; Your Guide to Senior Acronyms Part 1 – LifeCircles PACE
Your Guide to Senior Acronyms Part 1

There’s a lot of jargon tossed around within the medical field, and if you’re not exposed to it every day, it can be hard to keep up. Our team wants participants and those in their lives to feel informed. That’s why we put together a list of common acronyms and terms to help guide you through the world of senior care lingo. Check out some common terms below. We are betting that there will be a part 2 in the future, because this only scratches the surface. If you have questions about care for older persons but don’t want to read the dictionary below, give us a call at 616-347-3477. Our skilled team is eager to share our deep knowledge with you!

A fair skinned man with gray hair, mustache and glasses raises both his hands and smiles at the camera. A walker sits in front of him.

ADLs – Activities of Daily Living

Activities of daily living are all the things a person may do in their day-to-day life related to personal care. That includes things like bathing, getting dressed, eating, and other similar tasks. Nurses and healthcare professionals use this terminology when discussing how independent a participant can be throughout the day and when they may benefit from some additional help.

Advance Directive

An advance directive is a written document that allows you to specify what types of medical care you may want in the future, and / or identify who you would want to make decisions for you related to your health care, if you can no longer make decisions for yourself. This tool gives you more control in determining what you want in the future. In Michigan there are a few types of advance directives that are honored (as of writing in 2022). One is a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare. The other is a Do-Not-Resuscitate Declaration. A great resource for learning more about advance directives is Making Choices Michigan.

AFC -Adult Foster Care Home

Adult foster care homes are residential facilities that offer care and supervision for people who are unable to care for themselves. There are different types of AFC homes in Michigan. There are small family homes that usually can care for up to 6 residents, or medium and large homes that may call themselves Assisted Living Facilities. AFC homes are licensed by the state of Michigan. You can find out more about their licensing history by visiting MDHHS’s Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website. Some of LifeCircles participants live in adult foster care homes.

ALF – Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living homes offer shared living facility with staff that are available to assist with personal care, medication administration, meals and more. There are fewer regulations and staffing requirements in assisted living than in skilled nursing facilities. In Michigan there is not a license or formal designation for Assisted Living Facilities, however many of these facilities seek out licensure as either an Adult Foster Care home or a Home for the Aged. You can find out more about their licensing history by visiting MDHHS’s Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website.

CMS – Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are a federal agency within the United States government that manages healthcare programs. The Centers manage Medicare, Medicaid the Children’s Health Insurance Programs and the federally facilitated insurance Marketplace. LifeCircles PACE has a three-way agreement with CMS and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to provide PACE services. Our healthcare program is regulated by CMS. You can find out more about CMS by visiting their website.

Community Transitions Services formerly known as the Nursing Facility Transitions program (NFT)

This Medicaid funded program helps coordinate moving a current Medicaid eligible nursing home resident to a community-based residence and other care services that they may be eligible for. This program can take some time to ensure a safe and successful return to the community but is geared to help people transition back to their homes or other community setting for the long term. In West Michigan this service is often provided by Reliance Community Care Partners or Disability Network of The Lakeshore or Disability Network West Michigan. If you or someone you know are currently living full time in a nursing home and wish to move home with a PACE program, we will usually recommend you contact a Transitions program to be a bridge out of the nursing home and into the PACE program. Learn more about this Medicaid service on this MDHHS page.


A conservator is a person who protects another individual and their belongings financially and physically while that individual is unable to. Conservators must be appointed by a judge. They’re often deemed necessary when a person has difficulty managing their estate due to age or physical or mental limitations.

DPOAF – Durable Power of Attorney for Finance

This form outlines financial decisions a person chooses in advance in case they’re ever unable to express their wishes. The individual may name a person or agent and give them the ability to enforce the written agreement at their will. Often these documents go into effect as soon as someone completes and signs the document. This document typically needs to be signed in front of a notary.

DPOAHC – Durable Power of Attorney for Health

This is a document used to speak for a person that may be unable to make medical decisions. The Durable Power of Attorney for Health contains steps a doctor may follow and acts as written consent in place of the patient’s verbal consent. This document allows someone to outline healthcare wishes that are important to them. It can also be fairly light on details and name someone the person trusts to act in their best interest. This document typically is not activated or enacted until two physicians have examined the individual and determined the individual can no longer make their health care decisions.

DNR – Do Not Resuscitate

This is a voluntarily signed legal document that tells emergency responders or other health care professionals to not do cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR if the individual stops breathing or if their heart stops beating. This form is signed by the individual or a legally named representative, and by a health care provider.  This order or directive does not impact other treatment choices. If you have one of these documents make sure that it is on file with your health care provider, your local ambulance providers, and your hospital systems.

D-SNP – Dual Eligible Special Needs Plan

A D-SNP is a special type of insurance plan for individuals who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. These plans combine Medicare and Medicaid benefits into one insurance plan. These are only available to certain eligible people; plan availability is based upon where you live. Though LifeCircles PACE is not technically a D-SNP our specialized all-inclusive health and wellness plan shares some similarities with the concept of D-SNP plans.

IDT – Interdisciplinary Team

If you are a member of LifeCircles, or a care partner or family member to someone in our program, you’ve no doubt heard us say things like “we’ll take it to the team” or “the team approved your hearing aides”. We believe that there is great value in having many different skilled health professionals on your care team. This IDT model is a hallmark of PACE programs. Each day the interdisciplinary team meets to discuss the changing needs and goals of those in our program, and to ensure that we are providing care that makes sense for you. We sometimes hear that folks find the more doctors or medical professionals they work with, the more confusing and contradictory care can be. Simply put, health care today can sometimes feel like one doctor doesn’t know what your other doctors are doing. Our interdisciplinary team keeps things from falling through the cracks by having many perspectives and skills advocating for you. For example, your LifeCircles Physical Therapist not only comes to your home to work on strengthening, mobility and pain management goals in your home, but they also are part of your care team that advocates for you and authorizes needed care, supplies and equipment. Unlike other traditional insurances, the local team of professionals that know you, and work with you are the ones who authorize your care, rather than some big insurance office a few states away that do not know your goals, your preferences, or your family.


A guardian is a person who is responsible for making decisions of another individual. This is a person or agency that is appointed through probate court. Legal guardians can make decisions on behalf of the person they care for when it comes to finances, property, and more.

HCBS – Home and Community Based Services

Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) are types of person-centered care supports that are delivered in the home and community instead of institutional settings. There are several types of these programs, and more are being developed all the time. LifeCircles PACE is a Home and Community Based Service. More and more people are making it clear that they do not wish to live in traditional nursing homes or other long term care settings. They would much rather receive long term care or other supportive services in their home or in the community. Taxpayers are also telling the government that they would rather use their dollars to keep people in the community than pay to provide care to them in a traditional living center. Typically, HCBS programs are less costly to taxpayers. You can compare Medicaid funded HCBS programs in Michigan by clicking here.

MA plans – Medicare Advantage Plans

Medicare Advantage Plans are a type of health insurance plan from private insurance companies that Medicare pays to manage health care for beneficiaries. These plans have their own defined networks and must cover all things that Medicare covers. Sometimes these providers refer to themselves as “Medicare Part C Plans”. Some plans choose to offer more services than traditional Medicare covers. Some of these plans offer a zero dollar monthly premium because Medicare pays them to offer these plans on their behalf. Plans range in coverages, networks, premiums, and co-pays. For more information on Medicare plan coverage and options contact the unbiased and free Michigan Medicare Medicaid Assistance Program at – 1-800-803-7174. 

MC – Memory Care

Memory care is a specialized service for people living with Alzheimer’s, dementia, memory challenges, and brain change. This service can be provided in a number of ways, but most people think about Memory Care as a residential living facility that provides assistance for activities of daily living, and may provide programing specifically geared to people living with dementia. Sometimes these living units are locked. There is no specific Memory Care license in Michigan, however there are many different schools of thought and private certifications that organizations or living centers provide. LifeCircles also offers Memory Care through our Positive Approach to Care services for people living with brain change. Our program offers coaching that can come to your home, respite care, specialized attention in our day centers, and custom health and wellness planning catered to the individual and their care partners.

MDHHS – Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is a department within the State of Michigan. It oversees health policy, management, public assistance, child and family services, and behavioral health and substance use services. MDHHS administers Michigan Long Term Care Medicaid services. Many PACE participants utilize Long Term Care Medicaid to cover the cost of the PACE program. LifeCircles PACE has a three-way agreement with CMS and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to provide PACE services. Our healthcare program is regulated by MDHHS.

Medicare Part A

Medicare Part A helps cover medically necessary inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing facility rehab stays, hospice care, lab tests, surgery and skilled home health care services. Most people 65 or older have earned Medicare part A benefits through their work history or are a dependent of someone who has earned this benefit. People who are not yet 65, but have been deemed disabled by the Social Security Administration may be eligible for Medicare Part A. For more information on Medicare plan coverage and options contact the unbiased and free Michigan Medicare Medicaid Assistance Program at – 1-800-803-7174. 

Medicare Part B

Medicare Part B helps cover medically necessary outpatient medical services that Part A doesn’t cover. It covers doctor office visits, ambulance services, durable medical equipment, outpatient care and preventative services. Unlike Medicare Part A, Medicare Part B has a monthly premium that must be paid. Most people pay this premium directly out of their Social Security checks each month. For more information on Medicare plan coverage and options contact the unbiased and free Michigan Medicare Medicaid Assistance Program at – 1-800-803-7174. 

Medicare Part C

Sometimes Medicare Advantage plans are referred to as Medicare Part C. Please see the section on MA or Medicare Advantage plans above. Before there were Medicare Advantage plans, optional Medicare Supplemental or Gap policies were sometimes called Part C plans.  For more information on Medicare plan coverage and options contact the unbiased and free Michigan Medicare Medicaid Assistance Program at – 1-800-803-7174. 

Medicare Part D or Medicare Drug Plans

These are prescription drug benefit plans for people with Medicare. They are not provided directly from Medicare. Instead, Medicare pays private insurance companies to offer this benefit. Plans range in coverage, premiums, and what pharmacies are in and out of network. For more information on Medicare plan options contact the unbiased and free Michigan Medicare Medicaid Assistance Program at – 1-800-803-7174. 

Medicaid Waiver or MI Choice Waiver

The MI Choice Waiver program is a type of Home and Community Based Service that provides Medicaid covered long term care supports in a home or residential setting. These services typically include case management by a Nurse and Social Worker. The nurse and social worker assess for and coordinate in home services that are funded by Medicaid. This program customizes services that can include private duty aids, personal care, some home modifications, adult day services, meal delivery, personal emergency response systems and more. The program was one of the first programs to give people an alternative to traditional nursing home living. This program does not cover medical services. Find out more about Waiver services in Michigan here.

Non-Skilled Home Care

This term can be misleading because it implies the caregiver lacks ability or skill. A “non-skilled” home care provider is just someone who helps someone but doesn’t provide “skilled medical services”. This could be a personal care aide from an agency, a family member, friend, or acquaintance capable of providing hands-on assistance. A lot of the time, you’ll also hear these people called caregivers, aides or private duty caregivers

Private Duty Home Care

A Private Duty Home Care agency or provider offer personal care services in the home. Usually, these services help people with activities of daily living or instrumental activities of daily living like bathing, dressing, cooking, cleaning and more. It is called private duty because it is paid for privately and is not typically covered by health insurance.

Rep Payee

This is a person who is responsible for receiving the United States Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income for an individual who is unable to manage their own benefits. Paperwork must be completed directly with Social Security to get this designation. Typically the Social Security Administration will not accept a financial power attorney, and will instead require named DPOAs to become rep payees through their process. Find out more about Rep Payee processes on Social Security’s website here.

Skilled Home Care

Skilled home care providers are licensed medical professionals who care for a patient from the comfort of their home. This usually consists of nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, social workers, and at times bath aides. This type of care has certain “home-bound” requirements.

SNF – Skilled Nursing Facility

Skilled nursing facilities are long term care facilities, many people refer to them as nursing homes or rehab facilities. Many skilled nursing facilities offer both short term rehabilitation, and long term aid and attendance care.

We hope these terms can help you feel more informed about the alphabet soup that is senior care. If you’re ever unsure of a phrase or want to learn more, reach out to our team! LifeCircles senior care experts would love to share our deep knowledge with you. Even if our program isn’t the right fit for you, we are happy to share resources that can make a difference in your life!

Last Updated on September 18, 2022