If you are beginning to search for a senior living community, one challenge you might be experiencing is understanding industry language. The terms and acronyms entrenched in senior living can be downright confusing. It can make the search process overwhelming. But making an informed decision about both a community and the appropriate level of care requires you to have a basic grasp of the terminology.
In this senior living dictionary, we’ll provide you with a description of each of the key terms you’ll likely encounter during your search. From ADLs to veterans’ benefits, here’s what you should know.
Senior Living Dictionary
- Activities of daily living (ADL): This term and its acronym describe the six basic types of activities residents of an assisted living or memory care community often require help with—bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, continence care, and walking/transferring. ADLs are frequently used as a measure for evaluating how much care a resident needs, which then helps to determine their monthly fees.
- Ambulatory/nonambulatory: These two terms are used to describe how well a person can walk on their own. It is important for determining how much assistance a potential resident will need after moving in. The greater the person’s needs, the more staff hours will be required.
- Assisted living community: Often considered to be an ideal blend of independence and support, assisted living communities are a popular solution for older adults. Residents and their families have the peace of mind that comes from knowing caregivers are always nearby. Seniors who choose this type of care will usually have a private apartment, suite, or villa, though shared suites are often available. Services typically include assistance with personal care, medication management, nutritious, chef-inspired meals, daily activities, fitness programs, emergency call systems, transportation services, and housekeeping.
- Personalized Memory Care: Sunrise utilizes personalized memory care research and proven techniques to keep residents with dementia engaged and happy. One of these is being an Authorized Validation Organization. It’s a method that uses empathy and communication to help reduce stress and increase happiness.
- Independent living community: This type of senior living focuses less on care and more on freedom and lifestyle. Independent living communities offer assistance with household maintenance and repairs so residents have more time to pursue their passions. Wellness programs and life enrichment activities are offered every day. Some communities make dining services and transportation available to independent living residents, too.
- Individualized Service Plan (ISP): Because every resident who moves to an assisted living or memory care community has unique wants and needs, creating a plan of care that addresses them is important. At Sunrise, we call it an individualized service plan. The resident, their family, and team members work together to develop and routinely update the ISP.
- Medication management: One of the reasons older adults choose to move to an assisted living or memory care community is for help managing their medicine. It is one of the most utilized services in all of senior living. That’s because medication errors send an estimated 770,000 older adults to a hospital emergency room every year.Memory care: This is a type of senior living that helps adults with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia maintain their best quality of life. Both safety and life enrichment are centerpieces of memory care. Team members who work in memory care receive specialized training to master the best practices for communicating with and supporting adults with dementia.
- Reminiscence neighborhoods: These are the neighborhoods that make up our memory care communities. Every detail is thoughtfully designed to promote success among adults with memory loss. It’s a supportive environment where you’ll find small group programming, dedicated dining services, and compassionate caregivers.
- Short stays: Also known as respite care, a short stay at a senior living community is a solution when family caregivers need a break. It’s also an option families can utilize to try the community to determine if it is a good long-term choice for a loved one. At an assisted living or memory care community, respite guests typically stay for a week or two. Depending on state laws where the community is located, a respite guest may be able to visit for one month or more.
- Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit: Veterans and spouses who are exploring senior living should also be aware of a benefit referred to as, Aid & Attendance. For those who qualify, it provides financial assistance to a veteran and spouse or to a surviving spouse. There are financial and health conditions that must be met, as well as service requirements.
If you aren’t quite sure what type of living style is best for you, the Sunrise Senior Living website can help you decide.