Glossary of senior living terms  for residents of Waltonwood in West Bloomfield, Michigan

Waltonwood Glossary of Important Terms

Activities of Daily Living:

Activities of Daily Living, also known as “ADLs”, is a term used in healthcare to refer to people's basic daily self-care activities, such as getting out of bed, eating, drinking, bathing, toileting, dressing, and grooming. The appropriate care type for seniors seeking senior living is largely based on their ability or inability to perform ADLs.


An evaluation of the resident’s functional ability and needs to complete activities of daily living (ADLs). 

Assisted Living (AL):

An assisted living residence provides services to support engagement of daily living and is aimed at helping residents remain as self-sufficient as possible with the assurance of assistance when needed. A combination of housing, meals, medication management, personal care and support, social activities and, in some residences, health-related services are usually provided. Assisted Living residences are different than Skilled Nursing Facilities.

Authorized Representative:

A person designated by the resident to be a point of contact for the resident or, in some cases, to act on behalf of a resident, depending on the legal authority granted to the Authorized Representative by the resident.

Care Plan:

A synopsis of the assessment, that provides direction to caregivers, of the resident’s abilities and areas of needs to complete one’s activities of daily living (ADLs).


When the court appoints an individual to manage the financial affairs of another due to physical or mental limitations, or old age. For seniors, this usually takes place when the elderly person is no longer able to manage their own property and money.  The types of duties covered can vary from case to case. 

Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC):

It is a particular kind of option for residential living where one community offers multiple levels of care on a single campus. Part independent living, part assisted living and part skilled nursing home, CCRCs offer a tiered approach to the aging process, accommodating residents’ changing needs. Communities can vary to some degree as to the amenities offered. CCRCs give seniors the ability to live within the same community through their life. 

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care:

Gives broad powers to a person known as an “agent” or “attorney-in-fact” to act on your behalf in financial matters and business transactions.  It remains valid and in effect even if you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions for yourself.

General Power of Attorney (POA):

Gives broad powers to a person known as an “agent” or “attorney-in-fact” to act on your behalf in financial matters and business transactions. If a power of attorney does not specifically say it is durable, it ends if you become incapacitated. 


A guardianship is a crucial legal tool that allows one person or entity to make decisions for another. Courts are tasked with establishing guardianships, and they typically appoint guardians in instances of incapacity or disability.

Healthcare Directive:

A written document that that informs others of your wishes about your health care and what you would want and not want if you were nearing the end of your life. It allows you to name a person (agent) to decide for you if you are unable to decide. It also allows you to name an agent if you want someone else to decide for you. It is also known as a “Living Will.”

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act):

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 is United States legislation that provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information.

Home Health Care:

Home health care is a wide range of health care services that can be given in your home for an illness or injury. Home health care can include broad care given by skilled medical professionals, including skilled nursing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. Home health care can also include skilled, non-medical care, such as medical social services or assistance with daily living from a highly qualified home health aide.

Hospice Care:

Hospice care is defined as treatments intended to give supportive care to individuals in the final stages of a terminal illness or those who have elected to no longer receive further preventative care. Rather than focusing on curing the patient from his/her condition, the goal of hospice care is the patient’s comfort, quality of life, and minimizing and managing any pain s/he may be experiencing.

Independent Living (IL):

Independent living is often a ‘care level’ within a senior living community (housing designed for individuals 55+), where residents are capable of making decisions to direct their own lives and do not require ongoing assistance with activities of daily living (getting out of bed, eating, drinking, bathing, toileting, dressing, and grooming) and can live independently with some a la carte services available to the resident on an interim basis.

Long Term Care Insurance:

Long term care insurance is insurance coverage designed to cover individuals with chronic illnesses, disabilities, or other conditions that may require daily assistance over an extended period of time. Examples of the types of care/services that may be covered under long term care insurance  include but are not limited to home health services, skilled nursing care, and personal or adult day care for individuals above the age of 65 or with a chronic or disabling condition that needs constant supervision.


Medicare is the federal health insurance program that provides coverage to individuals 65 years of age and older, certain younger, disabled individuals, and those under the age of 65 with end-stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplant). There are three different parts of Medicare:

  • Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance)
  • Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance)
  • Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Insurance)

Memory Care (MC):

Memory care is often a ‘care level’ within a senior living community (housing designed for individuals 55+), and is a distinct form of long-term care designed to meet the specific needs of a person with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other types of memory related impairments. Memory Care is different than Skilled Nursing.

Respite Care:

Respite is temporary care provided by a community (or senior living facility). Respite care provides short term relief for primary caregivers for a short duration of time.

Skilled Nursing:

Skilled nursing is a term that refers to a patient's need for care or treatment that can only be administered by licensed nurses and other medical professionals. Examples of skilled nursing care include but are not limited to complex wound dressings, rehabilitation, and but are not limited to post-surgical care, wound care and catheter care.

Skilled Nursing Facilities:

Skilled nursing facilities, oftentimes referred to as nursing homes, are residential facilities where patients can receive skilled nursing services 24 hours a day. Medicare will pay for skilled nursing services on an interim basis if a physician has deemed that a patient requires skilled nursing care and the prescribed services will help patients meet their health goals. Skilled Nursing facilities are different than Assisted Living and Memory Care communities.

Veterans Affairs (VA) Benefits:

Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits describe benefits that are available to uniformed service members, Veterans, and some members of their immediate families. VA benefits were instituted to address many of the common issues that service members/Veterans face and to pay these individuals back for their great service to our country. These benefits provide eligible individuals additional opportunities and access to life insurance, health care, and many other related programs.

Wills & Trusts:

Although distinctly different, wills and trusts are common tactics used in estate planning. A will is a document that directs who will receive an individual’s property/assets when s/he passes away. Although a will doesn’t go into effect until an individual pass away, oftentimes, the document will also appoint an individual to help ensure that the deceased’s wishes are carried out accordingly.

Contrarily a trust is a legal arrangement that takes effect as soon as it is created and can be used to begin distributing property before death, at death or afterwards. As a part of a trust one person (or an institution, such as a bank or law firm), called a "trustee," holds legal title to the property for another person, called a "beneficiary." A trust usually has two types of beneficiaries -- one set that receives income from the trust during their lives and another set that receives whatever is left over after the first set of beneficiaries dies.