Senior Care Terms Defined

Choosing the right care for your loved one is difficult and overwhelming. When it comes to senior care, there are so many terms that are so similar, yet mean the difference between necessary and inadequate care for your loved one.

The language surrounding senior care has been changing, so here is a list of compiled senior care terms to help you make the right decision for your loved one.

Assisted Living

Those who want help with daily tasks like meal preparation, medication management, and activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, etc., but do not require the medical care that comes with living in a nursing home have needs that fit with assisted living.

Assisted living communities must meet certain requirements that allow seniors to age in place.They must offer residents refrigerators, microwaves, and personal living units with locking doors. Personal bathrooms must have toilets, sinks, wall mirrors, shower/tub, and an emergency notification system. A maximum of two people can share a living unit. With regards to care, an assisted living community must have a licensed nurse on duty and a registered dietician on staff at all times. They may also offer memory care and physical therapy. More specific requirements for care and staffing can be found on the Department of Human Services website. It is important to note that Pennsylvania licenses both assisted living and personal care communities to provide for individuals needing this level of assistance.

Life Plan Community or Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)

A Life Plan Community, also referred to as a Continuing Care Retirement Community or CCRC, provides seniors the freedom of independent living combined with the comfort of having medical care and staff on site. Life Plan Communities are designed to grow with seniors as their needs change. These communities help residents to transition from independent living to personal care, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, or other senior care options. An important distinction between Life Plan Communities and independent living communities is that Life Plan Communities typically require an entrance fee as a part of the commitment from the community to provide lifelong care.

Nursing Home or Health Care

Nursing homes provide a higher level of medical care than can be acquired from an assisted living or personal care community. Nursing homes provide round-the-clock nursing care, prepared meals, rehab services such as physical, occupational, and speech therapy, and complete assistance with activities of daily living. They are federally regulated and can accept Medicare and Medicaid. At Living Branches we refer to this part of the community as Health Care.

Independent Senior Living or Independent Living

Independent senior living is for those who want to live on their own in an apartment, house, villa, condo, etc., but take advantage of senior community perks, including no-maintenance living. In addition by moving to independent living, residents can join a community of like-minded individuals of similar ages and with similar interests. They can take classes and participate in as many fun community activities as they choose. Seniors in independent living communities only pay for the services and amenities they are enjoying at that time, and not the care or medical services at an assisted living or personal care community.

Residential Living

Residential Living is another term for independent living. At Living Branches residents have the choice of apartments, villas, or cottages with various floor plans and prices. Seniors live independently but gain a close community and have the convenience of Residential Living amenities such as dining options and a fitness center at their fingertips.

Residential Care

Residential care facilities are small, private facilities with fewer than 20 residents. Residents live in either shared or private rooms and receive care and meal preparation although medical staff are not on site. Residents of residential care facilities may be elders, but they may also be children, have disabilities, mental illness, learning disabilities, Alzheimer’s, or any other condition that requires assistance and care.

Supportive Living

Supportive Living is a description for any community providing care for residents. The goal of supportive living is to improve the quality of life of residents, whether they reside in personal care, memory care, assisted living, or skilled nursing.

Personal Care

Personal Care was distinguished from assisted living in Pennsylvania in 2011. Personal Care communities are similar to assisted living communities, although they are licensed through a different office of the PA Department of Human Services. Personal Care communities encourage residents to be as independent as possible by providing support to residents. At a minimum Personal Care provides meals, housekeeping and laundry services, as well as whatever assistance with activities of daily living each resident may need. For some this may mean bathing or dressing assistance, administering medications, or simply reminding residents of opportunities for socialization through activity programming.

Memory Care (Memory Support)

Memory Care is a special level of support provided for those with moderate to advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s. Memory Care involves expert care to ensure a structured, routine based, and safe environment. Specially trained team members work with individuals to help slow memory loss through specific activities, community engagement, and fitness and diet programs. Memory Care communities provide round-the-clock supervised care with carefully constructed layouts designed to promote resident safety and security.

Rehabilitation or Skilled Nursing

A rehabilitation community is designed for seniors to achieve rehabilitation goals, typically after a medical or health incident. Some rehab communities are free-standing buildings; many are within a skilled nursing community. Wherever the location, residents do not stay long term at a rehab community. Rehabs provide nursing and medical staff, such as physical or occupational therapists, who work with patients so they may return to their home or the larger skilled nursing community.

Long Term Care

Long term care describes any care that does not focus on acute illness or diagnosis but instead manages daily struggles with everyday tasks and medical symptoms. Long term care can be delivered in nursing homes, skilled nursing, assisted living, or personal care communities.

Home Health Care

Home health care encapsulates a wide range of medical services provided by nurses or therapists for injuries or chronic illness. A health care provider comes to the home to provide medical services on a regular basis.

Home Care

As opposed to home health care, home care provides non-medical help with activities of daily living. Tasks that home care helps with include meal preparation, dressing or bathing, reminders to take medication, transportation, and companionship.

Senior Care at Living Branches

Learn more about the variety of senior care options offered at Living Branches, including Personal Care, Memory Care, Health Care, and more! Living Branches will work with you and your loved ones to make sure the right type of care and services are provided. Contact Living Branches today to speak with an expert about your senior care needs.