Aging-in-place is a process. One that often includes home care. With the wide range of services available to seniors and their caregivers, the “what’s what” can sometimes get confusing. Whether you’re planning ahead or actively seeking services; start by learning the basics with our ultimate glossary of home care terms. Learn all the common phrases and definitions you’ll run into right here!
Home Care Vs. Home Health Care
Home Care – (1)Any service that can be obtained and used in the comfort of your own residence. For seniors who are aging-in-place, home care can include a wide range of services and support. (2)Formally, refers to non-medical care received in your residence.
Home Health Care – Professional medical assistance at home such as physical therapy or skilled nursing.
Cleaning Service – Businesses that will perform general cleaning or organizing for a fee.
Hospice – Medical support for those who are nearing the end of life.
Meal Service – Ready-made, home-delivered meals or meal-prep assistance from a PCA or home care aide.
Nursing Service – Healthcare provided by a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN).
Occupational Therapy – A form of therapy that encourages “rehabilitation through the performance of activities required in daily life.” An occupational therapist can visit your home to teach exercises and rehab techniques that make ADLs and other activities easier.
Personal Care Services – Professionals who provide in-home custodial care such as help with activities of daily living (ADL) like bathing, eating, and grooming. They will often assist with mobility, meal preparation, and even social and cognitive activities.
Physical Therapy – A physical therapist provides rehabilitation services and treatments. At home, a PT can help you strengthen your muscles and increase mobility.
Caregiver – Anyone who regularly looks after and provides assistance to a person who is sick, elderly, or disabled. In regard to senior home care, there are generally two main categories that caregivers fall into: family and professional.
Companion – A broad term used to describe friendship, support, and assistance from either a service or a loved one.
Family Caregiver – A spouse, relative, friend, or neighbor who provides assistance and support for either a short-term or long-term.
Health Aide – A licensed medical professional that cares for a patient in their home
Home Care Aide – A professional who provides in-home custodial care such as help with activities of daily living (ADL).
Occupational Therapist – A healthcare professional who teaches exercises and rehab techniques that make ADLs and other activities easier.
PCA – Personal care assistant. A professional who provides non-medical care such as assisting with activities of daily living.
Physical Therapist – A healthcare professional who helps a person improve and manage injuries or physical disabilities caused by accident, injury, or illness.
Professional Caregiver – A person whose career is based on providing assistance, care, or support. They can be nurses, physical therapists, personal care assistants, and many more.
Skilled Nurse – A licensed nurse that can provide skilled nursing care.
Adult Day Care – Programs that provide care and companionship for seniors or adults with disabilities. Services will usually provide supervision, social activities, and meals. Learn more about adult day services here.
Adult Day Health Care – Programs that provide care and companionship for seniors or adults with disabilities, plus, medical care.
Respite Care – Temporary institutional or facility care of a sick, elderly, or disabled person. Respite care exists to provide relief for usual caregivers.
Transportation Service – Many community services will take you to doctor visits, the pharmacy, and even the grocery store. The Eldercare Locator can help you find senior transportation near you.
Other Home Care & Home Health Care Terms
ADL – Activities of daily living such as dressing, eating, personal hygiene, and toileting.
Ambulatory – This term relates to the ability to walk or move. When used in reference to care (ambulatory care), it usually means outpatient.
Alzheimer’s – A progressive brain disorder that affects memory, thinking, and the ability to perform tasks
Area Agencies on Aging – “Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) are public or private nonprofit agencies designated by states to address the needs and concerns of all older persons at the regional and local levels.” For more information on AAAs, visit ACL.gov.
Continuum of Care – A continuum of care refers to the delivery of care over a period of time. For seniors, it’s the care they need during each stage of life.
Custodial Care – Non-medical or personal care.
Dementia – A chronic memory disorder that affects memory and thinking. Personality changes and impaired reasoning are common.
IADL – Instrumental activities of daily living. Much like ADLs, but those that require more complex thinking, such as managing one’s own medication.
Memory Care – Refers to medical or personal care specifically for those who have conditions that affect their memory, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Ready to look for home care?
Now that you know some basic terms, start searching for home care near you!