Dementia Expert

Glossary of Terms


When you become a caregiver for a person with dementia, you find that you have to change the way you organize your life. You also find you need to learn a whole new language.
 
The medical words and terms that physicians use can be hard for anyone to understand. Whether they are discussing diseases, conditions, treatments or programs – or just talking about what is happening to your parent and what you can expect – the language they use is technical and difficult.
 
We have brought together here many of the terms that are most commonly used in the diagnosis, treatment and management of dementia and its associated illnesses and symptoms. Use the simple A to Z format to look up any word or phrase.

 

 
A B C D E F G H I L M N O P R S T V
 
Term
Explanation
A.D.C. OR AIDS dementia complex A metabolic encephalopathy induced by HIV infection. The body’s macrophages (disease fighting) cells that are actively infected with HIV secrete neurotoxins (substances that affect brain cells causing them to become dysfunctional and die).
A.L.S. or Lou Gehrig's disease Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (abbreviated ALS, also referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease) is a form of motor neuron disease. ALS is a progressive, fatal, neurodegenerative disease caused by the degeneration of motor neurons, the nerve cells in the central nervous system that control voluntary muscle movement. The condition is often called Lou Gehrig's disease in North America, after the famous New York Yankees baseball player who was diagnosed with the disease in 1939.
agnosia The inability of a patient to identify an object or person using one or more of their senses.
agrammatism A form of expressive aphasia that refers to the inability to speak in a grammatically correct fashion. People with agrammatism may have telegraphic speech, a unique speech pattern with simplified formation of sentences (in which many or all function words are omitted), akin to that found in telegraph messages. Seen in many brain disease syndromes, including Broca's aphasia and traumatic brain injury.
akathisia a syndrome characterized by unpleasant sensations of restlessness that manifests itself with an inability to sit still or remain motionless (hence the word's origin in Ancient Greek: from a kathízein with a privative a as prefix expressing negation or absence; literally meaning inability to sit). It can be a side effect of medications.
akinesia The patient's inability to initiate movement due to difficulty selecting and/or activating the motor programs in their central nervous system.
Alzheimer's disease Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, ultimately fatal, disorder in which certain types of nerve cells in particular areas of the brain degenerate and die for unknown reasons.
amnesia A patient's partial/total inability to recall past experiences, people, facts or events. It can involve recent or distant memories.
amyloid beta inhibitor A research trial medication used to stop the amyloid part of neuron proteins from detaching. Drugs such as bapineuzumab (an antibody in Phase III trials for patients in the mild to moderate stage of AZ); semagacestat (a ?-secretase inhibitor); MPC-7869, and acc-001 (a vaccine developed for amyloid beta in Phase II trials, to be used in the mild stage of AZ).
anomia Anomic aphasia (anomia) is a type of aphasia characterized by the patient having problems recalling words or names
anticholinergic An anticholinergic agent is a substance that blocks the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the central and the peripheral nervous system
anticipatory grief Is the deep emotional distress that occurs when someone has a serious progressive disorder (like ADRD) and death is expected by the patient, as well as the caregiver and family.
anxiety In a fully cognizant person is characterized by excessive, exaggerated concern and worry about everyday life events, even if reasons are not obvious to anyone but the person. In a child/adult with chronic disorders, anxiety is known to be present but may not have an immediate focus – it may be involved with their diagnosis & its chronic manifestations.
aphasia A patient language dysfunction of impaired comprehension and/or expression of words and/or nonverbal equivalents of words.
apraxia A patient's inability to perform purposeful, previously learned motor tasks despite their physical ability and willingness. Apraxia of speech (verbal apraxia) is difficulty initiating and executing voluntary movement patterns necessary to produce speech when there is no paralysis or weakness of speech muscles.
atherosclerosis A condition in which an artery wall thickens as the result of a build-up of fatty materials such as cholesterol
autonomy refers to the capacity of a rational & competent individual to make an informed, un-coerced decision.
axon The part of a neuron cell that serves as a transport system using microtubules, electrical & chemical impulses.
beneficence actions that promote the wellbeing of others.
Beta amyloid protein Are the free segments of the Amyloid Precursor Protein found in the neuron cell body. They stick together and form plaques (clumps) in the brain which cause neurons to loose function and die.
biomarker In medicine, a biomarker is a term often used to refer to a protein measured in blood whose concentration reflects the severity or presence of some disease state. Biomarkers are characteristic biological properties that can be detected and measured in parts of the body like the blood, cerebrospinal fluid or tissue.
biopsy a medical test involving the removal of cells or tissues for examination. It is the medical removal of tissue from a living subject to determine the presence or extent of a disease.
bradykinesia refers to decreased bodily movement. It is associated with basal ganglia diseases (such as Parkinson's disease), mental health disorders and prolonged inactivity due to illness, amongst other diseases.
C.A.T. scan Computerized Axial Tomography. An xray procedure that combines many sray images with the aid of a computer to generate cross-sectional views and, if needed, three-dimensional images of the internal organs and the structures of the body.
Cadasil Syndrome A form of Vascular Dementia that is thought to be genetic due to a mutation of the Notch 3 gene in the human genome.
Care Trak A battery operated personal transmitter for wrist/ankle that is set to a specific radio frequency. Once notified, law enforcement will attempt to locate the missing person using a mobile locator device set to that frequency. The Care Trak Perimeter system establishes an invisible boundary around the home of the patient. It will sound an alarm if the patient, wearing a transmitter, passes through the boundary.
central nerve system Consists of the structures of the brain and spinal cord. The functioning cells are called neurons.
cerebrospinal fluid Liquor cerebrospinalis, is a clear, colorless bodily fluid, that occupies the subarachnoid space and the ventricular system around and inside the brain and spinal cord. In essence, the brain in it.
circumlocutions Speaking in a roundabout way in order to express a certain word that is unable to be remembered.
coercion Is the practice of forcing another party to behave in an involuntary manner (whether through action or inaction) by use of threats, rewards, or intimidation or some other form of pressure or force. Such actions are used as leverage, to force the victim to act in the desired way. Coercion may involve the actual infliction of physical pain/injury or psychological harm in order to enhance the credibility of a threat. The threat of further harm may lead to the cooperation or obedience of the person being coerced. Torture is one of the most extreme examples of coercion i.e. severe pain is inflicted until the victim provides the desired information
cognitive function refers to a persons ability to process information, apply knowledge, and change preferences. Cognition, or cognitive processes, can be conscious or unconscious.
competence (law) the mental capacity of an individual to participate in legal proceedings; being able to understand the risks & benefits of the action being discussed.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease CJD belongs to a family of human and animal diseases known as the transmissible spongiform encephalopathy's (TSEs). Spongiform refers to the characteristic appearance of infected brains, which become filled with holes until they resemble sponges under a microscope. CJD is an infection and the most common of the known human TSEs.
dehydration defined as an excessive loss of body fluid
dementia is the decline of two or more of a persons cognitive functions of sufficient severity to interfere with a person’s daily living activities. It is not a part of normal aging, not a disease and not a diagnosis but a group of symptoms that is caused by something in the body that is not normal.
depression Described as feeling sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps. Most of us feel this way at one time or another for short periods. True clinical depression is a mood disordeer in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for a long period of time.
diabetes a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar, either because the body does not produce enough insulin, or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced
diazoxide A potassium channel activator, which causes local relaxation in smooth muscle by increasing membrane permeability to potassium ions. This switches off voltage-gated calcium ion channels which inhibits the generation of an action potential. Research is being conducted on applications suitable for Alzheimer's disease.
DNR A document stating your choice of being resuscitated or not if you should have a cardiac or respiratory arrest.
dysphagia A medical term used generally for difficulty swallowing. Stroke, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and other disorders can cause dysphagia.
echolalia Repeating what others say; may be repeated once or many times.
echolalia Repeating what others say; may be repeated once or many times.
electrocardiogram An interpretation of the electrical activity of the heart over time captured on special graph paper or a heart monitor, and externally recorded by skin electrodes.
electroencephalogram P300 A specific electrical signal of the brain waves of an EEG recording; typically measured most strongly by the electrodes covering the parietal lobe. The presence, magnitude, topography and timing of this signal are often used as metrics of cognitive function in decision making processes.
electrolytes Are vital in maintaining homeostasis within the body. They help to regulate myocardial and neurological function, fluid balance, oxygen delivery, acid-base balance and much more.
EmFinders A company that uses cell phone technology to locate persons wearing their devices. Most often used for dementia disorder patients who could become separated from their caregivers and become lost.
endocrine system A system of glands, each of which secretes a type of hormone directly into the bloodstream to regulate the body; an information signal system like the nervous system; Hormones are substances (chemical mediators) released from endocrine tissue into the bloodstream where they travel to target tissue and generate a response. Hormones regulate various human functions, including Metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, and mood.
episodic memory memory of autobiographical events-times, places, associated emotions, and other contextual knowledge- that can be explicitly stated.
ethics a branch of philosophy, in a society, that addresses concepts such as good & evil; right & wrong; virtue vs. vice; justice, etc.
extrapyramidal symptoms Extrapyramidal symptoms (EPS) are various movement disorders such as acute dystonic reactions, pseudoparkinsonism, or akathisia suffered as a result of taking dopamine antagonists, usually antipsychotic (neuroleptic) drugs, which are often used to control psychosis.
F.T.D. or Frontotemporal dementia A clinical syndrome caused by degeneration of the frontal lobe of the brain and may extend back to the temporal lobe; the tau protein is often involved. It is one of three syndromes caused by frontotemporal lobar degeneration, and the second most common early-onset dementia after Alzheimer's disease
Five Wishes A national (USA) advance directive created by the non-profit organization Aging with Dignity. Described as the living will with a heart and soul'. Components: Person to make decisions; Kind of medical treatment wanted/not wanted; Comfort requirements; Treatment by others; What loved ones should know.
Folic acid Also known as vitamin B9; folic acid is essential to the body to produce healthy red blood cells and prevent anemia; lack of folic acid leads to many symptoms including mental confusion, forgetfulness, cognitive decline, and mental depression. Research is being conducted on applications suitable for ADRD.
freezing movement Is characterized by an inability to move muscles in any desired direction.
glucose A simple sugar (monosaccharide) and an important carbohydrate in biology. Cells use it as a source of energy and a metabolic intermediate. Glucose is one of the main products of photosynthesis and starts cellular respiration.
haptoglobin A protein that in humans is encoded by the HP gene. Mutations in this gene and/or its regulatory regions cause ahaptoglobinemia or hypohaptoglobinemia. This gene has also been linked to diabetic nephropathy, the incidence of coronary artery disease in type 1 diabetes,[6] Crohn's disease,[7] inflammatory disease behavior, cholangitis, susceptibility to idiopathic Parkinson's disease.
Healthcare Proxy a legal document that designates a pre-selected person to make medical decisions for another, after the designator becomes incapacitated. May be combined with a Living Will.
Healthcare Surrogate Same as a Healthcare Proxy.
Homocystine detection of high levels of homocysteine has been linked to cardiovascular disease. Research is being conducted on applications suitable for Alzheimer's disease.
hormone Hormones are substances (chemical mediators) released from endocrine tissue into the bloodstream where they travel to target tissue and generate a response. Hormones regulate various human functions, including Metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, and mood.
Huntington's disease An inherited progressive form of dementia in which personality, memory and moods change as the disease advances.
Hydrocephalus is a buildup of fluid inside the skull, leading to brain swelling; water on the brain
inflammation a protective attempt by the body to remove the injurious stimuli and to initiate the healing process.
insulin resistance a physiological condition where the natural hormone, insulin, becomes less effective at lowering blood sugars. The resulting increase in blood glucose may raise levels outside the normal range and cause adverse health effects, depending on dietary conditions
Intravenous Immunoglobulin is a blood product administered intravenously. It contains the pooled IgG (immunoglobulin (antibody) G) extracted from the plasma of over one thousand blood donors. Research is being conducted on applications suitable for Alzheimer's disease.
IVIg A blood product administered intravenously. It contains the pooled IgG (immunoglobulin antibody G) extracted from the plasma of over one thousand blood donors. Research is being conducted on applications suitable for Alzheimer's disease.
legal age in Florida, is 18 years old; unless otherwise ruled by the legal system for an individual.
Lewy Body disease DLB often has a rapid or acute onset, with especially rapid decline in the first few months. DLB tends to progress more quickly than Alzheimer’s disease. It is characterized anatomically by the presence of Lewy bodies, clumps of alpha-synuclein and ubiquitin protein in neurons, detectable in post-mortem brain biopsies
M.R.I. scan Magnetic Resonance Imaging. A radiology technique that uses magnetism, radio waves, and a computer to produce images of body structures.
malnutrition condition that results from taking an unbalanced diet in which certain nutrients are lacking, in excess (too high an intake), or in the wrong proportions.[
Medical Power of Attorney Functions to designate someone to make all medical decisions for a person after they become incapacitated when there is no Living Will. It is assumed that the incapacitated person has given verbal instructions for their care, or trusts the independent decisions the Medical Power of Attorney would make.
mitigation The idea that a person who has suffered loss has to take reasonable action to minimize the amount of the loss suffered.
neurotoxin substances that affect brain cells causing them to become dysfunctional and die.
non-communicative unable to make needs & desires known using speech; silent.
non-responsive unable to demonstrate a response to any sensory stimuli, including pain.
Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus A chronic type of communicating hydrocephalus whereby the increase in intracranial pressure (ICP) due to accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) becomes stable and that the formation of CSF equilibrates with absorption.
orthostatic hypotension also known as postural hypotension,[1] orthostasis, and colloquially as head rush or a dizzy spell, is a form of hypotension in which a person's blood pressure suddenly falls when the person stands up or stretches.
P.E.T. scan Positron Emission Tomography. A highly specialized imaging technique that uses short-lived radioactive substances to produce three-dimensional colored images of those radiotracers functioning within the body.
palliative care a specialized area of healthcare that focuses on relieving and preventing the suffering of patients. Unlike hospice care, palliative medicine is appropriate for patients in all disease stages, including those undergoing treatment for curable illnesses and those living with chronic diseases, as well as patients who are nearing the end of life. Palliative medicine utilizes a multidisciplinary approach to patient care, relying on input from physicians, nurses, chaplains, social workers, psychologists, and other allied health professionals in formulating a plan of care to relieve suffering in all areas of a patient's life.
paraphasia Paraphasia is a feature of aphasia in which one loses the ability of speaking correctly, substitutes one word for another, and changes words and sentences in an inappropriate way. It often develops after a stroke or brain injury. The patient's speech is fluent but is error-prone, e.g. treen' instead of train'.
Parkinson's disease Parkinson’s disease is a progressive degenerative disorder of the central nervous system belonging to a group of conditions called motor system disorders, which are the result of the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. The four primary symptoms of PD are tremor, or trembling in hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face; rigidity, or stiffness of the limbs and trunk; bradykinesia, or slowness of movement; and postural instability, or impaired balance and coordination.
Peripheral nerve system Consists of the nerve structures outside the central nerve system. The functioning cells are called nerves.
physiology how a normal organ/structure/cell actually works in the body.
postural instability Is the loss of ability to maintain an upright posture
prodromal a prodrome is an early symptom (or set of symptoms) that might indicate the start of a disease before specific symptoms occur.
Project Lifesaver A battery-operated personal transmitter for wrist/ankle that emits an individualized radio tracking signal. Upon notification, Project Lifesaver agency personnel respond to the area in which the person was last seen; using special equipment they try to locate the signal being sent by the radio transmitter on the patient to find them. They also have detailed patient information stored on a secure database which can be used by local emergency personnel.
radiotracer In medicine, a biomarker is a term often used to refer to a protein measured in blood whose concentration reflects the severity or presence of some disease state. Biomarkers are characteristic biological properties that can be detected and measured in parts of the body like the blood, cerebrospinal fluid or tissue.
reminiscence The act of helping a person recall events, people and places, that occurred in their lives.
respite Literally means relief'.
rigidity of movement Rigidity results when there is an increase in muscle tone that causes resistance to passive movement throughout the whole range of motion. There are different types of rigidity.
sedation Sedation is the reduction of irritability or agitation by administration of sedative drugs, generally to facilitate a medical procedure or diagnostic procedure.
sedative is a substance that induces sedation by reducing irritability or excitement. Doses of sedatives such as benzodiazepines when used as a hypnotic to induce sleep tend to be higher than those used to relieve anxiety whereas only low doses are needed to provide calming sedative effects
Selegiline or Eldepryl A drug used for the treatment of early-stage Parkinson's disease, depression and senile dementia. In normal clinical doses it is a selective irreversible MAO-B inhibitor.
Sildenafil A drug used to treat erectile dysfunction and pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). It was developed and is being marketed by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. It acts by inhibiting cGMP-specific phosphodiesterase type 5, an enzyme that regulates blood flow in the penis. Research is being conducted on applications suitable for Alzheimer's disease.
statins Are a class of drug used to lower cholesterol levels by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, which plays a central role in the production of cholesterol in the liver. Increased cholesterol levels have been associated with cardiovascular diseases. Research is being conducted on applications suitable for Alzheimer's disease.
stress refers to the consequence of the failure of an organism – human or animal – to respond adequately to mental, emotional or physical demands, whether actual or imagined.
stutter Also known as stammering, is a speech disorder in which the flow of speech is disrupted by involuntary repetitions and prolongations of sounds, syllables, words or phrases, and involuntary silent pauses or blocks in which the stutterer is unable to produce sounds
synapse The space between one neuron's impulse transmission parts and another neuron's impulse transmission parts.
syncope is the medical term for fainting, a sudden, usually temporary, loss of consciousness generally caused by insufficient oxygen in the brain either through cerebral hypoxia or through hypotension, but possibly for other reasons.
Tau proteins The microtubules of a neuron are made up of tiny particles that have microscopic, fiber-like projections that seem to hold all the other particles together in the shape of the tube. These tiny fiber-like projections are called Tau proteins. They break loose and cause the microtubules to disintegrate which causes the cell to dysfunction and die.
thrombin Thrombin converts soluble fibrinogen into insoluble strands of fibrin, as well as catalyzing many other coagulation-related reactions. Blood tests analyze the clotting ability of the blood.
toileting In health care, toileting ais the act of assisting a dependent patient with his/her elimination needs (bowel and bladder).
transference When personal grief/loss issues affect the workplace.
transport protein A membrane protein involved in the movement of ions, small molecules, or macromolecules, such as another protein across a biological membrane.
Vascular Dementia Dementia symptoms caused by a sudden localized interruption of cerebral blood flow that causes brain cells to dysfunction and/or die.
Vitamin E or alpha-tocopherol A group of fat-soluble compounds that include both tocopherols and tocotrienols. It is a fat-soluble antioxidant that stops the production of reactive oxygen species formed when fat undergoes oxidation. Research is being conducted on applications suitable for Alzheimer’s disease.

 

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