Assisted Living Terminology Glossary Continued

June 9, 2015

Have you started the process of researching living options for an elderly parent or relative? Whether you’re looking at nursing homes, assisted living, or even hospice care, we know the learning curve can be steep, which is why we devoted a recent blog post to defining key terminology you’re likely to hear in your search. Our reader response was so positive that we thought we’d continue the conversation with another dive into some terms you’ll want to be familiar with as you wade through your options:

ADULT DAY CARE: Adult day care facilities are designed for emotionally- or physically-disabled seniors who need a protective and supervised environment during the day. They are not residential communities, with participants typically being dropped off in the morning and picked up at the end of the workday. Their programming is quite comprehensive, and includes physical rehabilitation services; socially stimulating activities, like pet therapy and games; and certain healthcare services, like blood pressure monitoring and dispensing of medication.

Generally, adult day care clients live with a family member or caregiver who perhaps cannot care for them during the workday, or who believes they’d benefit from social interaction and/or more structured daily activity.  While the client’s needs are most important, adult day care does offer the added benefit of giving the caregiver a much-needed break, as well as the ability to keep their paid work hours consistent.

ACTIVITIES OF DAILY LIVING (ADLs): This term refers to the basic tasks of everyday life, including eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, taking medication properly, and personal grooming. ADLs come into play when an elderly person is being evaluated for her ability to live independently versus needing daily assistance. They also have a bearing on certain health insurance policies, including long term care insurance.

PALLIATIVE CARE: Sometimes confused with hospice care, palliative care aims to alleviate the pain, suffering, and stress associated with any serious or chronic illness. Its goal is to improve the quality of life of the patient, whether it be spiritual, emotional, social, or physical. While hospice care includes palliative care in its scope, its purpose is more focused on improving the end-of-life environment for patients and their caregivers.

MEDIGAP INSURANCE, or Medicare Supplemental Insurance:  Medigap Insurance policies are offered by private insurance companies, and are designed to cover certain services not covered by Medicare Parts A and B. They most typically cover copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles; some also provide coverage for any services received when traveling outside the US. Medigap policies generally do not cover long-term care, private-duty nursing, eyeglasses, hearing aids, vision or dental care. For more detailed information, head to

RESPITE CARE: Respite care refers to short-term care typically administered in-home or at an assisted living or nursing home facility. Ranging from several hours to several days, respite care is designed to provide coverage to a caregiver who might be traveling, or might need a break; it can also be a helpful way to ease a family member into a community, or give it a trial run as part of the evaluative process.