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Glossary of Terms Related to Paying for Senior Care

You may have more resources than you think to help you pay for senior care, although it can take some time and research to decide on the best options for your situation. This list of terms is designed to make it easier to evaluate your choices and to help you know what to expect from your benefit, loan, and insurance options.

Bridge loan

A loan typically available to homeowners between the time they decide to sell their home and the actual sale of the house. Some companies offer bridge loans to seniors who need to move to a nursing home or assisted living center before they can complete the sale of their home.

Life insurance

A possible source of funds to help pay for senior care, depending on your policy and situation. You may be able to borrow against the cash value of your policy or arrange a cash surrender that pays you the total cash value (minus fees) in exchange for you giving up the policy’s death benefit.

Long-term care insurance

Private, employer-sponsored, or group-sponsored insurance that covers nursing home care and home health care costs not covered by Medicare or employer-provided health insurance.


The federal health insurance program for low-income seniors, families, and children. Medicaid eligibility and coverage details vary by state. Medicaid does cover long-term care at home and in nursing homes for eligible seniors who qualify for those services.


The federal health insurance program for Americans age 65 and older. Medicare has four parts (A, B, C, and D) that cover hospital and skilled nursing care, doctor and outpatient services, prescription drugs, or comprehensive coverage. Medicare does not cover the cost of long-term nursing-home care.

National Council on Aging (NCOA)

A non-profit national group that provides resources and advocacy for seniors, including the Benefits Checkup tool for seniors who need financial assistance.

Prescription drug assistance program

A non-profit, state, or drug-company run program that helps defray the cost of medication for patients in need. Also known as patient assistance programs and pharmaceutical assistance programs.

Property tax relief

Options to reduce the property taxes you pay each year on your home. Property tax relief options vary depending on where you live, but exemptions are often available for homeowners, taxpayers over age 65, surviving spouses over 55 or a similar age, disabled homeowners, and disabled veterans.

Reverse mortgage

A financial product that lets homeowners borrow money against the equity in their home, with repayment of the loan due when the home is sold or the homeowner dies.

Social security retirement benefits

Monthly benefit payments based on the amount of Social Security taxes you’ve paid in during your working years. The amount you receive is also based on the age at which you first apply for benefits, with early applicants receiving less than those who wait longer.

Veterans Aid and Attendance Special Pension

The veterans Aid and Attendance pension is an additional monthly benefit paid to eligible US military veterans and spouses who must have help with tasks of daily living, require nursing home care, or have certain disabilities.

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