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A Guide to Senior Living Terminology

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Mother and daughter looking at photos

If you’re just beginning to research senior living communities for yourself or an older loved one, you’ve probably come across some unfamiliar terminology. It’s easy to be confused by the special language used in senior living and senior care, so don’t worry if you’re a little lost at first. This list of common senior living terms and phrases can help to clear up the confusion as you search for senior living options.

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)

Activities of daily living are everyday tasks such as bathing, personal hygiene and grooming, eating, using the toilet, mobility, getting dressed, and medication management. In an assisted living or skilled nursing facility, caregivers provide older adults with extra assistance and support for these basic needs.

Aging in Place

Aging in place refers to when seniors remain living at home or with their family as they grow older. Seniors who want to stay in their own homes often benefit from the assistance of in-home caregivers.

Assisted Living

Assisted living is a type of senior living community that’s designed for older adults who need extra help and support with some activities of daily living, but are otherwise independent. Residents enjoy having a private living space, usually an apartment-style suite with a bedroom, living room, and kitchenette. Along with personal care support services, assisted living typically includes chef-prepared meals, laundry services, housekeeping, and transportation services, as well as opportunities to participate in the social activities and events within the community.

Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)

A CCRC is a community that offers senior living options and care across multiple levels, including independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing care, and memory care, all on the same campus. Residents of a CCRC, such as Bethany Village, enjoy the convenience of remaining on one campus and maintaining friendships as their care needs change over time.

Independent Living

Independent living communities, also known as retirement communities, are an ideal choice for older adults who can still live independently but want a more maintenance-free style of living. In independent living, residents live in private residences within a community made up of their peers. Convenient services such as home maintenance and repairs, landscaping, and transportation to off-site activities may also be offered to help residents enjoy a more relaxing retirement.

Memory Care

Memory care is a type of long-term care provided to people with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other types of memory problems. Memory care units, which may be located within a senior living community, often have numerous safety features and staff members available 24-hours a day for added safety and security. Memory care also includes special structured activities or programs to enhance the lives of individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.


Following a hospitalization due to illness, injury or a planned surgery such as a joint replacement, many older adults benefit from recovering in a short-term rehabilitation facility instead of returning home right away. Some senior living communities feature rehabilitation centers on their campus, offering short-term nursing care and therapy in a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere. Staying in a short-term rehabilitation center can help to speed up the recovery process and maximize results which prevents rehospitalization.

Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF)

Skilled nursing facilities are ideal for older adults who need long-term nursing care. Residents enjoy all the perks of community living, with the added benefit of having registered nurses available on-site 24-hours a day in case of an emergency.

Written by Bethany Village

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