Care Terms

A guide to understanding medical terms used in long-term care

Activity of Daily Living (ADL)

These include bathing, dressing, toileting, incontinence care, transferring (to or from bed or chair), and eating.

Certified Nurse Aide or Assistant (CNA)

Someone certified to provide basic nursing care under the direction of a registered nurse or therapist.

Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)

A residential community offering a continuum of care from independent living apartments through skilled nursing care all at the same location.

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)

A written order from a doctor that resuscitation should not be attempted if a person suffers cardiac or respiratory arrest.

Durable Medical Equipment (DME)

Medical equipment prescribed by a doctor for use by a patient at home.

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)

Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA)

It establishes regulations for the use and disclosure of Protected Health Information (PHI).

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

A mental health professional who has a master’s degree in social work (MSW), at least two years of clinical supervision and has passed a state licensing exam.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

LPNs perform medical procedures from simple to complex, but must operate under the supervision of either a registered nurse (RN) or a physician.

Occupational Therapy (OT)

Therapy that trains individuals to manage everyday tasks in order to promote independence and safety in the home.

Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST)

A document to help health care providers honor patients’ treatment wishes.

Physical Therapy (PT)

Services prescribed by a doctor to improve movement, muscle control, flexibility, and range of motion as well as reduce or prevent physical disability.

Primary Care Physician

The medical doctor who acts as the first point of contact with patients with undiagnosed health concerns as well as ongoing care of various medical conditions.

Registered Nurse (RN)

An individual who has completed training and passed a specific examination in order to be licensed by the state to perform nursing services.

Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF)

A residence for people who require constant nursing care and have significant deficiencies with activities of daily living.

Useful Links

These community organizations also provide services for seniors and people with disabilities:

LeadingAge (formerly OSHSA)