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Providence Glossary of Senior Healthcare Industry Terms

|   Helping ordinary people make sense of healthcare industry jargon

AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) | A nonprofit, non partisan membership organization for people age 50 and better, dedicated to enhancing quality of life for all as people age. AARP leads positive social change through information, advocacy, and service. AARP members receive a wide range of unique benefits, special products, and services.

Access | In a healthcare context, this term usually refers to a person's ability to find and obtain medical care or services.

Acute care | Short-term medical services provided to treat an illness or injury or to aid recovery from surgery. Mosby's Medical Dictionary says, "Acute care is usually given in a hospital by specialized personnel using complex and sophisticated technical equipment and materials... This pattern of care is often necessary for only a short time, unlike chronic care."

ADL (Activities of Daily Living) | Things we do in normal everyday life — feeding ourselves, bathing, dressing, grooming, etc. The ability or inability to perform ADLs can be used as a practical measure of ability and can help determine what type of living arrangement or rehab someone might need.

Ageism | Prejudice against or assumptions about people because of their chronological age. The term was coined in 1969 by Robert N. Butler, M.D., a gerontologist who considered discrimination against older people as serious as sexism and racism. Dr. Butler's definition of ageism included three elements: prejudicial attitudes towards older people; discriminatory practices against older people; and institutional practices and policies that perpetuate stereotypes about older people.

Aging services | An inclusive term for residential options, and services and care provided to older adults, usually those aged 55 and better

AL (Assisted Living) | A type of long-term care community for people who are able to get around on their own but who may need help with some activities of daily living. Some people choose Assisted Living simply because they prefer the convenience of having their meals in a central dining area and having nursing staff on call.

Alzheimer's Disease | A progressive and incurable disease that destroys brain cells, causing problems with memory, thinking, speech, and behavior, named after the German physician who first described it. "Alzheimer's" and "dementia" are often used interchangeably, but Alzheimer's is actually one type of dementia. Alzheimer's Disease is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States today. The disease itself cannot yet be cured, but advances in understanding the effects have led to treatments that ease both the symptoms of the sufferer and the frustration of the caregivers.

Ambulatory care | Medical service provided on an outpatient basis. Ambulatory care may include diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation.

"Boomer" | A shortened form of "Baby boomer," a term used to describe anyone who was born during the post-World War II baby boom between 1946 and 1964. The "boomer generation" is a diverse cohort of 76 million people.

Catastrophic illness | A highly serious and costly condition that threatens life or quality of life and usually imposes financial hardship

CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community) | A community that offers varying levels of care within the same system, allowing people to "buy in" at a set price and take advantage of more services and higher levels of care as they age.

Chronic illness | A life-long condition or disease that will not improve and typically results in long-term care needs. Examples include Alzheimer's Disease, diabetes, and arthritis.

Custodial care | Medical or non-medical services intended to maintain a current level of health, rather than curing or improving. Much long-term nursing care is considered custodial as the medical condition of the patient is not expected to change.

Dementia | Loss of memory and other intellectual abilities to a degree severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer's Disease is one form of dementia.

Disability | A limitation that interferes with a person's ability to function in society without special equipment or treatment.

Geriatrics | A branch of medicine that studies the diseases, disabilities, and health of older people.

Gerontology | The study of the social, psychological, and biological aspects of aging.

"G.I. Generation" | The cohort of people born between 1901 and 1926, who endured the Great Depression and the first World War. They are generally considered assertive, energetic, even heroic.

HIPAA (Health Information Portability and Accountability Act) | A legal act enforced by the Office of Civil Rights to protect the privacy of people who use various healthcare services.

Hospice | A care situation designed to enhance the final days of a patient diagnosed with a terminal illness who has less than six months to live. Hospice services are usually offered in the patient's own home.

IL (Independent Living) | Community living for people who are able to get around on their own and need no medical care or help with daily activities. Many people choose an Independent Living community when they want to maintain their independence and escape the maintenance requirements of typical home ownership.

Inpatient | A person who has been admitted to a hospital for a stay of at least 24 hours to receive services under a doctor's orders.

Joint Commission | An independent, not-for-profit organization that evaluates and accredits more than 15,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. The Joint Commission is the nation's predominant standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. The healthcare and rehabilitation campuses that are part of the Providence Life Services family have all been accredited by The Joint Commission.

LeadingAge (formerly American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging) | An organization made up of 5,400 mission-driven, not-for-profit organizations dedicated to providing services for aging people and their families. Member organizations offer a variety of services, including adult day services, home health, community services, senior housing, assisted living residences, continuing care retirement communities and nursing homes. The stated focus of LeadingAge is on “advocacy, leadership development, and applied research and promotion of effective services.” Providence Life Services is a member of LeadingAge.

LOC (Level Of Care) | An indication of the type of services or medical care needed by a potential resident, or the type of care offered by a facility. Typical LOCs include independent (retirement) living, sheltered care, intermediate care, and skilled care.

LTC (Long-term care) | Care usually provided in a skilled nursing facility for people who need continuing assistance because of a physical or mental disability.

Long-term care insurance | Financial coverage for the costs associated with healthcare, including, in some cases, residential care.

LSN (Life Services Network) | The largest eldercare association in Illinois, LSN sponsors high-quality educational opportunities, and they lobby to support not-for-profit interests in Springfield. Providence Life Services is a member of LSN.

Medicare / Medicaid | Two distinct government programs offering financial assistance with health care expenses. Medicare is a federal program available to everyone aged 65 and older, and to some younger people with disabilities. Medicaid is a state-administered program specifically for lower-income families.

Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC) | A retirement community that is organized out of a community or neighborhood of residents who have aged together as neighbors.

Outpatient | Someone who has received medical or healthcare services without being admitted to a hospital.

Palliative care | Any medical treatment that focuses on easing symptoms rather than curing the causative disease. Palliative care may be combined with curative care, or, as in the case of Hospice, it may replace curative care.

Pre-existing condition | A term used by insurance companies to describe a physical or mental condition that becomes known to the individual before the insurance policy is issued.

Preventive health services | Services designed to prevent a disease from occurring, or minimize its consequences.

Primary care physician | A doctor who serves as the patient's first point of contact with the healthcare system, and who is primarily responsible for the patient's medical care.

Private Duty | A type of care that is typically non-medical in nature, designed to help people with activities of daily living, such as preparing meals, doing laundry, or running errands. Private Duty services can be performed in a person's home or in a care facility.

Provider | Any healthcare professional or institution that offers health services or healthcare products. Hospitals, senior living communities, rehabilitation facilities, physicians, and nurses are all considered providers.

Referral | Written permission from a primary care physician for a patient to receive services from a specialist or other provider.

Respite care | Short-term care given by another caregiver, for the purpose of giving the usual caregiver a rest. Many retirement communities and Assisted Living communities offer Respite Care, allowing people to stay for a set length of time, experiencing both the care and the social interaction offered by the community. It is common for people who are considering moving into a retirement community to take advantage of a Respite Stay to decide whether or not they like the community enough to live there.

"Silents" | A shortened form of the term "Silent Generation," which describes people born between 1927 and 1945. This generation is generally noted for their deference to the previous generation, the “G.I. Generation,” and for their general attitude of acceptance in order to accomplish a task.

SNF (Skilled Nursing Facility) | An establishment that provides nursing care, rehabilitation, and other medical services to people who are chronically ill or elderly patients. Also called long-term care facility, nursing home.

Tertiary care | Services from highly specialized providers that often require highly sophisticated technologies and facilities

Triage | The classification of sick or injured persons according to severity of need. Triage is conducted in order to ensure the most efficient and effective use of medical staff and facilities

Have you run across an acronym or term you'd like us to add to this page? Email us at info@provlife.com!

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