Senior Living & Health Glossary

We want you to be as informed as possible on the topic of senior health. That is why the Abramson Center has compiled this comprehensive list of elder care terminology, covering everything from the most basic senior health terms to the most complex. And we are always updating this senior health glossary, so please check back!

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Elder Care & Senior Living Terminology

A | B | C | D | E | G | H | I | J | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T

Abramson Senior Care:

A term for the spectrum of senior healthcare services provided by the Abramson. Learn more about various senior services here.

Acute Care:

A form of medical treatment that is short-term but extremely active, such as for an urgent medical emergency. Learn more about acute care here.

ADLS (Activities of Daily Living):

Activities that people do everyday without requiring assistance, such as dressing, bathing, and eating. The ability to complete these activities is frequently used to determine what level of care a person requires. Learn more about ADLS here.

Adult Living Facilities:

See Assisted Living Facilities.

Advance Healthcare Directive:

A legal document outlining what actions should be taken regarding one's health if they are no longer able to make these decisions themselves.

Alzheimer's Disease:

A common form of dementia that causes memory and behavioral issues and worsens with age. Learn more about Alzheimer's disease here.

Assisted Living:

A form of elder care that provides independent adults with some assistance for everyday activities. Learn more about assisted living here.

Assisted Living Facility:

A facility, such as a retirement community, that provides assisted living medical services to independent adults who require some help with daily tasks. Learn more about assisted living facilities here.

Care Advisors:

Experienced senior care consultants available by phone 24/7 to provide free advice, referral information, and guidance on senior care-related issues. Learn more about care advisors here.


A person who provides regular care for an elderly person. Caregivers are frequently loved ones of the elderly or a paid service provider. Learn more about caregivers here.

Caregiver Burnout:

Mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion brought on by caring for an ailing loved one. Learn more about caregiver burnout here.

Caregiver Stress:

See Caregiver Burnout.

Caregiver Support:

Help provided to a caregiver of someone ailing. This support can come in many different forms and can help prevent caregiver burnout. Learn more about caregiver support here.

Caregiver Support Group:

A group of caregivers and medical professionals who meet regularly to share caregiving advice, information, and resources. Learn more about caregiver support groups here.

Certified Nursing Assistant:

Nursing assistants who provide care to patients under the supervision of a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse.


A fat-like waxy substance that is found in all cells in the body. Cholesterol serves a number of different functions, although too much cholesterol can combine with other substances to form plaque that can buildup in arteries and cause a health risk.

Chronic Illness:

A disease or illness that persists for 3 months or more.


Severe decline of mental ability that interferes with a person's daily life. Dementia is a catch-all term for any loss of cognitive functioning. Learn more about dementia here.


A medical process that purifies the blood, replacing the normal function of the kidneys. Learn more about dialysis here.

Elder Care:

Care for an elderly person in need of assistance with everyday activities. Learn more about elder care here.


A person who is considered old or aging. Although the exact number differs from country to country, many agree that old age begins somewhere between 65 and 70.

Geriatric Care Manager:

A healthcare professional who helps an elderly individual and his or her family members identify the individuals physical and mental needs and finds way to meet those needs. Learn more about geriatric care managers here.

Geriatric Research Studies:

Scientific studies that examine issues related to aging and the elderly. Learn more about the Abramson Center’s geriatric research studies here.


Can either refer to an elderly person, or anything related to the elderly, in particular healthcare for the elderly.

Healthy Aging:

The act of maintaining health and wellbeing as you age. Learn more about healthy aging here.

High Blood Pressure:

Blood pressure, the force of your blood against the walls of blood vessels, that is consistently and dangerously high.

Home Care:

The act of providing healthcare and some other services to seniors in their homes, to avoid frequent trips to the doctor or hospital, and to support common household chores and other needs such as bathing. Learn more about home care here.

Home Health Aide:

A healthcare professional who provides in-home care to those with issues such as chronic illnesses or age-related problems.

Home Health Care:

See Home Care.


A healthcare service that provides comfort, care, and pain relief to the terminally ill. Learn more about hospice here.

Independent Living Apartment:

A senior residence that allows older people to maintain their independence and receive assistance as needed. Learn more about independent living apartments here.

Independent Living Community:

An apartment complex or retirement community featuring several individual independent living homes. Learn more about independent living communities here.

Jewish Values:

Values, beliefs, and guiding principles of the Jewish people.


Constitutes people who classify themselves as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Queer and all Others.

LGBTQ+ Senior Care:

Care that addresses the needs of LGBTQ+ seniors. Learn more here.

Long Term Care:

Medical services that address any and all needs of patients, allowing them to live as independently as possible. Learn more about long term care here.

Meals on Wheels:

A national service that delivers meals to the elderly.


A federal program that provides health coverage to several different groups, including the elderly and low-income individuals.

Medical Adult Day:

Adult care care services where trained professionals provide care and recreation to aging seniors during the day. The specific services of the Abramson Center for Jewish Life are located in Philadelphia, PA. Learn more about medical adult day here.


Federal program that provides health insurance to American citizens 65 years of age or older.

Memory Care:

A form of long-term care that is specifically designed for patients suffering from dementia or other memory issues. Learn more about memory care here.

Memory Care Facility:

A healthcare facility that specializes in memory care. Learn more about memory care facilities here.

Mildred Shor Inn:

The independent living apartments of the Abramson Center for Jewish Life. Learn more about Mildred Shor Inn here.

Music Therapy:

The act of using music to address the emotional, cognitive, and physical needs of an individual. Learn more about music therapy here.

Nurse Practitioner:

A registered nurse capable of treating certain conditions without requiring a doctor's supervision.

Occupational Therapy:

A form of therapy that encourages rehabilitation through the performance of everyday activities.

Palliative Care:

Care for people with a serious illness that focuses on improving quality of life, often during treatment. Palliative care can even be used to treat the side effects and symptoms of ongoing treatment for the illness.

Personal Care:

Assisting with the basic physical needs of the patient, including bathing, feeding, and personal hygiene.

Person-Centered Care:

The philosophy that healthcare should be focused on each individual patient as a complete person in order to understand the best treatment and care possible for individual needs. Learn more about person-centered care here.

Pet Therapy:

Animal assisted therapy that uses dogs and other animals to address a number of different medical issues. Learn more about pet therapy here.

Physical Therapy:

The act of using physical techniques, such as exercise, to treat injuries or diseases.

Polisher Research Institute:

The geriatric research institute of the Abramson Center for Jewish Life, where research is conducted and published on the latest advances in treating people physically and mentally. Learn more about the PRI here.

Primary Care Doctor:

A general healthcare professional who manages the overall care of his or her patients, as opposed to a specialist in one particular field. Learn more about primary care doctors here.

Primary Care Physician:

See primary care doctor.

Quality of Life:

A person's well-being. In healthcare terms, quality of life includes physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being - ensuring the patient is as comfortable as possible.


In healthcare, rehab usually refers to treatment after surgery or a+B58n illness, most often cognitive illnesses such as a stroke or physical issues, such as recuperating following a total knee replacement.

Respite Care:

Short-term care for an elderly person in order to provide some relief to the caregiver(s). Respite care can also help in preventing caregiver burnout. Learn more about respite care here.

Senior Care Advisors (Senior Care Consultants):

See Care Advisors.

Senior Care Management:

The managing of an elderly person's care, including providing information and advice to caregivers, along with personalized care plans. Learn more about senior care management here.

Senior Care:

Specialized care that addresses the needs of an elderly person.

Senior Center:

A community center for seniors that provides for their various needs. Senior centers can usually be found throughout the country.

Senior Concierge Services:

See Senior Care Management.

Senior Day Care Center:

Senior centers that provide daytime medical assistance, on-site healthcare professionals, and enriching activities for older adults. Learn more about senior day care centers here.

Senior Mobility:

The ability of a senior to move with purpose around his or her environment. Learn more about senior mobility.

Senior Personal Care Services:

The act of providing assistance with activities of daily living, including cooking, cleaning, laundry, and other basic chores. Learn more about senior personal care services here.


A person of more advanced age, usually over 65 years old.

Short-Term Care:

See Short-Term Rehabilitation.

Short-Term Rehabilitation:

Ongoing medical treatment that addresses issues following surgery or injury

Skilled Nursing Care:

Healthcare treatment that can only be administered by a licensed nurse.

Skilled Nursing Facility:

A facility that provides skilled nursing care to patients.

Spectrum of Care:

A holistic approach to medicine that monitors all aspects of a patient's health over time.


An interruption of blood supply to the brain cause by a blockage of arteries.

Sub-Acute Care:

Intensive, comprehensive inpatient care for patients with an acute illness.

Transitional Care:

Rehabilitation care to help patients after discharge from the hospital.