Common Terminology and Definitions

  • Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) - These are the personal functional activities fundamental for self care and required for an individual for continued well-being. They are generally recognized in elder care as including: Ambulation, Bathing, Continence (Incontinence), Dressing, Eating/Feeding, Toileting, and Transferring. ADL’s can be divided into three categories:

    • Independent - means the individual can perform the ADL without help
    • Assistance - means the individual can perform some part of an activity, but cannot do it entirely alone, and
    • Dependent - means the individual cannot perform any part of an activity; it must be done entirely by someone else.
  • Ambulatory - Means a person who is capable of achieving mobility sufficient to exit his residence without assistance of another person.

  • Alzheimer's Disease - Is the most common form of dementia, a general term for the loss of memory and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. It affects more than 5 million Americans. Although symptoms can vary widely, the first problem many people notice is forgetfulness severe enough to affect their work, lifelong hobbies or social life. As the disease progresses, other symptoms include confusion, trouble with organizing and expressing thoughts, misplacing things, getting lost in familiar places, and changes in personality and behavior. Unfortunately, the disease has no current cure. But treatments for symptoms, combined with the right services and support, can make life better for the millions of Americans living with Alzheimer’s.

  • Case Manager - At the most general level, a case manager can be defined as an “evaluator” and “coordinator” whose responsibility it is to evaluate circumstances and link clients with various services based on assessed need.

  • Certified Nurse Aide - A nursing assistant who has completed a federally approved training program and proved competency through testing and is thereby entitled to be employed in a licensed health care facility or agency.

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) - Is among the top 5 leading causes of death in the United States. COPD is a term often used to include chronic bronchitis, emphysema and a few other disorders. The disease interferes with normal breathing and is characterized by wheezing, a chronic cough accompanied by mucus or phlegm, Most often due to tobacco smoking, COPD can be caused by other airborne irritants such as coal dust, asbestos or solvents.

  • Companion Services - Include non-medical care, supervision and socialization provided to a functionally impaired adult. Services include, but are not limited to: assisting an individual with meal preparation, laundry and shopping, and light housekeeping.

  • Critical Care Unit / Acute Care Unit - Are special physical and functional units for the segregation, concentration and close or continuous nursing monitoring and care of patients who have a critical, serious, or acute condition.

  • Diabetes – Although there are other types of diabetes, the most common forms encountered are Type 1 (requires insulin) and Type 2 (generally not insulin dependent). Individuals with these types of diabetes are not able to process glucose (sugar), which over time, causes damage to internal organs, particularly the kidneys, eyes, heart, nerves and blood vessels.

  • Discharge Planner - A position usually held by a nurse or social worker who coordinates patient discharges from a facility by collaborating with the patient, family, health care team and community resources. This person is involved with the early identification and assessment of the patient's needs and implements timely discharge plans that result in smooth continuity of care and efficient use of hospital and community resources.

  • Dementia - Is a loss of mental processing ability severe enough to interfere with normal activities of daily living such as communication, abstract thinking, judgment and physical abilities, not present since birth, and not associated with a loss or alteration of consciousness.

  • Documentation – Includes written supportive information, records, or references to verify information required by law, rule or agreement.

  • Durable Medical Equipment (DME) – Can be defined as equipment that can withstand repeated use. DME is generally prescribed by a physician and is primarily and customarily used to serve a medical purpose.

  • Home Health Agency – An organization that provides medical, therapeutic or other health services in patients' homes

  • Homemaker Services – Assistance with general errands, housekeeping and home management activities, and meal preparation provided with the purpose of supporting a client’s environment and facilitating continued independent living at home.

  • Instrumental Activities of Living (iADL’s) - Includes activities not necessary for fundamental functioning, but still necessary for every day living. These include shopping, housekeeping, personal finances, food preparation, and mobility/transportation.

  • Myocardial Infarction (MI) / Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI) – Commonly known as a “heart attack” occurs when the blood supply to a part of the heart is interrupted. Classic symptoms include chest pain (typically in the left arm), shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, sweating, and anxiety.

  • Office of Aging (formerly Area Agency on Aging) - Although each office may vary from one another other, in general they each provide a variety of comprehensive and coordinated services which may include health programs, education, employment, legal services, and social services for the aging population in their covered area.

  • Parkinson’s Disease - A progressive degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that often impairs an individual's motor skills and speech. Often associated with the elderly, people with Parkinson's disease frequently experience trembling, muscle rigidity, difficulty walking, problems with balance and slowed movements. Although there are many treatments for the symptoms of Parkinson’s, currently there is no cure.

  • Personal Attendant / Personal Care Aide - An individual that provides personal care (ADL assistance) or supervision, homemaking and respite services to another individual.

  • Personal Care Services - Assistance with ADL’s. May also include but is not limited to nutrition assistance, home management, housekeeping, ambulation and transfer, and medically-related activities, including the taking of vital signs only in conjunction with the above tasks.

  • Plan of Care / Plan of Treatment – Are interchangeable terms meaning a written document that provides information including, but not limited to a client's diagnosis, mental status, functional limitations, medications, diet, special activities, type and anticipated frequency of services, treatment goals and anticipated outcomes. The plan may be revised periodically based upon a client’s condition.

  • Pro re nata (PRN) - Latin for “as needed’. Often used when referring to the taking of medication.

  • Quality of Life - Means how a patient experiences the state of existing and functioning in their environment, and is related to the processes involved in normal human functioning, including right and freedoms.

  • Respite Care - Respite care can be defined as temporary relief provided to the caregiver from the regular responsibility of caring for a frail or sick family member.

  • Responsible Person / Party - Is an individual, relative, or close friend designated in writing by a client, or a court-appointed guardian or person with durable power of attorney, who assists the client and assumes responsibility for the resident’s well-being and for any care not provided by a facility or agency.

  • Skilled Nursing Services - Are services that must be provided by a registered nurse, or a licensed vocational nurse under the supervision of a registered nurse. Some examples of skilled nursing services include intravenous and intramuscular injections, insertion of catheters, wound care, and operation of certain DME.

  • Social Worker - Is a professional who is distinguished from other human service professionals by a focus on both the individual and his or her environment. Generally, social workers have at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited education program and in most states they must be licensed, certified, or registered. Social workers often hold roles of Discharge Planners, Social Services Directors, Case Managers and Care Managers.

  • Stroke - A stroke is defined as a sudden loss of brain function caused by a blockage or rupture of a blood vessel to the brain. The loss of blood flow produces symptoms such as sudden dizziness, loss of balance, weakness or numbness on one side of the body, vision loss, and difficulty speaking or understanding speech. Also see “TIA”.

  • Supplemental Staffing - Temporary placement of a care provider at a facility, another agency or organization.

  • Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) - Often described as a “mini-stroke” can disappear within a few minutes or last up to 24 hours. TIA’s, like strokes, are caused by a disruption of the blood flow to the brain. Symptoms closely resemble that of a stroke, such as loss of vision, difficulty speaking and dizziness. TIA’s can be an early warning sign of a stroke and require immediate medical attention.

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