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Mom, we need to talk.

Let’s talk about our parents.  Yeah, I know. This conversation requires alcohol. As our parents age, and we begin to deal with scary changes in them, we have to take on some uncomfortable roles. And guess what? They aren’t any happier about it than we are.

“Is this dementia?” “Is mom safe at home alone?” “ Do I have to go with her to the doctor? How does she not remember what he told her?” The frustration and confusion is real for you, and for them. And, as you begin to dive into their world, you find that you had no idea how much you didn’t know. Knowledge is power, and baby, you’re gonna need more than power for the journey ahead – but today we are focusing on some basics! I’ve come up with the following list of definitions to begin your education.

Independent Living

Independent residential communities are for seniors desiring a leisurely, hassle-free lifestyle. Choices include apartments, condos, or patio homes offering some supportive services and features that seniors may enjoy or find useful. In addition to home and yard maintenance, additional services may include the provision of meals in a central dining area and scheduled social programs. May also be used to describe housing with few or no services such as a senior friendly apartment. Senior housing refers to apartments or garden homes that are part of a low-income, subsidized state program.

What is Assisted Living?

Residents in Assisted Living remain independent, but assistance with activities of daily living, meals, housekeeping, laundry, dressing, grooming, medication management and more are available if needed. Assisted living combines a home-like setting with personal support services to provide more intensive care than is available through home care services. Assisted living facilities provide older adults with an alternative to nursing facility care that is both less expensive and less restrictive. Services are either included in the rent or provided at an extra charge.

Memory Care

Communities which offer specialized programs for residents suffering from Alzheimer’s, or other form of memory loss. Residents may live in semi-private apartments or private rooms and have structured activities delivered by staff members trained specifically on caring for those with memory impairment. Most of these communities offer a ‘Secured Unit’, which prevent residents with dementia from dangerous wandering in un-secured locations.

Skilled Nursing Home / Long-Term Care

Facility licensed by the state that provides 24-hour nursing care, room and board, and activities for convalescent residents and those with chronic and/or long-term care illnesses. Regular medical supervision and rehabilitation therapy are mandated to be available, and nursing homes are eligible to participate in the Medicaid program.


Therapeutic care for persons requiring intensive physical, occupational, or speech therapy. A rehabilitation stay is typically after an injury or illness. This is often in a skilled nursing home, or simply referred to as skilled nursing. Most insurances, i.e. traditional Medicare, require a 3- day qualifying hospital stay for the rehabilitation stay to be paid for by insurance.

Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)

Housing planned and operated to provide a continuum of accommodations and services for seniors including, but not limited to, independent living, memory care, assisted living, and skilled nursing care. A CCRC resident contract often involves either an entry fee or buy-in fee in addition to the monthly service charges, which may change according to the medical services required. Entry fees may be partially or fully refundable. The fee is used primarily as a method of privately financing the development of the project and for payment for future healthcare. CCRCs are typically licensed by the state, and are sometimes called a Life Care Community.

IN-HOME SERVICES (Super confusing when you are shopping for this. There are two different types. Typically, Home Care assistance has to be paid for privately, while Home Health is often provided through insurance after discharge from a hospital stay.)

Home Care

Caregivers can provide reminders to clients to take medication

Aid with activities of daily living (ADLs)

Light housework

Help preparing meals

Transportation to appointments

Home Health

Home healthcare is a higher level of care that is deemed medically necessary by a physician.

Doctor prescribed (a physician has deemed it medically necessary for you or your loved one to receive care in the home)

Skilled care (care is provided by nurses or health aides who've had special training)

Home health care nurses can administer medication

Aid with activities of daily living (ADL)

Specialized caregiving in such areas as rehabilitation



Nationwide medical insurance program administered by the Social Security Administration for individuals 65 and over and certain disabled people, regardless of income. Provides for hospital and nursing facility care (Part A) and physician services, therapies, and home health care (Part B). Part D is your prescription drug plan.


A jointly funded medical financial Federal-State health insurance assistance program, offering benefits to individuals with limited financial resources, the disabled, and the elderly. There are income eligibility criteria which must be met to qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid accounts for about 52 percent of the nation's care costs, and is the source of payment for almost 70 percent of residents in nursing homes. The person must have exhausted nearly all assets and be in a nursing facility that participates in this program. Medicaid can reimburse Nursing Facilities for the long-term care of qualifying seniors, and in Ohio, Medicaid pays for Assisted Living care through Medicaid waivers.

Other terms and phrases:

Adult Day Care

Daily structured programs in a community setting with activities and health-related and rehabilitation services to elderly who are physically or emotionally disabled and need a protective environment. This care is provided for during the day, the individual returning home for the evening.

Respite Care

Temporary relief from duties for caregivers, ranging from several hours to days. May be provided in-home or in a residential care setting such as an assisted living facility or skilled nursing home.

Hospice Care

Care and comfort measures provided to those with a terminal illness and their families- it can include medical, counseling, and social services. Most hospice care is furnished in-home, while specialized hospices or hospitals also provide this service. Hospice is not a dirty word. If your loved one qualifies, take advantage of it!

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