Glossary of Terms - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather

Glossary of Terms

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Activities of Daily Living (ADLs):  Activities usually performed for oneself in the course of a normal day including bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, walking, taking medications as well as other personal care activities. 

Accelerated Death Benefit: A life insurance policy benefit that lets the insured person use some of the policy's death benefit prior to death for purposes such as long-term care.

Adult Day Care:  Social, recreational, and health--related services to individuals in a protective setting who cannot be left alone during the day because of health, social need, confusion or disability.

Alzheimer's Disease:  A progressive, neurodegenerative disease characterized by death of nerve cells in several areas of the brain, leading to loss of mental functions and physical function.  Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia.

Apraxia: One of the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. It's the inability to carry out motor skills despite the fact that the motor system is intact. 

Area Agency on Aging (AAA): A nationwide network of state and local programs that help seniors plan and care for long-term needs.  Services often include information and referral for in-home care, counseling, legal services, adult day care, skilled nursing, transportation, respite, and meals.

Assisted Living Facilities:  A facility that is a combination of housing and health care in a professionally managed setting designed to respond to the individual needs of persons who require assistance with activities of daily living.  The facility provides care to residnts who cannot live independently but who do not require 24 hour nursing care.  Note:  Terminology may vary from state to state and also be called a Residential Care Facility (RCF), Board and Care Home, a Domiciliary Care Facility, and Adult Care Home, or a Community-Based Care Facility. 


Baby Boomer:  A person born between the years 1945 - 1964

Beneficiary: The recipient of benefits, as funds or property, from an insurance policy/program or will.

Benefit Period:  A method of measuring a beneficiary's use of services covered my medicare.  A benefit period begins the day the beneficiary is hospitalized or enters a skilled nursing facility.  It ends after the beneficiary has been out of the hospital or facility for a period of 60 consecutive days.  If the beneficiary needs additional facility care after the 60-day period then a new benefit period begins.

Bereavement: State of sorrow over death or departure of a loved one.


Care or Case Management:  Case managers work with family members and older adults to assess, arrange and evaluate supportive efforts of seniors and their families to remain independent.

Caregiver:  Reference to a person, either paid or volunteer, who helps an older person with the activities of daily living, health care, financial matters, guidance, companionship and social interaction. 

Care Plan:  The detailed formulation of a program of action that addresses a consumer's needs.

Catastrophic Illness:  An expensive or lengthy illness that greatly exceeds an individual's ability to pay.

Children of Aging Parents (CAPS): Nonprofit, charitable organization whose mission is to assist the nation's caregivers of the elderly or chronically ill with reliable information, referrals and support.  CAPS strives to heighten public awareness that the health of the family caregivers is essential to ensure quality care of the nation's growing elderly population.

Chronic Illness:  A physical or mental disability that continues or recurs frequently over a long period of time.

Co-payment:  The portion of the cost of care an insured person is required to pay.

Contingent Beneficiary: The person who will receive the benefits of a policy or plan if the main beneficiary dies while the insured is living.

Custodial Care:  Help and supervision with daily living activities such as dressing, eating, personal hygiene and other functions.


Deductible:  The amount that an insured person must pay before an insurance plan pays for any portion of the cost of health care.

Dementia:  Clinical term used to describe a group of brain disorders that disrupt and impair cognitive functions --- thinking, memory, judgment --- personality, mood, and social interaction.

Dependent Care Tax Credit:  Federal income tax credits for certain home care services and adult day care services.  Check with your local IRS office or tax professional for details.

Diabetes:  A disease that impairs the ability of the body to use sugar resulting in the loss of sugar through urine, and an increase in the level of sugar levels in the blood.

Durable Medical Power of Attorney:  A legal documents which names a person who will make health care decisions for principal if that individual become incompetent or unable to express his/her wishes.

Durable Power of Attorney:  A power of attorney that is enforceable even if the principal becomes disabled or incapacitated.


Elder Abuse:  Refers to any situation where an elderly individual may suffer emotional or physical abuse from another person.

Elder Care: A growing area of health care concerned with providing medical and other services for the rapidly growing, aging population.

Elder Law Attorney:  Specializes in laws that deal with the rights and issues of the health, finances, and well-being of the elderly and the power of other individuals and the government to control them.

Elimination Days: A period of time between the initial need for care and the beginning of the payments from the insurance company.

Elimination Period: The number of days that you have to pay benefits before coverage begins to pay.

Estate Planning:  A plan for what will happen to an individual or couple's assests and liabilities after death.

Executor: The person named in a will to carry out the distribution of an estate.


Fee-for-Service System:  The traditional health care payment system in which providers, including physicians and hospitals, are paid after they provide services to consumers.


Geriatrician:  A medical doctor with special education and training in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disabilities in older people.

Geratric Social Worker: A licensed professional whose expertise enables him/her to assist the elderly and their families to understand and cope with the social, emotional and psychological aspects of aging. 

Guardian:  An individual appointed by a court of law to manage a person's financial and/or personal affairs because the court has found that the person is not competent to manage his or her own affairs. 



Hospice: Usually a combination of at-home and hospital care of the terminally ill that combines medical and social services.  It is designed to help both the patient and family.  Hospice care emphasizes pain control, symptom management, and emotional support rather than the use of life-sustaining equipment.


Independent Senior Housing: Self-contained apartments designed to promote independence, provide common space and activities.

Informed Consent: Following disclosure of the risks and options, the permission given by a person with mental capacity prior to receiving medical treatment.




Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN): A person who has completed one or two years in nursing school or vocational training.  LPNS are in charge of nursing in absence of an RN. LPN's are licensed in the state where they work and often give medications and perform treatments.

Living Will: A document that describes a person's wishes on whether to use extrodinary life sustaining measures.


Medicare: A federal health insurance program for people over age 65 and those under 65 who are disabled.  Medicare has two parts: Part A is also called hospital insurance. Part B is medical insurance. 



Occupational Therapist:  A person trained to conduct therapy to maintain, restore or teach skills to improve manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination.


Physical Therapist:  A rehabilitation profession or uses various therapies to help people increase mobility and restore strenght and body movement.

Power of Attorney:  A written legal document in which one person appoints another person to manage the first person's financial affairs.  Although the intent is for the Power of Attorney to take affect when the person become incapacitated, in reality, unless otherwise specified, it takes affect when signed.

Power of Attorney for Health Care: A written legal document in which one person appoints another person to make health care decisions on their behalf in the event he/she becomes incapacitated.  This document can contain instructions about specific medical treatment that should happen or be withheld.

Probate:  The process by which the executor (if there is a will) or a court-appointed administrator (if there is no will) manages and distributes the decendent's property to beneficiaries.



Residential Care Facility: An out-of-hour care option for seniors no longer able to live independently and care for themselves. RCF's typically provide help with personal hygiene, grooming, and other activities of daily living.

Respite Temorary care provided by a third party so the the caregiver can have a period of rest from caregiving responsibilities.

Revocable Trust:  A trust where a grantor reserves the right to revoke or change.  To protect the final wishes of the grantor, a trust can become irrevocable when the death of the grantor occurs.


Senior Center: Facilities that offer community-based programs and a variety of services and recreational activities for older adults.

Skilled Nursing Care: Skilled nursing care is administered by registered nurses and can include intravenous injections, tube feeding, and changing sterile dressings.


Term Life Insurance:  Covers a person for a period of one or more years.  It pays a death benefit only if you die during that term.  It generally does not build in cash value.

Transferring:  Moving into and out of bed, chair or wheelchair.

Trust: A legal arrangement where an individual gives fiduciary control of property to a person or institution for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries.


Underwriting:  Th process of examining, accepting, or rejecting insurance appllications, and classifying those people who are accepted, in order to charge the proper premium for each person.



Waiver of Premium:  If a policy contains this provision, premiums don't have to be paid while an insured person is receiving benefits --- if specific conditions are met.

Will:  A written document through which a person disposes of property after death.

Whole Life Insurance: Policies that build a cash value and cover a person for as long as he or she lives if premiums continue to be paid.





This iglossary has been compiled with some assistance from the following:

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