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Independent Living Terminology Guide

Entering the world of senior living can be confusing without some help. Use our guide to keep track of common independent living terms and acronyms.

Ready to leave the hassle of home maintenance behind and move into an independent living community? You’ve worked hard over the years and now you deserve to find a place that helps you maintain your ideal lifestyle and enjoy your golden years.

Of course, there are plenty of senior living options available to you and plenty of terms you’ll hear during, and after, your search. That’s why we put together our independent living terminology guide to help you stay on top of everything you may hear while finding your ideal community.

Common Independent Living Terms

Activity Calendar

A calendar of different events and activities that independent living residents can choose to join in order to stay engaged, meet other residents, and keep active in their community.

Activities of Daily Living (ADL)

Day-to-day activities that people need to do to sustain themselves, such as eating, bathing, and taking medication. The degree of assistance that seniors need with ADLs can dictate the appropriate type of care they need in senior living. For example, seniors who need regular help with ADLs are more suited for assisted living than independent living.

Aging in Place

The practice of staying and growing older in the same home. Aging in place can happen in a private home or in an independent living community where seniors can grow older and receive the care or other assistance they need over time.

Amenities

The various features of an independent living community that helps provide social, cultural, educational, and spiritual opportunities. Potential amenities include a wellness center, swimming pool, and other desirable highlights.

Assisted Living (AL)

Another form of senior living meant for seniors who need ongoing assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) and other regular care.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)

A senior living community that offers all levels of care for its residents. These communities provide everything from independent living through memory care and hospice so that the seniors who live there have long-term care options where they won’t need to leave their community.

Continuum of Care

A system where seniors have all levels of care available within a single community so that all their current and potential future needs are provided within the same place.

Downsizing

The process of sorting through one’s possessions and selling, giving away, or throwing away items in order to simplify day-to-day life and move into a smaller residence with fewer items and maintenance.

Entrance Fee Retirement Community

A senior living community that requires seniors to make an initial downpayment in order to become a resident and access the special benefits and accommodations at that community. Entrance fee retirement communities typically offer higher end living and amenities and offer most, if not all, levels of care in the same community.

Hands-on Assistance

Physical assistance from a medical care professional that allows elderly adults to perform activities of daily living. This level of assistance isn’t needed at the independent living level but may become necessary as someone’s level of care changes.

History and Physical (H&P)

A formal assessment of a resident’s senior care needs. These provide the full “story” of when the resident first sought care and serve as the most complete assessment of a senior’s ongoing health history.

Independent Living

A type of senior living community where seniors with no or minimal help with daily activities can live independently, stay social, and enjoy a variety of amenities.

Levels of Care

The amount of help a senior needs with activities of daily living and other medical support. 

Long-term Care

A variety of services provided to a senior over a long period of time to help them live as independently and safely as possible.

Long-term Care Insurance

An insurance policy that helps pay for long-term care. This insurance doesn’t cover independent living room and board but can cover some of the care provided in assisted living, nursing homes, and other caregiving facilities. 

Living Will

A written statement, also known as a health care directive, that dictates which medical treatments a person would and would not want performed if they are unable to provide express informed consent.

Medicaid

A federal and state program that provides health care coverage to seniors and other people who qualify.

Medicare

A national government health insurance program specifically for people aged 65 and older and some individuals under the age of 65 with specific disabilities and health conditions.

Medication Management

A system to streamline the medication administration process for seniors. Professionals oversee every step of medication management, including identifying the right drugs, dosage, timing, and administration. 

Memory Care

A type of senior living that provides specialized care for people with dementia and other memory issues.

Nursing Home

A long-term senior living community for seniors who need added support following a hospital stay or a greater level of care than what’s provided at assisted living.

Outside Services

A variety of services that can be brought into an independent living setting or other communities to further support residents and their needs, such as home health, hospice, or private duty care.

Private Pay

The main form of funds used to pay for senior living. Private pay is made up of personal resources that seniors used to pay for senior living out of pocket. These funds can include personal savings, monthly income, sellable assets, retirement accounts, and other private sources.

Quality of Life

A person’s overall enjoyment of life in their current state. Senior living focuses on providing housing, services, and care to help seniors live their ideal lifestyle and improve their quality of life.

Rehabilitation

The process of restoring and enhancing different functional abilities that were lost or diminished after an injury or over time. Common forms of rehabilitation include physical, mental, and cognitive care.

Senior Living Community

A collective term for various retirement communities where seniors move out of their own homes and into a space that provides activities, socialization opportunities, and other benefits. Senior living communities start with independent living and can include assisted living, nursing homes, and other forms of retirement and assistance communities.

Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF)

A facility that provides skilled nursing care. Seniors are commonly referred to skilled nursing facilities to receive short-term care after an injury, illness, or some other health issue before returning home.

Socialization

The process of interacting with other people as social activity has been proven to help improve mood, cognition, and more. 

Wellness Program

An ongoing program within an independent living community where seniors have the tools and support to be active, maintain wellness goals, and stay in good shape.

Need help finding the right senior living option for your ideal lifestyle and care needs? Let National Church Residences help you find a place that’s right for you or your loved ones.

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National Church Residences does not discriminate against individuals based on race, color, disability, familial status, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, payment source, or any other class protected by applicable law, whether in employment or its activities, programs, or services. National Church Residences also does not discriminate based on age, except as required by government entitlements or permitted by applicable law for seniors.