Home About Services Resources Contact
Aging Family Services - elder care and geriatric management terminology

Glossary of industry terms

Don't dispair if these terms and seem overwhelming and confusing. Aging Family Serivces can guide you and help you sort out choices and options for your sepcific circumstances.

Adult Day Care
Adult day care centers provide a therapeutic environment for older adults outside the home. They provide social services and activities in a safe, supportive environment. Depending on the program, health and therapeutic care may or may not be available. It is important to check eligibility criteria.

Some centers may not accept participants who are disruptive, have other health problems or are incontinent. Participants generally attend several hours per day, up to five days a week. Transportation to and from the adult day care center may also be provided. Some centers are now offering evening and Saturday programs

Assisted Living, Family Care Homes & Adult Care Homes
All of these terms apply to homes for individuals who cannot live alone, but do not need skilled nursing. These facilities offer help with personal care and hygiene, meals, social interaction with others, and bedside care. They have 24-hour staff in case of emergencies.

In-home care
Home care can be either formal (home care agency or personal attendant) or informal (friend, family, or volunteer).

If no medical or personal care is needed, any caring, responsible person may be suitable. An ad can be placed in your local community, college, or church newspaper to search for a responsible part-time companion and chore worker.

If care involves toileting or bathing, you will need a person who is trained and competent. Similarly, if lifting the person and/or a wheel chair is necessary, be sure the worker is physically able do the work. Always check references carefully.
If medications are to be dispensed, or nursing care is required, you will likely need an LPN. A registered nurse (RN) is needed only when more complex medical care is necessary (such as treating wounds, or managing a ventilator). Medicare may be able to cover medically necessary part-time care for a home-bound older person under certain strict needs and duration-based guidelines.

Residential Placement
When a parent can no longer be cared for at home, it may be necessary to consider a residential facility. Arriving at this decision can be quite painful. Both you and your parents are likely to have strong feelings about facility placement. You may want to discuss the decision with other family members, a counselor or spiritual advisor. Or, you can make an appointment with Aging Family Services and we will be happy to help you understand your options.

Ultimately, it is important to evaluate your parent's current living situation and carefully assess how care needs can be met. Concerns about safety, your parent's ability to be left alone, medical needs, and adequate help for basic daily activities (e.g., eating, dressing, toileting, bathing, moving around) should be considered. In addition, the daily strain on the caregiver should not be ignored. If you, your sibling or parent is the primary caregiver, it is vital to recognize when caregiving demands exceed what is humanly possible. If you determine home is no longer a viable option, it is time to look at residential placements.

Residential care options are not limited to what most people refer to as nursing homes. A range of options exist for residential care. For maximum independence, senior residences offer apartment-style living with additional services such as meals, house cleaning, transportation, recreational activities and, sometimes, an on-call nurse.

Skilled Nursing Facilities
Skilled Nursing Facilities provide nursing care to residents and must be equipped to administer medications, injections and provide other nursing functions. People are often discharged from the hospital to a skilled nursing facility for rehabilitative care.

Special Care Units
Some nursing homes and assisted living facilities have special care units for individuals with Alzheimer's disease. These facilities should provide specialized care, trained staff, and secured premises. Since there is currently no federal care standard for special units, it is important to obtain information on staff credentials, resident-to-staff ratio, and the specific services offered to ensure that the unit provides a clear benefit.


Back to Resources and Articles

Aging Family Services
4812 Six Forks Rd. Suite #110 Raleigh, NC 27609 ~ (919)-781-5979