If you are new to the senior care industry and have started to look for senior care, understanding the language and the acronyms can be a challenge. We’ve assembled some of the questions we are most frequently asked with answers below.

Q: My husband has Alzheimer’s disease. When we started investigating a nursing home for him, I was told Medicare won’t cover it because he is receiving custodial care and not skilled care. What is the difference between custodial care and skilled care?

A: Generally, care is considered custodial care when it is care that helps support activities of daily living (ADLs). ADLs are actions such as cooking, bathing, dressing and more. These activities do not require the skills of a licensed, professional caregiver.

Skilled care is when a person requires the skills of a licensed professional. Some examples include wound care following a surgery or accident, physical therapy to recover from an injury, speech therapy following a stroke or the administration of IV antibiotics. They are usually short term in nature with the exception of patients with a chronic illness that requires a ventilator or long-term treatments.

Q: We are looking around for an assisted living apartment for my aunt. The person we spoke with asked us how ambulatory she was. What does being ambulatory mean?

A: Ambulatory is a term used in senior living to describe a person’s ability to walk around. They ask that because it helps them to determine how much care your aunt will need. For example, if she is able to “ambulate” on her own to the dining room, it is likely that she will need less care than someone who requires the use of a wheelchair.

Q: We have toured two assisted living communities to find care for my father. In one newer community, the residents seemed much more active than in one that has been around longer. Why are there such differences in assisted living communities? Shouldn’t residents be required to move to a nursing home?

A: That is one of the most frequently asked questions while looking for senior living! Some senior living communities follow a philosophy referred to as aging in place. Aging in place means that once a resident has moved into an assisted living community, they are allowed to remain there while they physically and mentally decline. The senior living community typically brings more services to them as they are required. Communities allow residents to remain there as long as they are not a danger to themselves or to the residents around them that is why the level of activity sometimes varies community to community.

Q: I have been caring for my wife at home for nearly 4 years now. She has dementia and keeping up with her is wearing me out. My doctor suggested I place her in a nursing care community for a respite stay. What is a respite stay?

A: Sounds like your doctor thinks you need a break from care giving! A respite stay is often viewed as a break for a weary caregiver. Respite stays can range from a few hours up to a month. This service gives caregivers the opportunity to run errands or to just take a nap! It is also an alternative for a family if the caregiver needs to attend an out-of-town wedding or go on a business trip. Respite stays can also be used to test out the community to see if the senior likes living there. Assisted Living communities typically offer respite stays as well.

Q: Our adult son keeps telling us that we need to have an Advance Directive. What is an Advance Directive?

A: An Advance Directive is most commonly known as a “Living Will.” It is a written document that states a person’s health care preferences and who their decision maker is in the event they have a serious illness or injury that makes them unable to make their own health care decisions. It helps your family clearly understand what your wishes are in the event that you cannot speak for yourself.

If you have a question about senior living that we haven’t covered, contact your local Senior Care Advisor at (866) 510-9738 or email our experts by filling out the form below to send us a question. We’ll be happy to help!

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