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How Senior Living Terminology has Changed Over the Years

Over the years, the most common terms associated with senior living have evolved and changed. Understanding not only the appropriate words to use but the meaning and use of these words can making seeking, evaluating, and selecting a senior living facility for your loved one an easier, clearer process.


Changes in terminology have evolved over time to promote increased dignity, respect, and enrichment as well as to reflect new senior living options that provide a more comfortable, home-like environment for seniors. In other words, it’s not only the terminology that has changed over the years, but the care and services provided for seniors in controlled environments.

Another reason for the change is the stigma that has become attached to terms like “nursing home” over the years. The elderly have come to dread the thought of a sterile, white-walled nursing home that represents an institution or hospital. With this stigma came a new need to not only transform the ways in which we name or refer to senior care, but also the environment and services as a whole. The school of thought today is that nursing homes should be comfortable, similar to home, inviting, and engaging. Not only do inviting, home-like facilities improve quality of life for seniors, but they eliminate the fear that came with visiting institutions of the past to improve socialization and family connections.

Today’s facilities offer top-notch amenities, including everything from relaxing and rejuvenating spa and salon services to work opportunities for residents to daily happy hour. Facilities are staffing more versatile staff to make them “part of the family” rather than a cook, laundry aide, or caregiver. Many staff members provide universal assistance, taking out the garbage, assisting with showers, and playing a game of Pinochle all in a day’s work. Rather than hurriedly completing caregiving and housekeeping tasks for residents, staff are focused on improving quality of life by maintaining and even increasing independence through carefully planned support services.

So what are the changes in terminology and what underlying changes do they reflect?

  • Rather than using the term patient, which indicates illness or institutionalization, we now use the term resident, to indicate a human being at home.
  • Rather than using the term elderly, which is attached a stigma of senility and infirmity, we call them elders, which nearly demands respect and reverence.
  • Rather than touring a facility, we now visit, which again reinforces the idea of a second home rather than a business.
  • The terms admission and discharge, which refer to institutionalization, we now move in and out.
  • Instead of long term care, we now refer to skilled nursing services as senior living; this is their home, after all. Similarly, assisted living facilities are now assisted living residences, homes, or communities.
  • Instead of referring to their home as a unit, we now call it their apartment, suite, or bedroom.

In conclusion, the changes in senior living semantics are not in semantics alone; they affect the daily life of a senior in need of assistance. Here at Dynamic nursing we go an extra mile to make sure we use all the modern terminologies and make the patients comfortable.

5 Responses to “How Senior Living Terminology has Changed Over the Years”

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