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CaringForASenior.com is committed to making in-home care accessible to all care seekers. We do this by providing informative articles and resources that can help you understand the options available to you in a time of need. And once you're ready to seek care assistance, we offer a directory of nearby care providers.

Common Confusing Words Related to Senior Caregiving

While searching for in home care and caregiving options, different terminology, unfamiliar acronyms, and words that look similar may cause confusion. Here is a list of common terms you may come across that many people find confusing.

In home care (or homecare): Numerous variations to the word “in home care” confuse many people. Basically, in home care is any form of caregiving that is provided in the home of the care recipient. There are two different types of in home care. One is medical in home care. This type of in home care provides medical services usually by a nurse or a skilled health worker in the home of the recipient. Medical in home care is also known as home health care. The other type of in home care is non medical in home care. Caregiving for non medical in home care typically includes all aspects of caregiving that does not require special medical training. Non medical in home care is also known as: personal care, custodial care, homemaker care, private duty, private pay, or homecare.

Medicare: Non medical in home care is generally not covered by Medicare. Medicare is a federal program that provides health care for seniors over the age 65, and others who are disabled or blind. Under certain circumstances, Medicare will cover short-term nursing home care after hospitalization and medical in home care (or home health care) for those who qualify.

Medigap (Medicare Supplement Insurance): Medigap is a private supplemental insurance available to Medicare beneficiaries that covers medical expenses not covered by Medicare. Like Medicare, non medical in home care is generally not covered.

Medicaid: This is a federal program administered by individual states that provides health care coverage for those with limited income. Each state manages its own Medicaid program and may use a different name. For example, in California, this program is called “Medi-Cal,” Tennessee calls it “TennCare,” and “MassHealth” in Massachusetts.

Long term care insurance (LTC or LTCI): Long term care insurance covers caregiving generally not covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance. LTC generally covers in home care, assisted living, adult day care, respite care, hospice care, nursing home care, and Alzheimer’s care.

Activities of daily living (ADL): In home care provides caregiving in ADL. ADL is a term used by healthcare professionals describe basic everyday self-care tasks. ADLs consist of six basic functions:

  • Personal hygiene and grooming
  • Dressing and undressing
  • Eating
  • Walking
  • Continence: bowel and bladder control
  • Transferring: in and out of bed, on and off the toilet

Instrumental activities of daily living (IADL): In home care provides caregiving in IADL. IADL is a term is used by healthcare professionals to describe everyday activity not essential for basic functions but necessary for living independently. IADLs consist of the following daily tasks:

  • Light housekeeping
  • Laundry
  • Managing finances
  • Shopping for groceries and clothing
  • Taking medications as prescribed
  • Using the telephone
  • Meal preparation
  • Having access to a mode of transportation

AARP: This is a non-governmental organization and interest group that advocates for a better quality of life for seniors. AARP has two divisions, AARP Foundation and AARP Services Inc. AARP Foundation is a non-profit organization that advocates for the senior community and provide educational material on senior caregiving. The latter is a for-profit organization that offers Medicare supplemental health insurance, prescription drug discounts, long term care insurance, and other services. AARP is an acronym for American Association of Retired Persons.

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