Glossary of Terms

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Admissions counselors help seniors transition into their respective communities by answering questions, giving tours, coordinating finances and helping to select the best possible living arrangements and/or level of care.

Adult day care refers to a community-based program that provides a structured setting for adults who are cognitively or functionally impaired, but receive their principal care at home from family and/or friends. Often used for respite care, adult day care facilities generally operate during regular business hours and provide socialization, meals, assistance with medication and therapies. There may also be medical staff on site all or part of the time.

Adult day services enable people to spend their daytime hours in an organized setting with engaging pastimes. There are usually both physically and mentally stimulating activities, as well as socialization with others. Some day care programs are designed especially for people experiencing memory loss such as early stage Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Advancing Excellence in America’s Nursing Homes is a coalition-based campaign to improve the quality of life for residents and staff in America’s nursing homes. The coalition includes long-term care providers, caregivers, medical and quality improvement experts, consumers, government agencies and other quality-focused organizations. The goal of the campaign is to strengthen the public trust in nursing home care by focusing on quality improvement and self-regulation. The campaign acknowledges the critical role of nursing home staff and consumers in improving quality of care and quality of life for nursing home residents.

Aging Waiver The Home and Community Based Waiver service available for Pennsylvanians over the age of 60 to help provide support and services in their homes. Individuals must meet certain eligibility requirements. 

APPRISE  Pennsylvania’s free health insurance counseling program. It is designed to provide older adults with easy-to-understand information about Medicare, Medicare Supplemental Insurance, Medicaid, and Long-Term Care Insurance. 

Area Agencies on Aging were established under the Older Americans Act (OAA) in 1973 to respond to the needs of Americans age 60 and older in local communities. By providing a range of options that allow older adults to choose the home and community-based services and living arrangements that suit them best, Area Agencies on Aging make it possible for older adults to remain in their homes and communities as long as possible.

Assisted living and/or personal care refers to specialized living arrangements for individuals who may be functionally or socially impaired but do not need 24-hour supervision. Assisted living and/or personal care enables many people to stay active and in control of their own lives by providing as much or as little assistance as needed to support their independence. In addition to providing meals and housekeeping services, assisted living/personal care communities provide help with dressing, medication, occasional orientation and direction, transportation and social activities.



Care managers help to determine what services are needed. Care managers work with individuals to develop a plan that best fits their lifestyles and arrange any necessary services.

Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) reviews and grants accreditation services nationally and internationally at the request of a facility or program.

Congregate meal programs offer free or low-cost meals in a group setting, often in a senior center or senior housing.

Continuing Care Accreditation Commission (CCAC) is the only accrediting organization for continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) and other aging services networks. It was established in 1965 to ensure that retirement communities fulfill their responsibilities in providing quality aging related services. To further monitor these centers, CCAC merged with the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) in 2003. Organizations must meet strict guidelines and specifications to receive accreditation.

Continuing Care at Home (CCaH)  A life care plan for healthy older adults to assist them to maintain independence and age in place through wellness coordination and programming.  It also provides short term and/or long term care services at home or in a facility as care needs change. 

Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) is a type of retirement community that offers independent living, as well as the long-term health care of assisted living and/or personal care and nursing. Residents are able to age in place, moving from one setting to another as needs change, but staying in the same residential community.



Equal Housing Opportunity (EHO) indicates that the organization does not discriminate based on ancestry, race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status or national origin.


Financial counseling programs provide assistance with balancing checkbooks, filing taxes and paying bills, as well as completing Medicaid, Medicare or other insurance forms.

Friendly Visiting provides volunteers who will come to visit in one’s home.




Health education and wellness programs maintain people’s health through direct teaching, counseling and similar services.

Home and community-based services offer everything from help with housekeeping chores to health care services to making social opportunities more readily available. They can even provide the reassuring service of calling daily just to check on someone. Caregivers coping with a family member’s chronic illness or disability may also benefit from these services, particularly if they work outside the home or have other major demands on their time.

Home health care offers a variety of health care services in the home, such as providing wound care and health education, administering medication and monitoring health concerns. Home health aides may assist with personal hygiene, prescribed exercises and other personal care under the supervision of a licensed nurse. Physical, occupational and speech therapies, and social worker services also may be provided in the home.

Home-delivered meals, usually provided by the Meals-on-Wheels organization, deliver nutritionally balanced meals to homes for those who are unable to prepare their own.

Homemaker or chore services help with different chores around the house, such as cleaning, preparing meals or doing laundry. They also help with shopping, running errands, driving and companionship.

Hospice delivers nursing care to terminally ill people, as well as counseling for their families. Hospice care can be provided in nursing homes, hospice centers or in the individual’s home, where nurses, social workers and volunteers can visit regularly.


Independent living refers to senior residences designed for people who are in good physical and mental health and able to live on their own without assistance. Information and assistance services offer information about services and resources in the area.


Joint Commission of Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) evaluates and accredits more than 15,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. Since 1951, this independent, not-for-profit organization has maintained state-of-the-art standards for the quality and safety of care provided by health care organizations. Joint Commission accreditation and certification is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting these standards. To earn and maintain the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval™, an organization must undergo an on-site survey by a Joint Commission survey team at least every three years.




LeadingAge, LeadingAge PA’s national affiliate, helps millions of individuals and their families every day through mission-driven, not-for-profit organizations dedicated to providing the services that people need as they age. LeadingAge is composed of 5,700 member organizations, many of which have served their communities for generations with a continuum of aging services, such as adult day services, home health, community services, senior housing, assisted living residences, continuing care retirement communities and nursing homes.
LIFE (Living Independence for the Elderly) is a managed care program for aging individuals who have been determined to need nursing facility care but wish to remain in their homes and communities as long as possible. The program is known nationally as the Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). All PACE providers in Pennsylvania have the name "LIFE" in their name.

Long-term care insurance is designed to cover a variety of aging services, including assisted living, retirement communities and adult day care. Long-term care insurance typically pays daily rates to providers. Because every policy is different, individuals should find out exactly what levels of care and services their potential insurers would cover as well as the policies’ payment caps.

Long-Term Care Ombudsman Established under the Older Americans Act, these are advocates for residents of nursing homes, personal care homes, and assisted living facilities.  



Medicaid is a program that covers individuals’ health care costs once all of their own resources have been expended. To qualify for Medicaid, people must complete a state application to verify their assets. Federal policy requires states to examine an individual’s financial history for the previous five years to ensure assets have not been transferred to avoid using them for health care costs.

Medicare is a health insurance program for people age 65 and older and certain disabled individuals. Medicare covers a limited amount of long-term care, including:

  • Nursing home care after a hospital stay of at least three days -- this coverage requires substantial insurance co-payments after the first 20 days, and can be used for no more than 100 days.
  • Short-term services through a home care agency -- these services can be delivered wherever one lives, including an assisted living facility. Medicare does not usually cover assisted living costs.
  • Homecare -- only if one is homebound and has been prescribed therapy or nursing care by a physician.

Medicare coverage is limited to services that will assist in recovery from a medical problem. It may not extend coverage for chronic care needs, like those with Alzheimer’s disease.


Nursing care refers to facilities that provide housing, personal care, nursing care and medical services for individuals who need 24-hour supervision. They also offer different kinds of therapies to assist in recovery from an illness or surgery. Some include memory support care for people with moderate to severe loss due to Alzheimer’s or dementia. Nursing care can mean a short- or long-term stay, depending on the level and type of care needed, and is provided in CCRCs and stand-alone facilities.



Older Adult Protective Services Activities, resources, and supports provided to adults 60 and older to detect, prevent, reduce, or eliminate abuse, neglect, exploitation, and abandonment.  


PACE (Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly) are Pennsylvania’s prescription assistance programs for seniors offering low-cost prescription medication to qualified persons age 65 and older.

Private duty companions provide help with grooming tasks such as bathing and dressing.


Quality First, a program of LeadingAge, is built on a philosophy of quality and a framework for earning public trust in aging services. More importantly, participation demonstrates a provider’s commitment to helping older adults and their loved ones live their lives to their fullest potential.


Rehabilitation services offer different kinds of therapies (physical, occupational and speech) to assist in recovery from an illness or surgery.

Respite care provides time off for family members caring for loved ones who are ill, injured or frail. Caregivers need time away to relieve stress, prevent burnout and attend other events in their lives. Respite care provides planned, temporary, substitute care for a day, a weekend or even longer, as in the case of a vacation. Care is usually provided in the individual’s home, but may also be provided in an adult day care center or the residential setting of an assisted living or nursing facility.

Retirement community is a group of independent living residences typically arranged in a campus-style setting. The type of residence can range from efficiency apartments to twostory, 3-bedroom cottages with garages. Homes can often be customized with special features such as upgraded appliances, crown molding, hardwood floors and sunroom additions. Most retirement communities today include a wide variety of appealing on-site amenities, conveniences, enrichment programs and services.


Senior centers provide a place where people can come together for social and recreational activities.

Senior housing consists of apartment style residences designed to make life easier for seniors. Features may include railings in bathrooms, power outlets higher up on the wall and even 24-hour emergency call service. Some places also offer services such as meals, transportation, social activities and other programs. Government subsidies make this type of supportive, quality housing more affordable for low-income seniors.


Telephone reassurance is particularly helpful for those who live alone or are alone during the day. This service provides a daily check-in to make sure an individual is okay.

Transportation services make it possible to go to and from shopping centers, doctor’s appointments, senior centers and other places.