Caregiver Terminology – Talk the Talk   

Caregiver terminology

Caregiver terminology, a language of its own. Until you enter the “Health Care Zone” you may have heard some of these terms, or not. Once in this zone, meaning you or a loved one has either reached older age, experienced an injury or  been diagnosed with some type of disease,  you and your family must begin deciphering a lot of new terms, understand complex information and make profound decisions.

As a working person, you have your own vernacular and expertise which would seem almost foreign to others. It is the same in the Medical/Health Care fields.  Caring for an elderly parent or spouse uses caregiver terminology and it almost requires taking speed courses in a particular illness or disease, financial planning, Medicare, Elder Law, Home Safety Improvement, Government Benefits, Community Resources to name a few. Ask someone to refrain from speaking in Alphabets and use the full words.

Basic Caregiver terminology you will likely encounter:

GCM- Geriatric Care Manager– Nurse or Social Worker who oversees a parent’s overall wellbeing.

Rehab — Not for Substance Abuse… but where your mother or father may go to get stronger and have physical therapy after a hospital stay and before going home. Also referred to as Nursing Home.

Home Care – catch all phrase which can refer to Medical Home Health Care which is through an Agency or Managed Care Agency – both provide visits from a nurse or therapist, OR can refer to Non-Medical Home Care (private duty) where an Aide or caregiver is present for a few hours or round the clock.

CNA – Certified Nurse Assistant, an aide with more training hours than a Home Health Aide so a CNA can monitor basic vitals – BP, pulse rate.

HHA– Home Health Aide can be a companion but can also help with personal care and household tasks.

Companion Care is basically a sitter, not allowed to help with personal care.

LTC – Long Term Care Insurance- Insurance which pays for Private Duty Home Care. You know if you have it as you would have purchased it and are making premium payments.

Elimination Period – in you LTC policy- the length of time when you are paying out of pocket before the policy benefit begins.

ADLs – Activities of Daily Living: Bathing, Dressing, Transferring (from bed or chair to standing or wheelchair), Toileting and Feeding – Usually 2 or 3 of these are needed triggers for LTC.

Dementia- is a condition whereby one’s memory and cognitive skills diminish over time. Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent form of Dementia

Hospice – A company which provides palliative care where the patient is – at home or in rehab or in hospital. It is a scary word but not what it used to be. People can be on Hospice care for quite a while and it paid for through Medicare

ADRC – Aging & Disability Resource Center – in Florida, the Agency for seniors and people with disabilities to receive services. This is the beginning step for services and benefits including Medicaid.

Aid & Attendance – Program through the Veteran’s Administration which, if you qualify, will help pay for private duty home care.

PBC Palm Beach County

Remember, to folks who work in these professions or places, they are so used to some terminology that they forget that most people are not fluent yet. Always ask when you don’t understand what a phrase or term means, or what the acronym stands for or any lettering in general. Basic understanding of words and terms is the foundation of basic communication.  Someone throwing around professional terms may forget that those words are not part of the daily lexicon for most people and therefore, though well meaning, are not being understood.