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Caregiver Glossary of Terms

NJ Department of Health and Senior Services


Abuse
Abuse is any situation that creates potential harm to an individual - emotional or physical. Also, see Adult Protective Services in this Glossary. 

Activities of Daily Living (ADL)
An individual's daily routine, including bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, walking, using the telephone, taking medications, getting in and out of a bed or a chair, and other personal care activities.

Acute Illness
A serious illness such as a heart attack or stroke that develops rapidly with pronounced symptoms. The illness can be of short duration such as influenza.

Adaptive Devices
A variety of devices that are used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals, providing the assistance needed to stay at home. These devices may help with vision, hearing, mobility, communication or other needs, and include wheelchairs, walkers, touch-sensitive light switches, phone amplifiers, stair lifts, chairs with lifts and computers. May also be known as Assistive Technology.

Adult Day Health Services
A program that provides medically necessary services in an ambulatory care setting to persons who are nonresidents of the facility, and who, due to their physical and/or cognitive impairment, require such services supportive to their community living that cannot be provided elsewhere. The facility must be licensed by the Department of Health and Senior Services and clients must meet eligibility criteria established by the Department.

Adult Protective Services (APS)
Adult Protective Services includes the 24-hour, 365 days a year access to assistance and/or referral with reports of physical, sexual or emotional abuse, neglect by caretaker, self-neglect, exploitation and abandonment. 

Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer's Disease is 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.

Area Agency on Aging (AAA or Triple A)
New Jersey's 21 Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) are the local representatives throughout the state for the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. They plan and coordinate services for people over age 60 in a designated geographical area. They are also known as the County Office on Aging.

Assessment
A process used by care managers to gather information about an individual to determine his or her functional needs and/or eligibility for services. Information collected may include health status, financial status, ability to perform activities of daily living, mental status, etc. 

Assisted Living Facilities
Assisted Living Facilities provide assistance with activities of daily living, 24-hour supervision, and medication management. The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services licenses Assisted Living Facilities. 

Attorney-in-fact
In legal terms, the person who is granted power-of-attorney. See Power-of Attorney for more detail.

Audiologist
A licensed health care practitioner who specializes in the evaluation and rehabilitation of communication disorders associated with hearing loss.

Auditory Training
A program designed to improve listening skills. 

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

Care/Case Management
Care management is the process through which needs are identified and managed to allow the consumer to receive service in the most appropriate, least restrictive setting. This process focuses on consumer need and includes: development of a care plan addressing consumer need; explaining options for service delivery; ongoing monitoring of service delivery; periodically reassessing the consumer condition; making the necessary adjustments to the care plan; and notification to providers of changes in service provision.

Caregiver Support Group
The group led by a professional and/or volunteer that allows caregivers to meet in a supportive atmosphere to express their feelings, share coping skills, and learn about aging issues and resources for help.

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

Children of Aging Parents (CAPS)
Children of Aging Parents is a 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.

Chore Service
Chore services are semi-skilled home repairs and maintenance tasks performed to enhance the health and safety of the individual in the home. These services are provided through the local Area Agency on Aging, volunteer programs, or youth groups to help older people live safely and comfortably in their own homes.

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

Concerns/Complaints
Concerns/complaints related to issues surrounding the care of an elderly individual's home and/or institutional care.

Congregate Meals
Nutritious meals provided at least five days a week in local Senior Citizen Centers throughout the State. Meals are usually served around noon, and in some areas meals may be available at other times of the day. Besides providing nutrition, congregate meals provide needed socialization for older adults.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)
Retirement communities that provide a wide spectrum of care from independent living arrangements to skilled nursing facilities. Residents move between levels of care as their needs change. Services are provided through a lifetime contractual arrangement. Residents usually pay an entrance fee plus a monthly maintenance charge.

Counseling
This is a service that helps consumers adjust to personal crises, change in personal roles, and to learn effective ways to control personal and family stress.
County Welfare Office (CWO) or County Board of Social Services (BSS) 
These are offices in each county that provide information on food stamps, medical assistance and general assistance. These offices are under the jurisdiction of the NJ Department of Human Services. 

Custodial Care
Custodial means help and supervision with daily living activities - dressing, eating, personal hygiene, and similar functions.

Dementia
A clinical term used to describe a group of brain disorders that disrupt and impair cognitive functions -- thinking, memory, judgment -- personality, mood, and social interaction. Also, see Senility in this Glossary. 

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
HUD has a wide array of programs to: help people buy homes; create affordable rental housing; spur community and economic development; enforce fair housing laws.

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 a tax advisor 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 document which names a person who will make health care decisions for the principal if that individual becomes 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. 

ECO Waiver Programs
The Waiver provides options to consumers in need of Long Term Care services. This multifaceted program provides in-home care through several programs - Jersey Assistance For Community Caregivers (JACC), Caregiver Assistance Program (CAP), Community Care for the Elderly and Disabled (CCPED)-- and community-based care --Assisted Living (AL) and Adult Family Care (AFC). Information is available through AAA. 

Elder Abuse
Elder abuse refers to any situation in which an elderly individual may suffer emotional or physical abuse from another individual.

Elder Law Attorney
An attorney who specializes in the 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.

Estate
The term used to represent all of an individual or couple's personal assets.

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

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

Geriatric Assessment
An evaluation of an older person's physical, psychological, and social condition by a professional team of specialists. This team makes recommendations to the older person, family, and primary care doctor. Geriatric assessments are offered in geriatric evaluation centers and are generally associated with hospitals.

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

Geriatric 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. The social worker may assist the individual/family to access services, and then assist them to use the resources effectively.

Gerontologist
A professional who specializes in the mental and behavioral characteristics 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. A conservator is similarly appointed, but only for financial affairs.

Guardianship
The process in which an individual is appointed by a court of law to manage a person's financial and/or personal affairs because the person is not able to or is not competent to manage his/her own affairs.

Handicap Parking
Special parking for handicapped individuals. If you are interested in handicapped parking placards, contact Motor Vehicle services at 1-888-486-3339 or 609-292-6500.

Home Delivered Meals
Hot and nutritious meals delivered to homebound persons who are unable to prepare their own meals and have no outside assistance. Also, see Meals on Wheels in this glossary. 

Home Health Care
Nursing and other health care services that are physician ordered and performed in the home by someone with special training including registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, therapists and home health aides. Home Health Agencies licensed by the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services provide and coordinate these services. 

Homemaker/Home Health Aid Service
A trained person, working under supervision, providing personal care, household cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, laundry, transportation, for an elderly or disabled person. 

Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA)
The HMFA was created to improve the supply of available housing in NJ for low and moderate-income families, the elderly and the disabled. HMFA operates programs in rental housing, construction, home ownership, foreclosure assistance and rehabilitation.

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 the family. Hospice care emphasizes pain control, symptom management, and emotional support rather than the use of life-sustaining equipment.

Hospitals
Community-based acute care hospitals provide short-term inpatient health care to residents of New Jersey. 

Incontinence
The loss of voluntary control over bladder or bowel functions.

Independent Senior Housing 
Self-contained apartments designed to promote independence, provide common space and activities, available in communities throughout the state. 

Informal Support
An individual willing to provide a service to a dependent person without reimbursement, e.g., family member or neighbor.

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

In-home Caregiver Education and Support Program 
A program designed to give in-home education and support to individual caregivers. It provides up to 5 home visits from a variety of professionals who can provide training required to care for a particular frail or disabled adult. 

Irrevocable Living Trust
Irrevocable living trusts are similar to revocable living trusts, except that you cannot revoke (that is, change or end) the trust after you have established it. In addition to having the same benefits as a revocable trust, an irrevocable trust also may provide savings on the estate taxes, and may prevent the loss of government benefits for a loved one. 

Joint Ownership
Joint ownership, used for a variety of purposes, can have positive or negative effects on access to jointly owned property. Your decision to hold property jointly should be based on your trust in the person with whom you hold joint ownership, and your needs and intentions with regard to the property. 

Legal Blindness
Visual acuity is 20/200 or less in the better eye with the use of the best corrective lens, or a field defect in which the widest diameter of the remaining field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees.

Legal Counsel for the Elderly
This service is designed to assist older New Jersey residents in the resolution of legal problems. The AARP provides a network of attorneys who reduce their fees for AARP members.

Level of Care
Refers to the outcome of an assessment designed to determine the most appropriate setting for the delivery of long-term care to an elderly person. 

Living Trust
A trust created during the life of the grantor used in estate and tax planning. See revocable and/or irrevocable living trust in this glossary. 

Living Will/Advance Directive for Healthcare
A written document prepared by a competent adult that may be used when the individual becomes incapacitated by illness or injury, and is unable to speak for him/herself. It directs caregivers to either use, or not use, extraordinary means to sustain life. 

Long Term Care Insurance
This type of insurance policy is designed to cover long-term care expenses at home or in a facility other than an acute care unit of a hospital. Neither Medicare nor Medicare supplemental insurance (Medigap) will pay for these expenses.

Long Term Care (LTC)
A general term that describes a wide range of medical, nursing, custodial, social, and community services provided over an extended period of time. These services are designed to help people with chronic health impairments or forms of dementia live as independently as possible.

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
This program helps low-income families pay a portion of their winter heating bills. The Department of Community Affairs, Division of Housing and Community Resources administers LIHEAP. 

Low Vision
Reduced visual acuity and/or abnormal visual fields resulting from a disorder in the visual system. 

Meals-on-Wheels
Meals delivered on a regular schedule -- daily, Monday to Friday, and in some counties -- including weekends, to housebound elderly or elderly people unable to cope with meal preparation, for little or no cost. Also, see Home Delivered Meals in this glossary. 

Medicaid (Medical Assistance)
The health insurance program, financed by the federal and state government for eligible low-income people, that pays for all or part of the cost of certain medical care and services, long term care, and certain deductibles and co-payments. 

Medical Assistance Estate Recovery Information
The Department of Human Services (DHS) is required to recover the Medical Assistance (MA) cost paid to certain individuals who have died from the assets of the probate estate. This affects persons 55+ who have died and who received MA benefits for hospital or nursing home care or prescription drugs. 

Medical Directive
Also called a Living Will, Advanced Medical Directive, and Health Care Proxy. This legal document enables an individual to give instructions about future medical care, in the event they have become incompetent or are unable to speak for themselves due to illness.

Medical Review Organization (MRO) known as PRONJ 
PRONJ is a Medical Review Organization (PRO) designed to protect Medicare beneficiaries receiving care in New Jersey.

Medicare
The national health insurance program for eligible people 65 and older and some disabled individuals. Part A covers hospital costs. Part B covers doctor bills and other medical costs. Patients must pay deductibles and co-payments, and pay for any expenses not covered by Medicare. 

Medigap Insurance 
This is supplemental insurance designed to complement Medicare's benefits by filling in some of the gaps in Medicare coverage. Medigap insurance policies are non-group policies that may pay for Medicare deductibles, prescription drugs, or other services not covered by Medicare. 

New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS)
The Department that administers programs benefiting older adults and seeks to enhance the quality of life of older New Jersey Residents. DHSS oversees the State's 21 Area Agencies on Aging, and is responsible for licensing all health care facilities including Adult Day Health Centers. 

New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS)
State department that administers a broad range of state programs available to individuals with low to moderate income designed to promote, improve and sustain the quality of family life in New Jersey. 

New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT)
The Department oversees the state's licensing and testing of drivers, and licensing of motor vehicles and also administers the Shared-Ride and Free Transit programs for older adults.

Nursing Facility (NF)aka Nursing Homes 
A facility that provides care for chronically ill or disabled persons who require institutional care. Approximately 350 nursing homes throughout the state provide physician-ordered medical services and supervised nursing care on a 24-hour basis for persons who do not require acute care hospitalization, and whose needs can only be met through inpatient care in a long-term care nursing facility. The NJ Department of Health and Senior Services licenses nursing facilities.

Nursing Facility (NF) clinical eligibility
Refers to an individual who is assessed and determined to be clinically eligible for services in a nursing facility. This determination is made by an Area Agency on Aging or a local office of the New Jersey Department of Health using a standardized assessment. A NF clinically eligible consumer, whose care can be provided at home, may choose to remain at home with appropriate services, or go to a Nursing Facility. Clinical eligibility is required for access to any of the ECO Waiver programs. See Eco Waiver Program in this glossary. 

Occupational Therapist (OT)
A licensed professional who helps a person relearn activities of daily living (ADLs) through rehabilitation activities and the development of personal devices. The therapist will also assist with modifications for the home designed to maintain independence. 

Ombudsman
A person available through the Office of the Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly (OOIE), NJ Department of Health and Senior Services, to investigate complaints made by or on behalf of older persons in long term care facilities, such as nursing facilities or assisted living facilities. This program advocates and protects the rights of residents in long-term care facilities by investigating complaints, mediating and resolving disputes, and initiating corrective actions.

Ophthalmologist
A medical doctor who is trained to diagnose and treat diseases of the eye and provide total eye care.

Optometrist
A doctor of optometry who examines eyes for both health and vision problems, and can prescribe lenses or vision therapy to restore and maintain good vision. 

Patient Bill of Rights
A list of principles to be followed to ensure that patients receiving health care services will be treated with dignity and will participate fully in decisions relevant to their health care.

Personal Care Assistance Program (PCA)
Personal Care services provided through home health agencies and include personal care, bathing, meal preparation, assistance with activities of daily living (ADL) and light housekeeping.

Personal Emergency Response System (PERS)
Equipment that monitors the safety of older people in their homes through signals electronically transmitted over the telephone and received at an emergency-monitoring center. 

Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (PAAD) 
A program that assists eligible New Jersey residents with payment for their prescription medicines through a co-payment program. For expanded eligibility, see Senior Gold in the Glossary. 

Physical Therapist (PT)
A licensed professional who treats impaired motor function through exercise, massage, hydrotherapy, or mechanical devices to improve physical mobility.

Power of Attorney (POA)
Any person of capacity, 18 or older, can designate another person to act on his/her behalf. The power of attorney can be limited to certain specific responsibilities or it can cover large general areas of decision-making regarding financial affairs. 

Primary Caregiver
The individual who has the main responsibility for helping an older person. The individual usually is the one who makes decisions and organizes care and services.

Primary Care Physician (PCP)
The doctor who is consulted first when a health problem occurs and on whom the patient relies for advice, referrals, and ongoing care.

Private Geriatric Care Managers
Specially trained in geriatric care management, Geriatric Care Managers provide case management services on a fee-for-service basis to individual clients. 

Prosthetic Device (Prosthesis)
An artificial device that is used to replace a missing part or enhance a functional part of the body. 

Rehabilitation Hospitals
Institutions that provide a multidisciplinary approach to goal setting, planning, treatment, and the delivery of patient care with a team of physicians, nurses, therapists, social workers and psychologists. Therapies are provided throughout the day with each patient receiving a minimum of three hours of therapy a day.

Respite Care
Temporary care provided when the primary caretaker needs time away from caregiving. Respite care is provided in-home or as an alternative location for a short stay. 

Reverse Mortgages
A reverse mortgage enables elderly homeowners to convert the equity in their homes to monthly income or a line of credit. For information, contact the nearest HUD office.

Revocable Living Trust
A revocable living trust allows you to transfer ownership of your property to a separate entity called a trust. The trust is managed according to the rules you establish in the trust document for the benefit of the beneficiaries named in the trust. 

Senility
A term used to refer to the mental and physical deterioration of old age. Not a medical term. Also, see Dementia in this Glossary.

Senior Centers
These centers provide services to senior citizens, 60 and over. They provide: social activities, congregate meals, health screenings, educational programs, and exercise programs.

Senior Gold 
A new tier of eligibility for assistance with the payment for drugs under the PAAD program. It extends the eligibility income limits, and offers a safety net for excessive drug costs. See the PAAD in the Glossary. 

Service Provider
An agency or person employed to provide a service.

Skilled Nursing Facility, see Nursing Facility in this Glossary.

State Health Insurance Program (SHIP)
A state program that provides assistance to the elderly regarding insurance, benefits, and claims. 

Social Adult Day Services 
A program that emphasizes social and therapeutic recreational activities in a group setting, with some health monitoring. Clients attending social adult day services program may not need medical attention during the day, but may need supervision for safety and activities of daily living. Programs are not licensed by the Department of Health and Senior Services but the building must meet local building codes.

Social Security
The comprehensive federal program of benefits providing workers and their dependents with retirement income, disability income, and other payments.

Speech Language Pathologist
A licensed health care professional, trained at the master's or doctoral level, who provides diagnostic and treatment services to individuals with speech, language, and hearing problems.

Subsidized Housing
Rental assistance is available through Federal Government to low income elderly people and families. 

Surrogate Decision Maker
A person appointed by the consumer to act in his/her place. 

Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE)
TCE is designed primarily for persons 60 years or older, particularly those who are confined to their residences or retirement communities. IRS-trained volunteers from non-profit organizations provide free tax counseling and basic income tax return preparation to senior citizens. TCE sites can be found by contacting Area Agencies on Aging or through AARP.

Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TTY, TDD)
TTY and TDD enable both hearing and speech impaired individuals to connect any phone utilizing one of the local MRC (Message Relay Centers). In addition to telephone equipment, specialized software is available for converting computers to communication devices for the hearing and visually impaired. 

Telephone Reassurance Program
Daily phone contact from a volunteer to a disabled or elderly person is provided to check on their safety and to provide personal contact.

Trustee
A legal term referring to a person who holds legal title to property in order to administer it for a beneficiary. 

Universal Service Fund (USF)
The USF will assist eligible consumers with the cost of energy. 
Reduced Fare Program
This program provides reduced fare transit service on local established bus routes, and rapid transit lines during midday and evening hours, on weekdays and weekends.

Veterans Administration (VA)
The New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs administers a variety of programs to assist veterans and their families.

Visiting Nurse
A trained professional nurse who visits patients in their homes to monitor vital signs, the physical condition, and carry out a physician's treatment plan. 

Visual Acuity
The ability of the eye to perceive the detail of objects in the direct line of sight. Visual acuity is measured by viewing standardized letters of varying sizes on a chart and is expressed as a ratio, e.g., 20/20.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
VITA involves IRS-trained volunteers who provide free tax assistance at community locations to individuals of all ages -- particularly those with limited income -- who need assistance with basic income tax return preparation. 

Weatherization Programs
The NJ Department of Community Affairs operates an at-home weatherization program.

Will
A legal document that sets forth a person's wishes for disposing of assets after death.


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