Dear Donna,

I am helping my parents explore their senior living options. I keep coming across terminology I have never heard before.

Can you help me decode senior living lingo?



Understanding Senior Living Lingo

Dear Tina,

Senior living is a new topic for most families, so it’s understandable that many become overwhelmed when they start exploring their options. On top of that, the industry is complicated and full of jargon. Here are a few common terms you may come across during your search for senior living:

  • Activities of daily living (ADLs): The everyday self-care tasks a person must be able to complete to remain independent. These tasks commonly include feeding, bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, and moving from one place to another.
  • Adult day care: A program for adults who need supervision or support during the day.
  • Aging in place: When a person chooses to live in their home as they age.
  • Assisted living: A community that provides seniors with the support they need to perform necessary daily tasks while maintaining as much independence as possible.
  • Continuum of care: The variety of senior care options available at a community. Heritage Senior Communities, for example, offers independent living, licensed assisted living, specialized dementia care, and respite care.
  • Convalescent home: A home that provides short-term care and recovery to patients after major surgery or long-term illness.
  • Home care: Nonmedical assistance provided to seniors in their home. Services typically include those that enable the senior to live on their own.
  • Home health care: Health care services given at the senior’s home to help them recover from an illness or injury. Services may include wound care, patient and caregiver education, or monitoring a health condition.
  • Hospice: A type of care that occurs at the end of a person’s life. It focuses on improving their comfort and quality of life as opposed to trying to cure them.
  • Independent living: A senior living option that allows seniors to maintain their independence without the responsibilities that come with owning a home.
  • Instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs): The activities necessary for fundamental living, but not necessary to live independently. They include tasks like managing finances and transportation.
  • Long-term care: Medical or support services provided to seniors who have lost some or all of their ability to function. It usually refers to nursing home care.
  • Nursing home: A temporary place to stay that provides 24-hour nursing care for residents with chronic conditions.
  • Occupational therapy: A type of therapy that helps seniors relearn activities of daily living.
  • Palliative care: A type of care that specializes in relieving pain and chronic suffering for patients. Similar to hospice care, palliative care focuses on improving the senior’s overall quality of life. The main difference is that palliative care can begin at diagnosis, while hospice care only begins when it’s clear that the illness is life-limiting.
  • Physical therapy: A type of therapy that introduces specific exercises to improve physical mobility, strength, and overall functioning. It is usually provided after a fall, stroke, or other accident.
  • Sandwich generation: Adult children who care for both their aging parents and their own children.
  • Senior apartments: Housing units for independent adults who meet a minimum age requirement.
  • Senior Move Manager: Professionals that specialize in helping seniors relocate.
  • Respite care: Care that temporarily relieves a primary caregiver from their caregiving responsibilities. This type of care may be provided in the senior’s home or during a short stay in a senior living community. Respite care may last anywhere from a few hours to several weeks depending on individual need.

As you can see, there is a lot to learn about senior living. Hopefully, this gives you a good start!



Heritage Senior Communities

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Linden Square Assisted Living location, offers support to seniors and their families exploring senior living options. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.