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LifeWorx’ care glossary provides clear, concise definitions of common terms and phrases related to aging, health, caregiving, and more. Whether you’re looking to navigate the world of senior living options or simply seeking to understand the language used in the field, our glossary is here to help. Explore our collection of terms to deepen your knowledge and empower yourself to make informed decisions about senior care.

# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


24/7 Home Care (or 24-hour 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 address the client’s needs at any time.


An 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. The most common types of Advance [Healthcare] Directive are living wills and medical power of attorney (POA), depending on the state.

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 is a term used for seniors choosing to remain at home versus taking up residence in a senior health care facility. This choice indicates that they have the ability to function safely and independently in the community. 

Alzheimer’s Disease is a degenerative age-related disease that impairs an individual’s cognitive ability. It is a specific form or cause of dementia and incurable. Symptoms may include forgetfulness, wandering, and inability to recognize others. The disease is caused by neuron dysfunction and degeneration in regions of the brain responsible for cognitive functions.

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

Assessments are a comprehensive review of all aspects of a person’s mental, physical and social health. This helps determine the kind of assistance your loved one may need, evaluates his or her ability to remain safe independently and identifies potential risks.

Assisted Living is a supportive housing facility designed for those who need extra assistance in their day-to-day lives, but 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.


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.

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.

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


Sometimes referred to as a “patient care coordinator” is a trained professional that helps manage a patient’s care, usually, 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 individuals 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).

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.

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

A CNA, works under the direction of a registered or a practical nurse, fulfilling basic needs of direct patient care. This includes feeding, dressing, taking vital signs and accompanying to and from appointments.

A disease in which the air pathways in the lungs narrow and limit the ability to get air to the lungs. The disease progresses over time and damage can not be reversed.

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

Cognitive impairment refers to a diminished mental capacity that affects how clearly a person thinks, learns new tasks, and recalls short term and/or long term events.

A companion agency employs or contracts with caregivers and arranges them to visit a client to provide non-medical care.

Companion care is non-medical care provided to older adults or people with disabilities.

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.

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.


The required 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 decline of cognitive health and can be diagnosed by a person developing at least two brain dysfunctions—typically memory loss and judgment. The most common form of Alzheimer’s.

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

A written authorization that enables a person to oversee and address legal issues on another’s behalf. A durable power of attorney remains operational upon incapacity and expires upon death.


Elder care encompasses a range of services that can be administered in homes, assisted living facilities, and skilled nursing facilities. Elder care is provided over a longer period of time and includes health-related services, personal services and social services.

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

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

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 comfort decisions, including hospice and palliative care.


Family members of a nursing home or assisted living resident meet with the facility’s administrator to communicate issues 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.


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 an individual unable to make decisions for themselves.

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 and well being.


A person appointed to legally make healthcare decisions for you in the event that you are not capable of making them yourself.

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

A home health agency is an organization that provides healthcare-related services to individuals in their places of residence. Care may involve one or more of the following services: nursing services, therapeutic services, social work services, and/or homemaker services.

A home health aide is a trained healthcare professional who provides basic health care tasks for older adults and persons who are disabled in their homes. Tasks include personal care, light house cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, and laundry. Home health aides provide home health care under the direction of a registered nurse.

Home health care are services provided to someone who needs assistance living independently and safely in their home under the home health agency. Assistance can include assistance with everyday tasks, such as meal preparation, laundry, and light housekeeping.

Hospice care is an end-of-life program that aims to provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of underlying diseases. Support is provided in the form of physical, psychological, social, and spiritual care.

An assistive device used by caregivers to safely transfer individuals with mobility challenges.

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


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.

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.

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


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 usually means having a 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 and companionship.

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 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!

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.


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.

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 healthcare team. Nursing practitioners can prescribe medications and provide some services that were formerly permitted only to doctors.

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


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, 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.


This level of care is provided to those suffering from a serious or 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 is to manage the symptoms and maximize the patient’s comfort with curative efforts if necessary.

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.

PCAs are generally limited to providing non-medical services and companionship. They may also assist in monitoring the condition of people with disabilities or chronic illnesses and help them with daily living activities.

Personal care refers to non-medical nursing services, such as assistance with bathing, dressing, eating, transferring, ambulating, using the bathroom, or any other activity of daily living (ADL) required or desired by the individual needing care.

A PERS is an alarm system an individual purchases and installs in their home. This system often has separate features that make it usable for both landlines and cell phones for accessibility in case of emergency.

A legal document in place for an individual to have the power to act on behalf of another individual.

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.


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.

Services of daily “personal care services” provided to patients. Including help with bathing, dressing, continence care, eating, transferring and “maintenance services” such as meal preparation and household cleaning.

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


Residential care facilities tend to be small private facilities, usually with 20 or fewer residents that are staffed around the clock. These facilities deliver 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.

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.

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. These activities may include physical and occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and psychiatric rehabilitation services in a variety of inpatient and/or outpatient settings.

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


Skilled care service is medical care ordered by a physician and carried out by licensed healthcare professionals such as nurses and physical therapists.

A speech therapist is a professional that helps those suffering from speech impediments or communication. 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.


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.


A powered medical device that assists a person with breathing.

A nurse employed by a health agency who treats patients in their home.

Access LifeWorx’ FREE guides on 24-Hour Care, Long-Term Care, and Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care.