Glossary of Terms

The goal of Agibly™ isn't to define how you live, but rather to help you make informed decisions so you can write your own future. Understanding words and abbreviations that commonly arise as you make choices for you or your loved one is essential to the decision-making process. Use this guide to find the information you need now, and bookmark it for future reference.

Quickly navigate the page with these letter links

A

A&A: abbreviation for Aid and Attendance benefits provided by Veterans Affairs to veterans (or their spouses) who require physical assistance with activities of daily living. Visit our Veterans Benefits resource page for more information.

Activities of Daily Living: a term used by healthcare professionals encompassing self-care activities required for independent living, including standing/walking, bathing/showering, dressing, grooming and eating. Abbreviated ADL.

Acute Care: medical treatment for brief but severe health conditions resulting from illness, injury, trauma or surgery.

ADL or ADLs: an abbreviation for activities of daily living, a term used by healthcare professionals encompassing self-care activities required for independent living, including standing/walking, bathing/showering, dressing, grooming and eating.

Aging in Place: modifying one’s existing home to safely accommodate changing physical needs rather than relocating to a smaller home, independent living community, assisted living facility or another type of senior housing.

Aid and Attendance: financial assistance provided by Veterans Affairs available to veterans (or their spouses) who require physical assistance with activities of daily living. Visit our Veterans Benefits resource page for more information.

APS: abbreviation for adult protective services. Visit this page to find the phone number for APS in your area or to get more information on elder abuse.

Assisted Living: a housing option for older adults that offers help with activities of daily living, serves three meals a day and provides limited medical care. Visit our Senior Housing resource page to compare assisted living with other housing and care options.

Alzheimer’s Disease: a progressive disease that starts with mild memory loss and confusion, then worsens as brain cells degenerate and die. Visit our Alzheimer’s and Dementia resource page for more information, including prevention methods and warning signs.

Ambulatory: describing one’s ability to walk; not bedridden.

B

Beneficiary: a person or organization designated in a will, trust or insurance policy to receive monetary proceeds, specific items or other benefits.

C

Care Advisor: the title of Agibly employees who are trained to create comprehensive care plans for older adults.

Cataract: a visual impairment that prevents light from passing into the eye’s lens and causes blurred vision.

Certified Nursing Assistant: a healthcare professional who has completed specialized training and helps patients with activities of daily living, as well as basic healthcare tasks — such as obtaining vital signs and dressing wounds — under the supervision of a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse. Abbreviated CNA.

Chronic Disease: a health condition that limits activities of daily living and requires ongoing medical care for longer than one year.

CNA: abbreviation for certified nursing assistant, a healthcare professional who has completed specialized training and helps patients with activities of daily living, as well as basic healthcare tasks — such as obtaining vital signs and dressing wounds — under the supervision of a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse.

Conservatorship: a legal relationship allowing a court-appointed individual to manage medical and/or financial decisions for an adult who is temporarily or permanently unable to care for themself. Sometimes called a guardianship.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Device: a piece of durable medical equipment used to send a continuous flow of oxygen into one’s body while sleeping to prevent breathing interruptions, improve sleep quality and help lower blood pressure. Abbreviated CPAP.

D

Dementia: a set of symptoms associated with a variety of chronic memory disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease. Visit our Alzheimer’s and Dementia resource page to learn more about the prevention, symptom recognition and diagnosis.

Department of Veterans Affairs: previously known as Veterans Administration, a Cabinet-level department of the United States Government that provides healthcare services and benefits to military veterans and qualifying family members. Also referred to simply as Veterans Affairs and abbreviated VA.

Discharge Planner: an employee (usually a social worker) charged with the transition of care — whether from hospital to home, rehabilitation center or skilled nursing facility — to ensure the physical needs of the patient are met in the appropriate setting Donut Hole: a temporary limit on Medicare Part D, which creates a coverage gap.

Durable Medical Equipment: frequently referred to as DME, this is a term used by Medicare to describe in-home equipment prescribed by a physician for a medical reason. The list includes (but is not limited to) blood sugar meters, canes, hospital beds, nebulizers, scooters, walkers and wheelchairs.

Durable Medical Power of Attorney: also referred to as a healthcare proxy, this legal document allows another individual to make medical decisions on behalf of someone who is unable to speak for themself.

E

Endocrinologist: a medical doctor specializing in the diagnosis and management of diabetes, as well as thyroid diseases, osteoporosis, pituitary tumors and lipid disorders.

F

Frontotemporal Disorders: forms of dementia associated with shrunken lobes in the brain’s frontal and temporal lobes, caused by the loss of nerve cells.

G

Geriatrician: a primary care physician specializing in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of conditions affecting older adults.

Glaucoma: a progressive group of eye conditions that cause pressure buildup in your eye, damage the optic nerve and may result in blindness. Visit our Hearing, Vision and Dental Health resource page for more information.

Guardianship: a legal relationship allowing a court-appointed individual to manage medical and/or financial decisions for an adult who is temporarily or permanently unable to care for themself. Sometimes called a conservatorship.

H

Healthcare Proxy: a legal document that allows another individual to make medical decisions on behalf of someone who is unable to speak for themself. Also referred to as a durable medical power of attorney.

Homebound: describing one’s inability to leave their residence; confined to home.

Home Care: non-medical assistance with activities of daily living, homemaking, transportation and companionship.

Home Health Care: physician-directed, in-home visits made by healthcare professionals that may include registered nurses, wound care specialists, physical and/or occupational therapists, speech pathologists, etc.

Hospice: end-of-life care provided by a team of medical professionals, social workers and spiritual leaders, with common goals of comfort, dignity and quality.

Housebound Benefit: financial assistance paid by Veterans Affairs to a veteran (or spouse) who receives a VA pension and is unable to leave their home. Visit our Veterans Benefits resource page for more information.

I

IADL or IADLs: abbreviation for instrumental activities of daily living, a term used by healthcare professionals encompassing activities that are important but not essential to independent living, including driving, shopping, doing housework, managing medications and paying bills.

Independent Living: a housing option intended for older adults who are mostly self-sufficient with services that may include housekeeping, meal plans and/or transportation shuttles. Visit our Senior Housing resource page to compare independent living with other housing and care options.

Incontinence: the inability to control urination or defecation.

Informal Caregiver: family members, friends, neighbors or other individuals who provide care for older adults without payment.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living: a term used by healthcare professionals encompassing activities that are important but not essential to independent living, including driving, shopping, doing housework, managing medications and paying bills. Abbreviated IADL.

J

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K

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L

Last Will and Testament: a legally binding estate-planning document that details the distribution of assets to beneficiaries upon passing.

Lewy Body Dementia: a progressive disease in which protein deposits (called Lewy bodies by medical professionals) develop in nerve cells and cause a decline in mental abilities, memory and motor control.

Licensed Practical Nurse: a healthcare professional who has completed an accredited practical nursing program and provides basic patient care — such as administering medication and inserting catheters — under the supervision of a registered nurse. Abbreviated LPN.

Living Will: a legal document that communicates one’s decisions regarding end-of-life-care. Also referred to as a healthcare directive or advance directive.

Long-Term Care: a range of medical and non-medical services provided to a person with a chronic illness or disability, who usually resides in a skilled nursing facility or another type of care center.

LPN: abbreviation for licensed practical nurse, a healthcare professional who has completed an accredited practical nursing program and provides basic patient care — such as administering medication and inserting catheters — under the supervision of a registered nurse.

M

Macular Degeneration: a progressive condition affecting the retina’s macula, which leads to a loss of central vision without affecting peripheral vision. For more information on age-related macular degeneration and other visual impairments, visit our Hearing, Vision & Dental Health resource page.

Memory Care: a type of assisted living designed specifically for those with dementia, with additional security features and therapy geared to maintain or improve neurological health. Our Senior Housing resource page offers additional information on memory care assisted living and other options for older adults.

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O

Occupational Therapy: individualized care that helps those with health challenges perform activities of daily living through rehabilitation and adaptive strategies.

Ombudsman: an appointed official who investigates complaints about nursing homes, VA hospitals and other entities, then attempts to resolve conflicts to ensure older adults get the best care possible.

Ophthalmologist: a medical doctor specializing in vision care who has completed advanced training and is licensed to perform surgery.

Optometrist: a healthcare professional specializing in regular vision care such as performing eye exams, prescribing eyewear and treating common conditions like glaucoma.

Original Medicare: a term referring to Parts A and B of the federally funded health insurance program. For more in-depth information on the different parts, visit our Medicare resource page.

Osteoarthritis: damage to the protective cartilage that cushions joints, usually in the hands, hips, knees and/or spine.

P

PA: abbreviation for physician assistant, a healthcare professional with a master’s degree who works under the direct supervision of a medical doctor and is able to conduct physical exams, order and interpret tests to diagnose illness, develop treatment plans and prescribe medication.

Palliative Care: a type of medical care focused on providing comfort and easing side effects associated with potentially curative treatments for a life-threatening disease or chronic illness.

Patient Advocate: a person who helps older adults make medical decisions and get the best care possible by communicating with healthcare providers, scheduling doctor appointments and/or obtaining financial assistance.

Physical Therapy: individualized rehabilitation that includes prescribed exercises, massage techniques, etc. to help people maintain, regain or improve strength following an injury or illness.

Physician Assistant: a healthcare professional with a master’s degree who works under the direct supervision of a medical doctor and is able to conduct physical exams, order and interpret tests to diagnose illness, develop treatment plans and prescribe medication. Abbreviated PA.

Physician Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment Form: a legal document that outlines one’s end-of-life plan more thoroughly than a living will, and includes both patient preferences and doctor recommendations. Abbreviated POLST Form.

Presbycusis: a term used by medical professionals to describe age-related hearing loss. Visit our Hearing, Vision and Dental Health resource page for more information.

Q

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R

Registered Nurse: a healthcare professional who has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and passed an exam to obtain a license and performs a variety of medical tasks — including treating patients, creating care plans, supervising CNAs and LPNs, as well as assisting doctors. Abbreviated RN.

Respite Care: provides short breaks for informal caregivers to preserve their physical and emotional health.

Rheumatologist: a medical doctor who has completed additional training to diagnose and treat arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions.

RN: abbreviation for registered nurse, a healthcare professional who has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and passed an exam to obtain a license and performs a variety of medical tasks — including treating patients, creating care plans, supervising CNAs and LPNs, as well as assisting doctors.

S

Section 8 Housing: the federal government’s voucher program (administered through local housing authorities) that enables low-income families and older adults to pay 30% of their income towards private housing rentals that meet certain standards of health and safety.

Section 42 Housing: one of the federal government’s low-income housing initiatives which gives a tax credit to developers who build affordable housing projects. Also referred to as the Low Income Housing Tax Credit.

SHIP: abbreviation for state health insurance assistance programs. State Health Insurance Assistance Programs: a free service that offers benefits counseling for Medicare beneficiaries and/or their informal caregivers so they can make informed decisions. Abbreviated SHIP.

Skilled Nursing Facility: frequently referred to as nursing homes, this housing option for older adults offers physician-directed care — temporary or permanent — in a residential setting. Visit our Senior Housing resource page for more information. Abbreviated SNF.

SNAP: abbreviation for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, this state-administered benefits program (formally known as food stamps) gives qualifying individuals the means to purchase healthy foods from local grocers.

SNF: abbreviation for skilled nursing facility, frequently referred to as nursing homes, this housing option for older adults offers physician-directed care — temporary or permanent — in a residential setting. Visit our Senior Housing resource page for more information.

Social Security Disability Insurance: an insurance program available to qualifying individuals that pays benefits to those who are unable to work (and their dependents) due to certain medical conditions. Abbreviated SSDI. Form more information, visit our Social Security resource page.

Spend Down: a method that allows individuals to qualify for Medicaid by spending the difference between their income and the state’s financial eligibility limit on medical expenses.

SSDI: abbreviation for Social Security Disability Insurance, this program is available to qualifying individuals that pays benefits to those who are unable to work (and their dependents) due to certain medical conditions.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: formally known as food stamps, this state-administered benefits program gives qualifying individuals the means to purchase healthy foods from local grocers. Abbreviated SNAP.

T

Trusted Provider: an Agibly designation given to qualifying businesses that sets them apart from others in the industry.

U

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V

VA: abbreviation for Department of Veterans Affairs. See full description in section D.

W

Waiver Program: allows individuals with certain conditions to receive Medicaid coverage for at-home care at the same level as a nursing home, based on eligibility requirements of the state they reside in.

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Z

Zoetic: a biological term relating to life; vital.

Zumba: a fitness class offered at many gyms and some senior centers which combines Latin music (of varying tempos) with dance moves.