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Glossary of Caregiving and Related Terms

Activities of daily living (ADLs) – Basic self-care activities including eating, bathing, dressing, and using the toilet.
Adult day care – Care usually provided outside the home during day-time hours for elderly and disabled, including meals and therapeutic activities/services.

Advance directive – A living will, health-care proxy and/or durable power of attorney as legal instruments specifying what a person wants or does not want done to prolong life.

Ambulatory – The ability to walk without assistance.

Ambulatory with Assistance – The ability to walk with the aid of a cane, crutch, brace, wheelchair or walker.

Area Agency on Aging (AAA) – Local/regional government services provided for older persons.

Asset – Program eligibility subject to income and property requirements.

Caregiving – Performing a continuum of tasks to assist in ADLs and other services such as housekeeping, shopping, transportation, financial monitoring or total care of an impaired person.

Certification/License – Facilities desiring to participate in the Medicare or Medicaid program must meet participation conditions for certification. Also an annual license is issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health to any person conducting or maintaining a home health agency.

CNA (Certified Nurse Aide) – A person who has completed training as a nurses aide and is certified to perform these duties under the direction of a registered nurse or appropriate therapist, i.e., personal care, assisting with ambulation.

Come and Go – 4 to 5 hours of work each day.

Comprehensive – A full range of available services including various levels of nursing care, support therapies, psycho/social assessments, treatment and referral to appropriate resources.

CVA (Cerebrovascular Accident/Stroke) – A life-threatening event in which the brain’s vital supply of oxygen is disrupted. A stroke can affect the senses, speech, behavior, thought patterns and memory. It may also result in paralysis, coma and death.

DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) – A written order from the physician, per the patient’s request, to withhold further medical treatment if the condition worsens, resulting in both breathing and heart stoppage. CPR, intubation, IV’s and ventilators would not be used to restore life.

Extended Care – Short-term or temporary care in a hospital available for those awaiting permanent nursing home or less intense nursing care prior to returning home.

HHA (Home Health Aide) – A person who has training in those supportive services which are required to provide personal care, emotional comfort and to assist the patient toward independent living in a safe environment. In home health, written instructions for patient care are prepared by a registered nurse or the appropriate therapist.

High Tech/ Low Tech Home Care – High Tech Home Care refers to the use of IV (intravenous) therapy, ventilators and TPN (Total Peritoneal Nutrition) in the home. Low tech home care refers to any other care provided in the home, i.e. wound; catheter care.

Homemaker – A person who assists in the home with homemaking activities such as preparing meals, cleaning, laundry, shopping.

Hospice – Refers to the care given to a terminally ill person or the benefit available to a terminally ill person.

Infusion Therapy – Injection of a solution directly into a vein. (IV therapy)

Interim Care – Same as “Extended Care.”

Intermediate care – Assistance with activities of daily living plus rehabilitation services usually provided by licensed therapists and registered nurses as well as licensed practical nurses.

Intermittent Care – A requirement for services to be covered by Medicare; home health services given to a patient at least once every 60 days or as frequently as a few hours a day, several times per week.

Lab draws – Venipuncture to draw blood for laboratory test.

Levels of Care – Custodial care = Assistance with activities of daily living, usually provided by licensed practical nurses or home-health aids.

Live-In – A person who will live in the home of an individual requiring health care to provide assistance to the individual.

Living Will – A document which tells your doctor or other health care providers whether or not you want death-delaying treatments or procedures administered to you if you are in a terminal condition. It is called a “living will” because it takes effect while you are still living.

LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) – A person who has completed training as a practical nurse and may perform selected nursing duties in accordance with Illinois Nursing Act of 1997, including the administration of treatments and medications in the care of the ill, under the direction of a registered nurse.

Medicare – The Health Insurance for the Aged and Disabled Act (Title XVIII of the Social Security Act), known as “Medicare,” has made available to nearly every American 65 years of age and older, a broad program of health insurance designed to assist the nation’s elderly to meet hospital, medical and other health costs.Does NOT cover long-term custodial care.

Medicaid – A state and federal health assistance program that pays medical bills for low-income people who cannot afford the costs of medical care.

Multi-discipline – All services/staff work together as a treatment team toward resolution of specific goals for the client.

Ombudsman – a person who investigates complaints about long-term care facilities where older people live.

ORS (Occupational Rehabilitation Services) – A program for persons under age 60 who are at risk of nursing home placement or who require information and assistance.

OT (Occupational Therapy) – Evaluation of the patient’s level of function; guidance in the use of therapeutic, creative and self-care activities for the purpose of improving everyday living.

Palliative – Serving to relieve or alleviate, without curing; (emphasis on comfort care.) i.e. palliative treatment of pain.

Personal Care – Personal Care means bathing, dressing, grooming, caring for hair, nail and oral hygiene which are needed to facilitate treatment or to prevent deterioration of the beneficiary’s health; changing the bed linens of an incontinent person; shaving, deodorant application, skin care with lotions and/or powder, foot care, and ear care. Also feeding; assistance with elimination; assistance with ambulation, changing position in bed, assistance with transfers.

POA (Power of Attorney) – The patient identifies and authorizes a relative, friend or professional to follow their written directives and make health and/or financial decisions on their behalf. Frequently this directive precedes failing health to ensure that the patient’s wishes are followed. The patient may cancel this legal document, in writing, at any time.

Prognosis – A prediction of the probable course of a disease in an individual and the chances of recovery.

PT (Physical Therapy) – Refers to the manual therapeutic exercises to improve or maintain muscle function, applying precise amounts of manual force and guiding patient’s body parts through selective patterns and degrees of movement; assisting the patient in using available equipment: i.e., canes, crutches, walkers and treatments involving application of physical therapy agents such as heat, light, cold, water and electricity.

Rehabilitation Therapy – All the therapies required to return a person to their pre-illness condition; i.e., physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, respiratory therapy.

Respite care: – Short term care arrangements to provide temporary relief from caregiving responsibilities for caregivers.

RN (Registered Nurse) – A nurse who has completed extensive training, has passed a specific state examination qualifying him/her to perform complete nursing services, and is currently licensed as a registered nurse under the Illinois Nursing Act of 1997.

RT (Respiratory Therapy) – Evaluation of the patient’s respiratory (breathing) capacity; provides rehabilitative services to improve or maintain respiratory function. Services range from the administration of oxygen to medications and “hands-on” therapy.

Skilled Care – A skilled nursing service is one which must be provided by a registered nurse, a licensed practical nurse or a licensed vocational nurse (under the supervision of a registered or occupational therapist). It is a skilled therapy service if it can be performed safely and/or effectively only by or under the general supervision of a skilled therapist. The service needed by the patient must be considered a skilled service to be covered by Medicare.

SSI (Supplemental Security Income) – A federal government program that pays monthly benefits to individuals who have a low income and few assets; also must be age 65 or older, or blind, or disabled. The federal government establishes a basic national payment level each year.

SSDI – Social Security Disability Insurance. In July 1973, Medicare coverage was extended to include disabled persons under sixty-five who qualified for Social Security cash disability benefits (for at least twelve consecutive months) and persons under sixty-five who required hemodialysis or kidney transplantation. The Medicare benefits provided to these disabled person are the same as for persons sixty-five years of age and older. The person must have worked under the Social Security Act five years out of the previous ten years before they were disabled.

ST (Speech Therapy) – Evaluation of the patient’s speech and language abilities; provide rehabilitation services for speech and language disorders.

TDD – A phone relay system for the hearing impaired which can be utilized by the hearing to communicate with the deaf client. Illinois numbers are 1-800-526-0844 for the hearing impaired and 1-800-526-0857 for voice.

TIA (Transient Ischemic Attacks) – Mini-strokes, frequently lasting less that 5 minutes, with symptoms similar to those of a full-fledged stroke. Prompt medical attention is essential.

Tuck-In – A service which goes to the client’s home in the evening, helps prepare them for bed and “tuck-in” for the night.

Vitals – Blood pressure, temperature and respiratory rate.