Glossary


You’ll hear and read many words, phrases and acronyms along the path of your exploration into senior living. This is not an exhaustive list, but it is a good foundation to get started.

Active 55+ – A residential community that often includes a clubhouse and amenities—but rarely continuing care. Residents must be 55 or above and in generally good health.

Accreditation – The process in which certification of competency, authority, or credibility is presented. 

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) – Activities normally associated with the day-to-day personal care, such as personal hygiene, bathing, dressing, cooking, eating and taking one’s medication.

Adult Day Care and Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) – Both are daytime programs for functionally impaired adults that provide social and related support services in a protective setting. The difference being the ADHC program can also provide a variety of health care and medical interventions.

Assisted Living – See Senior Living Options.

Care Coordinator/Life Plan Coordinator – See What a Life Plan Coordinator Does.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) A federal organization under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that administers the Medicare program to age-qualified citizens and works with states to administer the social health care program Medicaid to income-qualified citizens.

Community Fee – A fee paid to a senior living provider as a part of the move-in fee or 1st months fee. Typically it covers the cost of the move-in to the community and a variety of community services which could be anything from residence and community renovations to general maintenance and community upkeep. 

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) – See What is a CCRC?

Continuum of Care – A comprehensive and integrated system of health care that includes a broad range of care levels. Each continuing care retirement community features its own specific levels of care, which can include assisted living, assisted care, rehabilitation, and long-term nursing care.

Entrance Fee – A one-time fee used to finalize and secure a residence at a retirement community. In many communities, a percentage, or in some cases all of this entrance fee is refundable. Most communities offer options depending on individual preferences.

Fee-For-Service Contract – A CCRC contract that requires residents to pay separately for their residential and medical costs.

Five-star Rating – Highest available score in the Five-Star Quality Rating System created by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.The score is based on health inspection results, staffing ratios, and 11 different physical and clinical quality measures.

Hospice – A care program that alleviates the symptoms but does not cure the underlying cause provided to dying persons and their families, in the form of physical, psychological, social and spiritual care.

Independent Living – See Senior Living Options.

Life Care Contract – A CCRC contract in which all long-term care costs are covered with no additional fees. Read more in Kendal’s Lifecare Guide.

Life Plan Community – A residential, senior living community for independent, older adults, age 62 and over, that provides a variety of living options with services and amenities and a complete continuum of health care services designed to meet the changing lifestyle needs of residents as they age. Also, may be referred to as a CCRC. See What is a CCRC.

Long-term Care – A level of care that provides individuals with complete assistance with everyday tasks, including eating, dressing, and medication management. Long-term care is ideal for individuals who require 24-hour care and attention, that is provided by physicians and qualified caregivers.

Long term Care Insurance – is an insurance product that helps pay for the costs associated with long term health care that is not generally     covered by regular health care insurances.

Medicaid – A social health care program for families and individuals with low income and limited resources.

Medicaid Gap, Medigap – If an older person’s assets are greater than the Medicaid eligibility requirement, but are less than the monthly cost of long term care, the person falls into this category.

Medicare – A national social insurance program that provides health insurance to American citizens aged 65 and older, as well as to young people with disabilities.

Medicare Saving Program – A series of programs designed to help financially needy seniors who are not eligible for Medicaid with the cost of co-pays, premiums and care.

Medigap/Medicare Supplemental Insurance – Sometimes referred to as Medigap plans, this insurance extends Medicare benefits.

Memory Care/Memory Support – An advanced level of care for individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other memory-related conditions. See Senior Living Options.

Modified Care Contract – Also known as a Type B Contract, this contract type generally includes a discount on higher levels of care, or a defined number of days included as part of contract.

Monthly Fee or Service Package A monthly fee that includes a variety of services, amenities, and utilities such as heating, cooling, cable TV and property taxes.

Nursing Home – As known as Skilled Nursing Facilities. See Senior Living Options.

Palliative Care – A care program that alleviates the symptoms but does not cure the underlying medical condition. While this can be similar to Hospice Care, it is different in that it can be provided right after a diagnosis is given and the individual’s medical condition does not necessarily have to be terminal. Read more in Palliative Care: What You Need to Know.

Personal Care – See Senior Living Options.

Personal moving consultant Also known as Relocation Consultant or Move Manager. A professional who can help coordinate all aspects of the moving process, including downsizing, packing, space planning, and connections to reliable real estate agents. 

Physical therapy – A type of inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation focused on treating illnesses or injuries with physical methods such as massage or exercise. Physical therapy services can include assistive device training, manual therapy, home exercise programs, neuro rehabilitation, and more.

Priority Deposit – Initial fee paid to a senior living community prior to obtaining residence. Typically this deposit holds a specific place on a “priority list” and gives an individual the opportunity to be contacted prior to other interested parties that have not made a deposit. 

Qualified Medicare Beneficiary – One of several programs designed to help financially needy seniors who are not eligible for Medicaid with the cost of co-pays, premiums and care.

Rehabilitation – A specialized type of health care that aims to improve, maintain, or restore physical and mental strength. Rehabilitation can be inpatient or outpatient and includes physical, speech and occupational therapy services.

Respite care – Temporary care and housing for an individual in need of daily support. Full-time caregivers often rely on respite care to look after a loved one while they take a vacation or attend to personal business.  

Second person fee – The additional cost for a second individual’s service package. The monthly fee is based on single occupancy per home, so the second person fee covers access to amenities and services for an additional occupant.

Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF) – See Senior Living Options.

Wait List – (Also referred to as Priority List) A list of individuals who have paid a small deposit to get on a list for a residence of their choice without making a final commitment. In some cases, individuals can access the community during this time to learn more about the community while they wait to be able to move in.