Senior Housing Glossary
Accessory Apartment: A completely separate living unit inside a single-family home. Imagine a finished lower level with a bedroom, bath and kitchenette. These have also been called mother-in-law apartments. This is a popular housing option for seniors who want to stay in their homes. This housing option provides an opportunity for convenient caregiving, but still allows for some privacy for both the caregiver and the senior. In addition, the rent from the mother-in-law apartment can be an additional source of income to landlord and low rent for the tenant.
Accreditation: Accreditation signifies a senior housing community or service provider has met certain requirements by the governing body offering the accreditation. As a consumer, it’s important for you to understand what is required to receive the accreditation, and how often the senior housing community or service provider is audited to be sure they continue to meet the requirements of the governing body. Examples of some accreditations available for senior housing communities are: Continuing Care Accreditation Commission (CCAC), Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Faciities (CARF) and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).
Activities of Daily Living: Often referred to as ADLs. A term used in the medical and social work communities to denote the level of independence of an individual. If a senior needs help with ADLs, this might include; bathing, dressing, feeding, transferring into or out of a chair or bed, and toileting.
American with Disabilities Act (ADA): A law passed by Congress in 1990 which established prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability. The law requires equal access to public building and places of employment for people with disabilities.
Administration on Aging: Office of Human Development Services: The principal federal agency responsible for administering most provisions of Older Americans Act. Works with state and local agencies, concentrates on interests of elderly.
Adult Day Care Center: A place that provides activities and meals for seniors, plus interaction with peers and resources.
Adult Foster Homes: Licensed family-oriented homes that take in older people who pay for room and board. Usually fewer than four seniors live in one home.
Attorney-in-Fact: An individual empowered to act on behalf of another according to terms of a power of attorney or durable power of attorney.
Assisted Living Facility: A residential facility not licensed as a nursing home that provides personal care and support services to elderly who need help with daily activities. These communities go by a variety of names and are often affiliated with independent living communities or nursing care facilities.
Board and Care Home: A living arrangement, usually a house in a residential neighborhood, or private or shared sleeping rooms and bathrooms, with meals and housekeeping included. Some homes provide supervision, personal care services, transportation, and outings and others offer nothing more than a bed. Board and care homes cater to people with varying disabilities, including Alzheimer’s and related dementia, the physically disabled, and the elderly who have nowhere else to go.
Certified Senior Advisor: Offered by the Society of Senior Advisors, this is a professional who has a specialty working with seniors in the respective field.
Cognitive Impairment: The inability to think systemically and make the decisions most functioning adults make on a day to day basis. Someone suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s or a brain injury likely also suffer from cognitive impairment.
Community Spouse: A term used by Medicare to refer to the spouse not in the nursing home, but living in the community.
Condominium: A legal real estate term to refer to the type of ownership. When you own a condominium, you own the air between the walls of your particular unit.
Continuing Care Retirement Community: A housing option which promises to provide one or more elements of care for the duration of a resident’s life. Provisions to subsidize residents who become unable to pay their monthly fee is often provided.
Conservatorship: The result of a court proceeding which declares an individual unable to take care of a decision-making and legal matters. The court will appoint another individual to make the decisions, and that person is the court-appointed conservator, or guardian.
Cooperative Housing: A legal real estate term to refer to the type of ownership. Residents are stockholders in a corporation which owns the building in which they live. Residents have occupancy rights for their individual units, they don’t own the individual units. Prospective buyers often must be approved by a board prior to closing.
Custodial Care: Ongoing care required to maintain an individual’s daily needs. It is not rehabilative nor designed to facilitate improvement in one’s condition.
Department of Housing and Urban Development: This federal agency provides housing assistance for low-income persons and enforces the nation’s fair housing laws. Check their web site www.hud.gov for information in your state.
Durable power of attorney: A document permitting an individual to designate a third person to act on his/her behalf. This is a useful device for management of one’s personal and financial affairs in the event of mental or physical capacity. The person setting it up can include instructions, guidelines, or limitations as he or she wishes.
ECHO (Elder Cottage Housing Opportunity): A complete, small house temporarily on the same lot as a single-family home. This encourages informal support enabling an older person or couple to remain close to others, yet retain most of their independence.
Estate Tax: Levied on the things you own or valuables on any amount exceeding $1,000,000. The amount is subject to congressional action so stay tuned to the news. There may be upcoming changes.
Geriatric Care Management: Programs to facilitate and coordinate services to the elderly, such as referring them to legal and housing services.
Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA): A branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services concerned with the financing and delivery of healthcare to aged, disabled and poor.
Healthcare Proxy: A document permitted in some states allowing one person to designate another to make health care decisions in the event he or she becomes incapacitated, also called a durable power of attorney for healthcare.
Independent Living: A multi-unit senior housing development that may be an apartment, or town home development available as a rental, condominium or cooperative. Most independent living communities offer social and recreational opportunities, and some even offer services such as meals, housekeeping and some home health care services.
Living Will: A document that allows you to spell out your medical treatment wishes (usually about life support) if you are unable to speak for yourself. Witnessing requirements vary from state to state and should be followed to the letter. It is part of an advance health directive and differs from a health care power of attorney.
Long-Term Care: Any type of support and care a person may need over an extended period of time. It includes assistance with bathing, and dressing, meal preparation, shopping housecleaning, transportation or a stay in a facility up to a skilled nursing facility.
Long-Term Care Insurance: A specific type of insurance written to help cover costs of long-term care within a nursing facility or other type of facility, and a variety of home healthcare situations.
Medicaid: A welfare program jointly administered by the federal and state governments to provide healthcare to the aged, blind, and disabled, and to poor families with dependent children. Medicaid will provide benefits for eligible individuals who require long-term custodial care. Benefits vary among states.
Medicare: The principal healthcare program of the federal government, which is supposed to provide healthcare insurance for those over 65. Part A is hospital insurance; Part B, supplementary insurance, is optional, meaning that you pay. The latter provides additional coverage to pay for physicians’ services. We all know the system is due for an overhaul, although it provideds extensive benefits for hospital outpatient and physician care, Medicare in its current state pays for very few benefits for the elderly requiring long-term custodial care.
Medigap Insurance: Designed to cover the deductible, co-payments and other gaps that exist under Medicare. These Medigap policies don’t pay benefits for long-term care. These policies are also called Medicare Supplemental Policies.
Nursing Home: A facility licensed by the state that provides 24-hour nursing care, room and board, and activities for residents. Residents of a nursing home are often those with chronic and/or long-term illnesses.
REALTOR: A real estate licensee who is a member of the National Association of REALTORs and is bound by the Code of Ethics.
REALTOR Senior Advisor: A certification bestowed upon REALTORs by the Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORs. The recipient of this designation has studied local issues important to Twin Cities Metro area seniors, as well as a senior housing tour with the goal of effectively serving seniors.
Retirement Community: A broad catch-all term referring to a type of housing usually designed for and marketed to older people. Units can be purchased or rented, and there are often recreational and social activities on the premises. Supportive services are offered in some communities.
Reverse Mortgage: A form of loan arrangement under which an elderly homeowner may access the equity in his home. With the home pledged as security, there may be a line of credit against the home that the owner taps by writing a check. A second option is for the senior to receive a regular amount from the lender, with each check increasing the amount of the debt against the house.
Revocable Living Trust: A legal instrument established during the life of the grantor which permits him to change any or all of the terms at any time. A living trust is also known as an intervivos trust. Many older people set up revocable living trust sot that there is someone to mange their financial affairs if they became unable to do so.
Sandwich Generation:A cohort not defined by age, but by caretaking for an older parent or loved one, and also taking care of younger children. They are “sandwiched” between two other generations.
Senior Apartment: Age-restricted housing for older adults who are able to care for themselves. The age restriction may be 55+, 62+ or 65+. Additional services such as meals or transportation may or may not be provided.
Skilled Nursing Facility: Can stand alone or be part of a larger community. Registered nurses provide 24 hour care, and Medicare pays some benefits for the elderly in a Skilled Nursing Facility. See Nursing Home.
Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES): A designation offered by the National Association of Realtors. Designees must undertake training and sit an examination demonstrating they have the skills are are astute to the financial and emotional challenges senior clients face when they sell a long-held family home.
Subsidized Housing: Housing that receives financial assistance through a federal, state, local, non-profit or for-profit program. Assistance can be through rent subsidy, interest subsidy, or contributions toward capital cost. Subsidized or assisted housing usually has a public benefit, such as for low- or moderate-income or special-interest individuals.