Glossary of Key Terms

Glossary of terms Definition
Age-friendly cities and communities a city or community that fosters Healthy and Active Ageing.
Age-friendly environments environments (such as in the home or community) that foster Healthy and Active Ageing by building and maintaining intrinsic capacity across the life course and enabling greater functional ability in someone with a given level of capacity.
Ageism stereotyping and discrimination against individuals or groups on the basis of their age; ageism can take many forms, including prejudicial attitudes, discriminatory practices, or institutional policies and practices that perpetuate stereotypical beliefs.
Assistive technologies (or assistive health technology) any device designed, made or adapted to help a person perform a particular task; products may be generally available or specially designed for people with specific losses of capacity; assistive technologies, the primary purpose of which is to maintain or improve an individual’s functioning and well-being.
Caregiver a person who provides care and support to someone else; such support may include:
  • helping with self-care, household tasks, mobility, social participation and meaningful activities;
  • offering information, advice and emotional support, as well as engaging in advocacy, providing support for decision-making and peer support, and helping with advance care planning;
  • offering respite services; and
  • engaging in activities to foster intrinsic capacity
Caregivers may include family members, friends, neighbours, volunteers, care workers and health professionals.
Case management a collaborative process of planning services to meet an individual’s health needs through communication with the individual and their service providers and coordination of resources.
Comprehensive geriatric assessment a multidimensional assessment of an older person that includes medical, physical, cognitive, social and spiritual components; may also include the use of standardized assessment instruments and an interdisciplinary team to support the process.
Elder abuse a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust that causes harm or distress to an older person.
Functional ability the health-related attributes that enable people to be and to do what they have reason to value; it is made up of the intrinsic capacity of the individual, relevant environmental characteristics and the interactions between the individual and these characteristics.
Geriatrics the branch of medicine specializing in the heath and illness of older age and their appropriate care and services.
Gerontology the study of the social, psychological and biological aspects of ageing.
Health literacy the capacity if individuals, families and communities to access, understand, appraise and apply health information in order to make judgements and take decisions in everyday life concerning health care, disease prevention and health promotion to maintain or improve their quality of life.
Healthy Ageing the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables well-being in older age.
Informal care unpaid care provided by a family member, friend, neighbor or volunteer.
Institutional care setting refers to institutions in which long-term care is provided; these may include community centres, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, hospitals and other health facilities; institutional care settings are not defined only by their size.
Life-course approach this considers the underlying biological, behavioural and psychosocial processes that operate across the life course, which are shaped by individual characteristics and by the environments in which we live.
Long-term care the activities undertaken by others to ensure that people with a significant ongoing loss of intrinsic capacity can maintain a level of functional ability consistent with their basic rights, fundamental freedoms and human dignity.
Participation a person’s involvement in a life situation; it represents the societal perspective of functioning.
Self-care (or self-management) activities carried out by individuals to promote, maintain, treat and care for themselves, as well as to engage in making decisions about their health.
Social care (services) assistance with the activities of daily living (such as personal care, maintaining the home).

Source: WHO (2015). Global report on ageing and health, Geneva.