Let’s make sure we are speaking the same language

Here’s a brief intro to words and expressions you may hear for the first time when exploring your options for senior living. Knowing these words may help — but if anyone says anything you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask them to say it again in plain English!

Advance directive (living will): A document written when in “good” health that informs an individual’s family and health care providers of wishes for extended medical treatment in times of emergency.

Alzheimer’s: Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that causes memory loss and problems with thinking and behavior severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies or social life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 50 to 70 percent of dementia cases. Every 70 seconds, someone will develop Alzheimer’s.

Assisted Living: Assisted Living is for those 55+ who want to live as independently as possible, but may desire assistance with some of the activities of daily living such as laundry, housekeeping, bathing, dressing, transferring/walking, or medication management.

Dementia: Dementia is not a specific disease. It is a descriptive term for a collection of symptoms that can be caused by a number of disorders that affect the brain. While memory loss is a common symptom of dementia, memory loss by itself does not mean that a person has dementia. Doctors diagnose dementia only if two or more brain functions — such as memory, language skills, perception, or cognitive skills including reasoning and judgment — are significantly impaired without loss of consciousness.

Enhanced Care: Enhanced Care is for seniors that need a higher level of service and regular assistance with the activities of daily living.

Hospice Care: Hospice care and comfort measures are provided to those with a terminal illness and their families- it can include medical, counseling, and social services.

Medicaid: A jointly funded medical financial Federal-State health insurance assistance program, offering benefits to individuals with limited financial resources, the disabled, and the elderly. There are income eligibility criteria which must be met to qualify for Medicaid. A person must have exhausted nearly all assets and be in a skilled nursing facility to participate in this program. Medicaid can reimburse skilled nursing facilities for the long-term care of qualifying seniors, and in some states, Medicaid pays for assisted living through Medicaid waivers.

Medicare: Nationwide medical insurance program administered by the Social Security Administration for individuals 65 and over and certain disabled people, regardless of income. Provides for hospital and nursing facility care (Part A) and physician services, therapies, and home health care (Part B).

Medicare Part A: Helps pay for care in a hospital or skilled nursing facility, home healthcare and hospice care.

Medicare Part B: Helps pay for doctors, outpatient hospital care and other medical services not requiring hospitalization.

Memory Care: Memory Care offers specialized care for individuals with memory impairments such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Occupational Therapy: Occupational Therapy coaches show individuals how to achieve their maximum level of ability to perform daily living tasks and activities. OT may focus on relearning cognitive skills of increasing independence in daily activities such as bathing, dressing and grooming.

Physical Therapy: Physical Therapy helps individuals obtain and maintain the highest possible level of physical functioning. Treatment may focus on exercise techniques as well as strengthening and pain relief. The goal of PT is to make daily tasks and activities easier, including walking, going upstairs and getting in and out of bed.

Speech Therapy: Speech Therapy helps individuals improve any impaired speech functions and regain their communication skills. Qualified therapists also complete an assessment and provide treatment for swallowing.

Respite Care: Respite Care provides temporary relief from duties for caregivers, ranging from several hours to days. May be provided in-home or in a residential care setting such as an assisted living community or skilled nursing facility.

Senior Living with Services: Senior Living with Services is for those 55+ who want to live as independently as possible and prefer the socialization, comfort, and meals offered in a community. This option includes some services to make daily life a little more worry-free.

Skilled Nursing: Skilled Nursing provides round-the-clock assistance and medical attention on either a long-term or short-term basis. Skilled nursing can include restorative nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language pathology.

Transitional Care: Transitional Care is for those who need to regain strength and independence after surgery, injury or illness and are in transition from home or hospital.

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