The LifeWorx Care Glossary

Finding good help at home can be daunting, particularly when it comes to healthcare! If you encounter unfamiliar terms or language, this glossary of common terms in the home and elder care industry may have the answer! Our team is always available to answer your questions.

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24/7 Home Care

24/7 Home Care is care provided in your loved one’s home or assisted living facility. 24/7 home care service supports many facets of everyday life such as personal care, emotional care, household care, and skilled nursing care. 24/7 home care may involve two or more caregivers rotating shifts to ensure someone is always available to help the client when needed at any time.


Advance [Healthcare] Directive

Advanced Directive is a legal document outlining what actions should be taken regarding one’s health if they are no longer able to make these decisions themselves. Advance [Healthcare] Directive is sometimes referred to as a medical (health care) power of attorney or a “health care surrogate”, depending on the state.

Advanced Practice Nurse (APN)

Advanced Practice Nurses  are registered nurses with specialized education and training beyond the basic registered nurse level. Some are called clinical nurse specialists, and some are called nurse practitioners. Advanced practice nurses are licensed at the state level and certified by national nursing organizations.

Aging in Place

Aging in place means a person refers to the senior continuing to age in the home of their choice versus taking up residence in a senior health care facility. This choice indicates that they can have all their needs met. Aging in place can only address those problems that have already been planned for in the person’s life.

Alzheimer’s (Disease)

Alzheimer’s is a degenerative age-related disease that impairs an individual’s cognitive ability. It is a specific form or cause of dementia but, unlike certain forms of dementia, is not curable. Symptoms may include forgetfulness, wandering, and inability to recognize others. The disease is caused by neuron dysfunction and degeneration in specific regions of the brain responsible for cognitive functions.

Ambulatory Care

Ambulatory care is any medical care delivered on an outpatient basis and provided by health care professionals in outpatient settings. These settings include medical offices and clinics, ambulatory surgery centers, hospital outpatient departments, and dialysis centers.


Assessments are usually a comprehensive review of all aspects of a person’s mental, physical, and environmental condition is one way to determine if your loved one needs assistance. This helps evaluate his or her ability to remain safely independent and identify risks and ways to reduce them.

At-Home Care

At-home care is medical care provided to seniors in their place of residence other than in an assisted living or skilled nursing facility.

Assisted Living

Assisted Living is a supportive housing facility designed for those who need extra assistance in their day-to-day lives, but who do not require the 24-hour skilled nursing care found in traditional nursing homes.  At LifeWorx, we provide caregivers and serve many assisted living facilities as well as private homes throughout the New York Metropolitan area.

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In general, a beneficiary is someone who receives the proceeds or benefits from something, such as an insurance policy. Individuals or entities such as charities, nonprofits, or trusts can be beneficiaries.

Benefit Cap

The cap or limitation on the amount paid out under the insurance policy – on a per-day or per-month basis, and on the amount paid during the lifetime of the insured’s condition.

Benefit Period

A “benefit period” is the amount of time during which an insurance policy provides a senior with benefits. Typical options for benefit periods include three years, five years, or a lifetime.

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Care Coordinator

Sometimes referred to as a “patient care coordinator” is a trained health professional that helps to manage a patient’s care, for example, the elderly or disabled. They monitor and coordinate patients’ treatment plans, educate them about their condition, connect them with health care providers, and evaluate their progress.


A caregiver can be a spouse, family member, partner, friend, or neighbor who helps care for an elder or person with a disability who needs assistance. Caregivers can also be people employed by the older adult, a family member, agencies, or care settings to provide assistance with activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs).

Caregiver Agency

A caregiver agency employs or contracts with caregivers and arranges them to visit a client to provide care services. Some care agencies also provide nursing care to people in their own homes.

Case Manager

A nurse, social worker, or other healthcare professionals who plan and coordinate services for an individual’s care. This person usually works for an agency or care setting.


An opaqueness that develops in the lens of the eye or in its envelope, causing myopia (distant objects appear blurred).  It can cause a person not to be able to see blue colors and can lead to blindness if not treated.


A catheter is a medical tube device inserted into the body cavity, duct, or vessel. Catheters allow drainage of fluids or infection but may also provide access for surgical instruments into the body.

Certified Home Health Agencies

Provides part-time, intermittent health care and support services to individuals who need immediate and skilled health care.

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

A CNA, working under the direction of a registered or a practical nurse, fulfills many basic needs regarding direct patient care, including, among other things, feeding, dressing, assisting with matters of hygiene, taking vital signs, collecting specimens, accompanying to and from appointments or while taking exercise and often providing emotional support.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

A disease in which the air pathways in the lungs arrow and limit the ability to get air to the lungs. The disease progresses over time and can result in death.


The process of knowing; of being aware of thoughts. The ability to reason and understand.

Cognitive Impairment

Cognitive impairment refers to a diminished mental capacity, such as difficulty with short-term memory or problems that affect how clearly a person thinks, learns new tasks, and remembers events that just happened or happened a long time ago.

Companion Care

Companion care is a form of non-medical home care for older adults or people with disabilities. Companion care differs from personal care in that personal care aides (also known as home health aides) may provide the same service as companion care, but also helps with tasks such as bathing, dressing, and medication management, depending on specific state regulations.


The voluntary control of excretory functions and/or the ability to perform personal hygiene such as caring for a catheter or colostomy bag. This is normally identified as an activity of daily living.

Continuing Care Retirement Community

Assisted living housing communities that provide care at different levels. Care options can range from independent living apartments to skilled nursing and are based on the needs of the residents. The CCRC charges monthly fees, and usually requires an endowment (a significant payment) prior to admission.

Custodial Care (Personal Care)

Care for individuals who need assistance with non-medical activities of daily living. Professional training is not required to administer this type of care. Custodial care is not covered by Medicare or Medicaid coverage is extremely small.

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Deduction Period/Elimination Period/Waiting Period

The number of days the insured must be receiving care before policy benefits are paid out. For example, with a 90-day elimination period, the policy will begin paying benefits on the 91st day.


A condition that involves the steady decline of mental health and can be diagnosed by a person developing at least two brain functions—typically memory loss and judgment. The most common form of Alzheimer’s.

Durable Power of Attorney

Is a written authorization that enables a person to oversee addressing the legal issues of another. It may also be referred to simply as the “power of attorney” (POA).

Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR)

A written legal order stating that the patient does not want to be resuscitated.  This can also apply to the application of artificial life support.

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Elder Care

Elder care is considered custodial care, the type of care not covered by Medicare. Elder care encompasses a wide range of services that can be administered in various settings including homes, assisted living facilities, and skilled nursing facilities. Elder care is usually provided over a longer period of time and includes health-related services as well as supervision and a wide range of personal and social services.

Elder Law Attorney

A lawyer who specializes in the legal rights and issues of older adults and their health, finances, and well-being.

Elimination Period

A period where an individual must make premium payments on an insurance policy before benefits can be paid. Typically, no benefits are paid during an elimination period unless specifically noted in the policy.

End-of-Life Care

Refers to health care for a person nearing the end of their life or in the advanced stage of a terminal illness. End-of-life care involves a range of possible decisions, including hospice and palliative care.

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Family Caregiver

Any family member, partner, friend, or neighbor who provides or manages the care of someone who is ill, disabled, or frail. There may be more than one family caregiver involved in a person’s care. Sometimes family caregivers are referred to as informal caregivers.

Family Council

Family members (usually of a nursing home or assisted living resident) join together to provide a voice and perspective to communicate issues to administrators and work for resolution and improvement. Family Councils can play a crucial role in expressing concerns, requesting improvements, and discussing the direction of care provided by the nursing home or assisted living facility.

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A medical doctor with special training in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of illness and disabilities in older adults.


A guardian is a person who is appointed by a court to make decisions on behalf of someone who is unable to make decisions for themselves. In the context of senior care, a guardian is usually responsible for making choices regarding an elderly person’s care.


A court order that restricts an elder’s legal rights on grounds of competency. Another person, usually a family member, is appointed by the court and charged with the duty of managing the elder’s legal dealings.

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Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

HIPAA is legislation that provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information.

Health Care Proxy

A legal document that allows you to declare someone who can make health care decisions for you in the event that you are not capable of making them yourself.

Home Health Agency

A home health agency is an organization that provides healthcare-related services to individuals in their places of residence other than in a hospital, nursing home, or county medical care 1 or more of the following services: nursing services, therapeutic services, social work services, homemaker services, etc.

Home Health Aide

A professional trained to provide basic health care tasks for older adults and persons who are disabled in their homes. Tasks include personal care, light housecleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, laundry, and transportation.

Home Health Care

Home health care services are provided to patients at home by registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, home health aides, or other trained workers. Certified home health agencies often provide and coordinate these services. These services, provided on a short-term basis and ordered by a physician, are usually covered by Medicare and Medicaid.

Hospice Care

Hospice care is an end-of-life program that aims to provide comfort and alleviate symptoms but does not cure the underlying diseases. Support is provided in the form of physical, psychological, social, and spiritual care.

Hybrid Policies

These policies provide for a purchase of a pool of benefits. If the insured does not use the benefit, it is transferred to the insured’s beneficiary upon death as a death benefit. Hybrid policies are similar in concept to the 529 college savings plan in that they provide tax-free savings accounts for future benefits.

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Incontinence is the loss of bladder or bowel movement control. This condition can be transient, intermittent, or permanent. Incontinence nurse specialists and physicians can diagnose the kind of incontinence that is present and suggest ways to effectively manage the situation through exercises and timed toileting programs.

Independent Living

A residential living arrangement that may or may not provide hospitality or supportive services. Includes rental assisted or market-rate apartments or cottages. Residents can choose which services they want.

In-Home Care

A level of care in which the patient has health care issues, but with the assistance of a trusted person to assist with daily activities and ensure medications are taken, meals eaten, etc. the patient can continue to reside safely in their own home.

In-Home Health Aide

A worker with specified training and certification to provide home health care under the direction of a registered nurse.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs)

A series of common life tasks necessary for maintaining a person’s immediate environment. These are most commonly defined as shopping for food and medications, cooking, laundering, house cleaning, managing one’s medications, and finances.

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Lewy Body Dementia

Also known as dementia with Lewy bodies, this is the second most common type of progressive dementia (after Alzheimer’s disease) that leads to a decline in thinking, reasoning, and independent function because of abnormal microscopic deposits that damage brain cells over time.

Live-In Care

Live-in care usually means having a fully trained caregiver living with you in your own home full-time. The caregiver supports you with your specific needs to keep you comfortable and independent at home. They also provide personal care, assistance with the activities of daily living, companionship, and if trained, nursing services.

Long-Term Care

Long-term care is a class of services and support intended to meet health and personal care needs over an extended period. This includes medical and non-medical care for people with a chronic illness or disability. Long-term care can be provided at home, in an adult day care center, in an assisted living community, or in a nursing home.

Long-Term Care Insurance

Long-term care insurance is a specific type of policy that provides benefits for a chronically ill or disabled individual over an extended period.

Check out the LifeWorx Guide to Long-Term Care & Insurance to learn more!

LPN or LVN (Licensed Practical Nurses or Licensed Vocational Nurses)

These types of nurses have one to two years of technical training. They assist registered nurses with data collection, care planning, and monitoring of residents’ conditions. They are licensed to administer medications and treatments, transcribe physician orders, etc. Most of the licensed nurses working in nursing homes are LPNs or LVNs, especially on the evening and night shifts.

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NOC is a common abbreviation for Nocturnal, at night or needing night care. A NOC nurse would be the nurse who is on shift at night. You will see this term most often in charting and physician orders. This term is also used to describe a level of care if a patient is needing care at night.

Nursing Home Facility

A residential care setting that provides 24-hour care (all day and night) to individuals who are chronically ill or disabled. Individuals must be unable to care for themselves in other settings or need extensive medical and/or skilled nursing care.

Nurse Practitioner

A registered nurse with advanced education and training. A nursing practitioner can diagnose and manage the most common or chronic illnesses. They do so alone or in collaboration with a health care team. Nursing practitioners can prescribe medications and provide some services that were formerly permitted only to doctors.

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Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy involves the assessment of an individual’s physical state and capabilities. The goal is to maintain the patient’s maximum degree of independence.


The ombudsman is an advocate for residents of nursing homes, board, and care homes, and assisted living. They provide information about how to find a nursing home or other type of LTC facility and what to do to get quality care. An ombudsman can assist you with expressing complaints, but this requires your permission because these matters are held confidential.

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Palliative Care

This level of care is provided to those suffering from a serious, or possibly terminal condition, requiring a team of specifically trained nurses, doctors, and other specialists. Generally, such care is provided within the confines of a hospital or clinic. The goal, to manage the symptoms and maximize the patient’s comfort may also involve curative efforts.

Parkinson’s Disease

A degenerative neurological disorder in which a person’s central nervous system gradually erodes a person’s ability to control the movements of his/her body.

Patient Care Assistant (PCAs)

Sometimes simply called caregivers or personal care aides, PCAs are generally limited to providing non-medical services, including companionship, cleaning, cooking, and driving. They may also assist in monitoring the condition of people with disabilities or chronic illnesses and help them with daily living activities.

Personal Care

Personal care refers to non-medical nursing services, such as assistance with bathing, dressing, eating, getting in and out of bed or chair, moving around, using the bathroom, or any other activity of daily living (ADL) required or desired by the individual needing care.

Primary Care Provider (PCP)

This term almost always refers to doctors, nurse practitioners, or physician assistants who provide routine care and preventive care. PCPs diagnose and treat common medical problems, determine how urgent these problems are, and may refer patients to other specialists if needed.

Personal Emergency Response System (PERS)

A PERS is an alarm system a private person can purchase and install in their home. This system often has separate features that make it usable for both landlines and cell phones.

Personal Care Services

Personal care services are hands-on services that assist a person with critical day-to-day activities that they are unable to perform on their own. Often referred to as Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) or Instrumental Activities of Daily Life (IADLs), these services will frequently be enough to allow a person to remain in their own home, rather than transfer to assisted living or a nursing home.

Power of Attorney

A legal document that lets your senior choose someone who will have the power to act in their place. It would allow the designated person to make decisions on their older adult’s behalf.

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Quality of Life

A person’s well-being. In healthcare terms, quality of life includes physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being – ensuring the patient is as comfortable as possible.

Qualified Long-Term Care Insurance Policy

All long-term care policies sold prior to January 1, 1997, are considered qualified only if they meet certain criteria. A non-qualified policy, by contrast, offers no tax deductions for the premiums you pay.

Qualified Long-Term Care Services

Services that have been defined as including the type of daily “personal care services” provided to patients, such as help with bathing, dressing, continence care, eating, and transferring as well as “maintenance services” such as meal preparation and household cleaning.

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RCF (Residential Care Facility)

Residential care facilities tend to be small private facilities, usually with 20 or fewer residents (some places might house as few as three or four people) that are staffed around the clock, delivering non-institutional home-based services to seniors who do not need 24-hour nursing care. In addition to providing meals, these facilities offer personal care assistance with such activities as grooming and toileting.

Registered Nurse (RN)

A registered nurse is a graduate of a formal nursing education program (three to four years) who has passed a national examination and is licensed to practice (by the state board). RNs assess, plan, implement, teach, and evaluate a person’s nursing care needs, along with the rest of the healthcare team.  RNs also work with groups of people or populations to determine how to promote health and prevent problems on a larger scale.

Respite Care

Respite care is designed to provide temporary relief for those who have the responsibility of caring for a senior family member.


Rehabilitation (or rehab, for short) are care services that can help you get back, keep, or improve abilities that you need for daily life. These abilities may be physical, mental, and/or cognitive (thinking and learning).

Rehabilitative Care

Health care services that help you keep, get back, or improve skills and functioning for daily living that may have been lost or impaired because you were sick, hurt, or disabled. These activities may include physical and occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and psychiatric rehabilitation services in a variety of inpatient and/or outpatient settings.

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Skilled Care

Skilled care services may be ordered by a physician that requires the medical knowledge and/or technical training of a skilled licensed healthcare professional.

Speech Therapist

Speech therapists are a professional that helps those suffering from speech or communication impediments, the specific mode of treatment depends on that patient’s needs. In the case of a senior, this could refer to their need for assistance to regain or refine their power of speech following a stroke, a head injury following a fall, or while dealing with dementia.


Sundowning refers to a state of confusion occurring in the late afternoon and into the night. Sundowning can present as a variety of behaviors, such as confusion, anxiety, aggression, or ignoring directions. Sundowning isn’t a disease, but a group of symptoms that occur at a specific time of the day that may affect people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

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Tax-Qualified LTC Insurance Policy

A long-term care insurance policy whose provisions comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), providing favorable tax treatment to the insured.


Telehealth and telemedicine refer to the remote delivery of healthcare services, either via telephone, video calling, or apps.

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A powered medical device that assists a person with breathing.

Visiting Nurse

Agencies that are working under the orders of one’s doctor to provide nursing care and, potentially, physical, occupational, and speech therapy as well as home health aide services.

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