Common Medical Terms Used in Senior Living

Senior Living Abbreviations

The medical world is full of confusing terminology and abbreviations, and senior care tends to have its own lingo, too. However, by figuring out what each term means, you can feel more informed about whether the care is for you or a family member.

Here is a breakdown of common senior care terms and what they entail:

IL or Independent Living

Independent living caters to active adults above a certain age, though this age requirement varies by each independent living facility. It provides older adults the opportunity to reside in houses, condos, villas, or apartments within an age-restricted community surrounded by peers. Many IL communities also offer easy access to emergency alert systems, which is especially beneficial in the event of a fall.

AL or ALF: Assisted Living or Assisted Living Facility

An assisted living facility maintains a similar independent living environment while offering additional support as needed. An ALF serves as an ideal housing option for older adults desiring independence but requiring assistance with one or more activities of daily living.

ADLs or Activities of Daily Living

ADLs encompass basic self-care tasks such as eating, personal hygiene, dressing, mobility, and medication management. These tasks are vital for daily functioning but do not necessitate the intensive medical care provided in nursing homes. Assistance and support are available if required.

IADLs or Instrumental Activities of Daily Living

In contrast to ADLs, IADLs involve activities beyond personal care that require a higher level of cognitive function. They encompass tasks like managing finances, food prep and cooking, shopping, using communication devices, and maintaining a household.

MC or MCF: Memory Care or Memory Care Facility

A memory care facility, or MC facility, specializes in assisting individuals with memory-related impairments such as Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia. Residents receive assistance with their ADLs and IADLs and benefit from additional security measures.

SNF or Skilled Nursing Facility

A skilled nursing facility is similar to a traditional nursing home in that it provides around-the-clock help with ADLs, but it differs in that it can provide more intensive medical care. SNFs offer long-term stays and provide care for individuals who need to recover from an acute or chronic illness or injury, such as a stroke.


In senior care, a caregiver is recognized as anyone who provides seniors help with their ADLs or IADLs. A caregiver can be a nurse, certified nursing aid, senior care facility staff member, or even an older adult's family member or friend.

If you or your family member needs assistance with ADLs, consider a retirement community that offers AL or MC. For independent and active older adults, consider an IL community that encourages you or your family members to stay active, both physically and socially.

Edgemere is a senior living community that offers each of these options. Edgemere’s campus has resort-style amenities such as fine dining, social events, an indoor heated pool, a fitness center, a movie theater, a library, a community greenhouse, and an herb garden — and plenty of programming for all residents to enjoy. To learn more about the community, speak to a team member today by calling (214) 225-7990