Retirement Community Terms

Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORC)

They can involve low-income residents receiving a richer mix of public services through a NORC model. They might serve people of all income levels who got together to furnish cost-effective transportation services. And there are NORCs for relatively affluent households that may charge $1,000 or even more in annual dues, and support paid and volunteer staffers who provide a rich variety of support services and cultural enrichment activities. NORCs can be very effective mechanisms to identify populations of people who need government-provided services and then provide those services in cost-effective ways.

Assisted Living

a special combination of housing and health-related care designed to respond to the individual needs of those who require help with activities of daily living. Assisted Living is a non-institutional setting that promotes maximum independence and dignity for each resident and encourages family and community involvement. Staff is available 24 hours a day to meet scheduled and unscheduled needs.

Services typically provided in assisted living residences, depending on the type of facility, needs of individual residents and the population served, include:

  • Three meals a day served in a common dining area
  • Housekeeping services
  • Transportation
  • Assistance with eating, bathing, dressing, toileting and walking
  • Access to health and medical services
  • 24-hour security and staff availability
  • Emergency call systems for each resident’s unit
  • Health promotion and exercise programs
  • Medication management
  • Personal laundry services
  • Social and recreational activities

Activities of Daily Living – ADL

Routine activities that people tend do everyday without needing assistance. There are six basic ADLs: eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring (walking) and continence. An individual’s ability to perform ADLs is important for determining what type of long-term care (e.g. nursing-home care or home care) and coverage the individual needs (i.e. Medicare, Medicaid or long-term care insurance).


In most cases, a licensed professional who undertakes the duty of managing the day-to-day operations of a care facility such as a nursing home or assisted living facility.

Adult Day Care

Adult day care is a planned program of activities designed to promote well-being though social and health related services. Adult day care centers operate during daytime hours, Monday through Friday, in a safe, supportive, cheerful environment. Nutritious meals that accommodate special diets are typically included, along with an afternoon snack.

Advantage List

List of health service providers that agree to give particular insurance company policyholders a preset discount. (from LTCInsurance)

Aging in Place

“Aging in place” is growing older without having to move. According to the Journal of Housing for
the Elderly, it is not having to move from one’s present residence in order to secure necessary support services in response to changing need.

Alzheimer’s Care Center

A treatment center that specializes in providing care for those with Alzheimer’s Disease with more of the care geared towards supervision of the patient in a safe and controlled environment. (from LTCInsurance)


A progressive, neurodegenerative disease characterized by loss of function and death of nerve cells in several areas of the brain, leading to loss of mental functions such as memory and learning. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. (from the Alzheimer’s Association)


Capable of walking; not bedridden.


An evaluation, usually performed by a physician, of a person’s mental, emotional, and social capabilities. (from AA)


The primary person in charge of caring for an individual with Alzheimer’s disease, usually a family member or a designated health care professional.(from AA)

Case management

A term used to describe formal services planned by care professionals. (from AA)

Charge Nurse

Plans, directs, and evaluates the overall nursing care and functions in a particular nursing unit or during an assigned shift. Coordinates the activities of the unit and directs, organizes, and assigns work to the nursing staff. Assesses, monitors, and educates the nursing staff on patient care. Institutes emergency procedures as necessary.

Congregate Housing

is similar to independent living except that it usually provides convenience or supportive services like meals, housekeeping, and transportation in addition to rental housing. (from AA)

Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)

A continuing care retirement community (CCRC) is a community that offers several levels of assistance, including independent living, assisted living and nursing home care. It is different from other housing and care facilities for seniors because it usually provides a written agreement or long-term contract between the resident (frequently lasting the term of the resident’s lifetime) and the community which offers a continuum of housing, services and health care system, commonly all on one campus or site. (from AA)

Continuum of Care

Care services available to assist individuals throughout the course of a disease. This may include Independent Living, Assisted Living, Nursing Care, Home Health, Home Care, and Home and Community Based Services.


The loss of intellectual functions (such as thinking, remembering, and reasoning) of sufficient severity to interfere with a person’s daily functioning. Dementia is not a disease itself but rather a group of symptoms that may accompany certain diseases or conditions. Symptoms may also include changes in personality, mood, and behavior. Dementia is irreversible when caused by disease or injury but may be reversible when caused by drugs, alcohol, hormone or vitamin imbalances, or depression. (from Alzheimer’s Assoc.)

Developmental Disability (DD)

A mental or physical disability, such as cerebral palsy or mental retardation, arising before adulthood and usually lasting throughout life.

Director of Nursing (DON)

Administers the nursing program in hospital, nursing home, or other medical facility to maintain standards of patient care; advises medical staff, department heads, and administrators in matters related to nursing service. Recommends establishment or revision of policies and develops organizational structure and standards of performance.

Financial Counseling Programs

Help seniors with managing their finances, bills, and completing Medicaid, Medicare or insurance forms. (from LTCInsurance)

HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996)

This act became a law on January 1, 1997. The act states the requirements that a long term care policy must follow in order that the premiums paid may be deducted as medical expenses and benefits not paid be considered as taxable income. (from LTCINSURANCE)


A corporation financed by insurance premiums whose member physicians and professional staff provide curative and preventive medicine within certain financial, geographic, and professional limits to enrolled volunteer members and their families.

Home Health Care

Provision of medical and nursing services in the individual’s home by a licensed provider

Hospice Care

Hospice programs are available to help terminally ill individuals live their remaining days with dignity. These programs can assist the family (or other designated caregiver) in making the patient as comfortable as possible, and assistance is available around the clock, seven days a week.(

Independent Living

is a residential living setting for elderly or senior adults that may or may not provide hospitality or supportive services. Under this living arrangement, the senior adult leads an independent lifestyle that requires minimal or no extra assistance. Generally referred to as elderly housing in the government-subsidized environment, independent living also includes rental assisted or market rate apartments or cottages where residents usually have complete choice in whether to participate in a facility’s services or programs. (from ALFA)

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs)

Secondary level of activities (different from ADLs, such as eating, dressing, and bathing) important to daily living, such as cooking, writing, and driving. (from AA)


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Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

These individuals usually have twelve months to two years of training in anatomy and physiology, medications, and practical patient care. They must pass state or national boards (such as NCLEX-PN in the U.S.) and renew their license periodically.

LPNs can perform simple as well as complex medical procedures, but must operate under the supervision of either a professional registered nurse (RN) or a physician. They can administer most medications (usually with the exception of IV push medications), perform measurements (blood pressure, temperature, etc), maintain patient records, help with patient-care planning, surgery, first aid, CPR, sterile and isolation procedure and basic care.

LPNs must at least be high school graduates. They follow the rules of State Boards of Nursing. Requirements for taking boards usually include a clean criminal record and graduation from an approved vocational nursing program.

Living Will

A written document, which states the wishes of an individual in advance concerning the use of life saving devices and procedures in the event that the person is terminally ill or has suffered an injury and is no longer competent. (from LTCInsurance)

Long-Term Care

Care given in the form of medical and support services to persons who have lost some or all of their capacity to function due to an illness or disability. (from LTCInsurance)

Long-term Care Insurance

The insurance which pays for a succession of care giving services for the elderly or chronically ill. This care may be provided in a facility (nursing home, mental hospital, etc.) or in the individual’s home with a nurse or aide. (from LTCInsurance)

Managed Care

Managed care is a broad term and encompasses many different types of organizations, payment mechanisms, review mechanisms and collaborations. Managed care is sometimes used as a general term for the activity of organizing doctors, hospitals, and other providers into groups in order to enhance the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care.


Public assistance funded through the state to individuals unable to pay for health care. Medicaid can be accessed only when all prior assets and funds are depleted. There are income eligibility criteria that must be met to qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid accounts for about 52 percent of the nation’s care costs, and is the source of payment for almost 70 percent of residents in nursing homes. Medicaid can reimburse Nursing Facilities for the long-term care of qualifying seniors, and in some states, Medicaid pays for Assisted Living care through Medicaid waivers. (from LTCInsurance)


Medicare is a national health insurance program created and administered by the federal government in the United States to address the medical needs of older American citizens. Medicare is available to U.S. citizens 65 years of age and older and some people with disabilities under age 65.

The “Original Medicare” program has two parts: Part A (Hospital Insurance), and Part B (Medical Insurance). Only a few special cases exist where prescription drugs are covered by Original Medicare, but as of January 2006, Medicare Part D provides more comprehensive drug coverage

Medical Director

A Medical Director is typically a board certified physician who is responsible for providing recommendations to EMS agencies. The Medical Director may also assist the agency in extending its Scope of Practice.


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Medigap Insurance

Private health insurance that is used to pay costs not covered by Medicare, such as deductibles and co-insurance (from LTCInsurance)

National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)

A national organization made up of state officials who are in charge of regulating insurance. They have considerable influence and strive to promote national uniformity in insurance regulations. (from LTCInsurance)


Inability to walk independently, usually bedridden or hospitalized.


A nonprofit organization (abbreviated “NPO”, or “non-profit” or “not-for-profit”) is an organization whose primary objective is to support an issue or matter of private interest or public concern for non-commercial purposes. Nonprofits may be involved in an innumerable range of areas relating to the arts, charities, education, politics, religion, research, sports or some other endeavor.

Nurse Assistant

Certified nursing assistants (CNAs), also known as nurses aides, orderlies, patient care technicians, and home health aides, work under the supervision of a nurse and provide assistance to patients with daily living tasks.

Working closely with patients, CNAs are responsible for basic care services such as bathing, grooming and feeding patients, assisting nurses with medical equipment, and checking patient vital signs. CNAs give patients important social and emotional support and also provide vital information on patient conditions to nurses.

Nursing Home

A nursing home or skilled nursing facility (SNF), also known as a rest home, is a type of care of residents: it is a place of residence for people who require constant nursing care and have significant deficiencies with activities of daily living. Residents include the elderly and younger adults with physical disabilities. Adults 18 or older can stay in a skilled nursing facility to receive physical, occupational, and other rehabilitative therapies following an accident or illness.

Occupational Therapy (OT)

is an applied science and health profession that provides skilled treatment to help individuals develop, regain or maintain the skills necessary to participate in all facets of their lives. OT gives people the “skills for the job of living” necessary for living meaningful and satisfying lives.

Physical Therapy

is the provision of services to people and populations to develop, maintain and restore maximum movement and functional ability throughout the lifespan. It includes the provision of services in circumstances where movement and function are threatened by the process of ageing or that of injury or disease. The method of physical therapy sees full and functional movement as at the heart of what it means to be healthy.

Quality care

Term used to describe care and services that allow recipients to attain and maintain their highest level of mental, physical, and psychological function, in a dignified and caring way.

Registered Nurse (RN)

is a health care professional responsible for implementing the practice of nursing through the use of the nursing process (in concert with other health care professionals). Registered nurses work as patient advocates for the care and recovery of the sick and maintenance of the healthy. In their work as advocates for the patient, RNs ensure that the patient receives appropriate and professional care. RNs use the nursing process to assess, plan, implement, and evaluate nursing care of the sick and injured.

Respite Care

Services that provide people with temporary relief from tasks associated with care giving (e.g., in-home assistance, short nursing home stays, adult day care). (from AA)

Senior Apartments

Senior age-restricted apartments are usually 55 or 62+ and follow HUD regulations which allow for such “age discrimination”. If restirctions are 55+, at least one person in the apartment must be at least 55 and the apartment community must have no more than 20% of all residents under the age of 55. If they are 62+, than ALL residents must be at least 62.

Exceptions are made by HUD regulations for renters who are under the minimum age, if they are handicapped.

Senior Citizen Policies

Insurance policies for those over the age of 65. In many cases these policies are in combination with coverage provided by the government under the Medicare Program. (from LTCInsurance)

Support group

Facilitated gathering of caregivers, family, friends, or others affected by a disease or condition for the purpose of discussing issues related to the disease. (from AA)