Glossary of Terms

A – C  |  D – L  |  M – P  |  Q – Z


Active 55—A residential community that often includes a clubhouse and amenities—but rarely continuing care. Residents must be 55 or above and in generally good health.

Activities of daily living—Bathing, grooming, dressing, tidying, cooking, and other self-care activities.

Alzheimer’s disease—A progressive disease that affects the brain, impacting memory and other crucial mental functions.

Assisted living—For individuals who can no longer live independently, this lifestyle provides support with medication management, meals, and housekeeping.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)—A federal organization under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that administers the Medicare program to age-qualified citizens and works with states to administer the social health care program Medicaid to income-qualified citizens.

Certified home health care—A service in which a health care professional, often a private duty nurse, provides care and support in your home. This service can help you avoid or defer a move to assisted living.

Continuing care—Any level of health care beyond independent living. Continuing care often includes assisted living, memory care, nursing care, respite care, and post-acute rehabilitation.

Continuing care retirement community (CCRC)—A community designed for seniors 62-plus that offers both independent living and continuing care.

Continuum of care—A comprehensive and integrated system of health care that includes a broad range of care levels. Each continuing care retirement community features its own specific levels of care, which can include assisted living, assisted care, rehabilitation, and long-term nursing care.


Entrance deposit—A one-time deposit used to secure a home at a retirement community. At many communities, a percentage of this entrance deposit is refundable.

Entrance fee—A one-time fee used to secure a home at a retirement community. At many communities, a percentage of this entrance fee is refundable.

Five-star rating—Highest available score in the Five-Star Quality Rating System created by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The score is based on health inspection results, staffing ratios, and 11 different physical and clinical quality measures.

Independent living—A form of senior living in which individuals enjoy an active lifestyle, often with additional amenities and services. Independent living residents are generally healthy enough to live without extra support services. They make their own schedules and come and go as they please. 

Long-term care—A level of care that provides individuals with complete assistance with everyday tasks, including eating, dressing, and medication management. Long-term care is ideal for individuals who require 24-hour care and attention, which is provided by physicians and qualified caregivers.


Medicaid—A social health care program for families and individuals with low income and limited resources.

Medical center—A private, on-site health clinic available exclusively to residents of a retirement community. A quality medical center is staffed by full-time doctors and nurses specializing in senior care. 

Medicare—A national social insurance program that provides health insurance to American citizens aged 65 and older, as well as to young people with disabilities.

Memory care—An advanced level of care for individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other memory-related conditions.

Monthly Service Package—A monthly fee that includes a variety of services, amenities, and utilities such as heating, cooling, cable TV, and property taxes.

Occupational therapy—A type of outpatient therapy for those recovering from a physical or mental illness that focuses on regaining or maintaining the performance of daily tasks and activities. 

Personal moving consultant—A professional who can help coordinate all aspects of the moving process, including downsizing, packing, space planning, and connections to reliable real estate agents. 

Physical therapy—A type of inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation focused on treating illnesses or injuries with physical methods such as massage or exercise. Physical therapy services can include assistive device training, manual therapy, home exercise programs, neuro rehabilitation, and more.

Post-acute rehabilitation—Long-term or short-term care provided for individuals recovering from an illness, injury, or hospitalization. Services often include some combination of physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech therapy.


Rehabilitation—A specialized type of health care that aims to improve, maintain, or restore physical and mental strength. Rehabilitation can be inpatient or outpatient and includes physical, speech, and occupational therapy services.

Respite care—Temporary care and housing for an individual in need of daily support. Full-time caregivers often rely on respite care to look after a loved one while they take a vacation or attend to personal business.  

Second person fee—The additional cost for a second individual’s service package. The Monthly Service Package is based on single occupancy per apartment home, so the second person fee covers access to amenities and services for an additional occupant.

Skilled nursing care—Round-the-clock care for individuals who suffer from chronic health conditions too complex to be treated at home or in assisted living.

Speech therapy—A type of outpatient rehabilitation focused on treating speech and swallowing disorders. Speech therapy services can include cognitive rehabilitation, swallowing therapy, and voice retraining.