Glossary of Terms

Definitions of some terms used in aging services:


Certified Nursing Assistants have passed a training course and exam and are registered with the state. CNAs can provide personal care services such as assistance with bathing and dressing. They do not dispense medications, though they can remind the patient to take medications if the pills have been dispensed into a pillbox by family members.


Companion/sitters provide "hands-off" services such as assistance with meal preparation, light housekeeping, shopping, running errands, laundry, and general supervision and companionship. They do not do "hands-on" services such as assisting with bathing. There is no source of public funding for companion-level services in Wake County. Companions can be hired privately, through agencies specializing in companion services, or through some home care agencies.


Cost-share refers to programs where individuals are asked to pay a certain portion of the true cost of a service, based on their income and resources. This allows limited funding to be stretched as far as possible, as each person contributes what he/she can. Cost-sharing can be mandatory or voluntary, depending on the program.


Federal- and state-funded health care coverage for low income people. Covers doctor visits, hospitalization, some home care, and more. For those who have Medicare, Medicaid pays the premiums, deductibles and copayments. To be eligible for Medicaid, you must meet strict income and asset limitations. For more information about how to apply, contact Wake County Human Services at 919-212-7541.

PCS or Personal Care Services

Medicaid funding for in-home care services is available to Medicaid recipients who need hands-on personal care such as assistance with bathing. Care is limited to approximately 60 hours a month maximum, and services cannot be provided at the same time the individual is receiving home services funded by Medicare.

Private Duty

Home care services paid for directly by the client or family, not by Medicare or Medicaid. Not all agencies provide private duty care.