and must undergo a thorough evaluation to ensure that it meets certain standards of quality. Accrediting organizations are not government agencies or regulatory bodies. Examples of some accreditation bodies for the senior housing and senior care industry include CCAC (Continuing Care Accreditation Commission), CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) and JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations).

Activities of Daily Living (ADL)

Everyday activities such as bathing, grooming, eating, using the toilet, and getting dressed. The functions or tasks for self care which are performed either independently or with supervision or assistance. lt includes but are not limited to: mobility, transferring, walking, grooming, bathing, dressing and undressing, eating and toileting.

ADA (American with Disabilities Act)

A law passed by Congress in 1990, which established a clear and comprehensive prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability. The law requires equal access to public buildings and places of employment for people with disabilities. Subsequent amendments have extended the access requirement to telecommunications, information on the Internet, etc.

Admission Agreement

The agreement which is agreed to and signed by the resident or responsible party for the resident, upon applying as a resident in the facility. It will also provide the conditions for which the resident can be discharged form the facility due to behavior, limitations of the services which can be provided and the services needed and / or condition of the facility in being able to provide the required care.

Adult Day Care

Daily structured programs in a community setting with activities and health-related and rehabilitation services for seniors who are physically or emotionally disabled and need a protective environment. This care is provided during the day, and the senior receiving the care returns home in the evening.

Aging in Place

A concept that allows a senior to remain in his or her living environment, despite the physical and/or mental decline that may occur during the aging process. A process whereby individuals remain in their living environment despite the physical and/or mental decline and growing needs for supportive services. For aging in place to occur, services are added, increased or adjusted to compensate for the person's physical and/or mental decline.

Assessment or Evaluations

Assessments which are performed on each resident on a regular basis to monitor the resident's health, physical abilities and changes in the resident's condition since the last assessment was performed.

Assisted Living Facility (ALF)

Generally, these are state-licensed programs offered at senior residential communities with services that include meals, laundry, housekeeping, medication reminders, and assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs). The exact definition will vary from state to state, and a few states do not license assisted living facilities. Assisted living is generally regarded as a step or two below skilled nursing in its level of care. Approximately 90 percent of the country's assisted living services are paid for with private funds, although some states have adopted Medicaid waiver programs.

Assisted living may also be referred to as Personal Care, Board and Care, Residential Care, Boarding Home, etc., although some states differentiate between their definition of "Assisted Living" and these other terms (e.g., Washington state recognizes and licenses "Assisted Living" facilities as well as "Boarding Homes;" although licensed by the State of Washington, a Boarding Home does not meet the higher physical plant and service requirements necessary to be considered an Assisted Living facility).

ALF's range in size from small homes housing 6-12 people to large full service facilities. The range of servicesvary from facility to facility. Services typically include assistance with meals, bathing, dressing, continence care and other routine daily needs. Medical services vary by facility.

Cognitive Impairment

State of diminished mental capacity which prevents individual from performingthe daily activities of living; dressing, bathing, eating, transferring from one location to another and use of toilet facilities. A condition whereby the individual is unable to accomplish tasks due to not being ableto remember how to do them, not know where they are, not recognize family members.

Congregate Housing

Refer to Independent Living (may be also referred to as Supportive Housing).

Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)

Senior housing planned and operated to provide a continuum of accommodations and services for seniors, including but not limited to independent living, congregate housing, assisted living, and skilled nursing care. A CCRC resident contract often involves either an entry fee or a buy-in fee in addition to the monthly service charges, which may change according to the medical services required. Entry fees may be partially or fully refundable. The fee is used primarily as a method of privately financing the development of the project and as payment for future health care. CCRCs are typically licensed by the state. See also Life Care Community.

Convalescent Home

See Nursing Home.

ECHO (Elder Cottage Housing Opportunities)

A small, temporary home installed on the same site as a single-family residence, usually that of an adult child or other relative. ECHO units allow seniors to remain close to family members and receive the support they need while retaining a great deal of independence.

Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act (HIPAA)

Federal Law of 1996 which provided differences between Qualified and Non Qualified Long Term Care Plans for Tax Benefits. Law further provided for protection of private medical information not being shared.

Home Health Care

Medical and nursing services are provided in a person’s home by a licensed provider.

Hospice Care

Care and comfort provided to those with a terminal illness and their families. It may include medical, counseling, and social services. Most hospice care is furnished in-home, while specialized hospices and some hospitals also provide such care. A program of palliative and supportive services provided to terminally ill persons and their families in the form of physical, psychological, social and spiritual care. Usually provided for 6 months or less.

Independent Living

A multi-unit senior housing development that may provide supportive services such as meals, housekeeping, social activities, and transportation. This alternative is available as part of Congregate Housing, Supportive Housing, and Retirement Communities. Independent Living encourages people to socialize by providing meals in a central dining area and through scheduled social programs. This term may also be used to describe housing with few or no services such as Senior Apartment.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs)

Day-to-day tasks such as preparing meals, shopping, managing money, taking medication, and housekeeping.

Life Care Community

A Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), which offers an insurance type of 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.

Normal Aging Process

The natural process in an individual's aging. It is a biological, sociological and psychological process that spans the total life cycle. It is normally gradual process in the physical body as well as the psychosocial functions. When something occurs suddenly which changes our physical body or our psychosocial ability to function, the body often ages more rapidly.

Nursing Home

A facility licensed by the state that provides 24-hour nursing care, room and board, and activities for convalescent residents and those with chronic and/or long-term illnesses. The availability of regular medical supervision and rehabilitation therapy is required, and nursing homes are eligible to participate in the Medicaid program. This alternative may be referred to as a Nursing Facility or Convalescent Home.

Residential Care

See Assisted Living.

Resident Service Plan

Service plan agreement which provides the general services needs of a resident that the facility will perform.

Resident's Rights

Rights for each resident that are posted throughout the facility and are part of the facility's policies and procedures

Respite Care

Temporary relief for caregivers, ranging from several hours to days. This may be provided in-home or in a residential care setting such as an assisted living facility or nursing home.

Senior Apartment

Age-restricted multiunit housing with self-contained living units for older adults who are able to care for themselves. Usually no additional services such as meals or transportation are provided.


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