Glossary of Alzheimer’s & Related Terms

BG High Point Jack RobinsonActivities of Daily Living (ADLs)
Personal care activities necessary for everyday living, such as eating, bathing, grooming, dressing and using the toilet.

Adult Day Services
Programs that provide participants with opportunities to interact with others, usually in a community center or dedicated facility.

Advance Directive (also called as a living will)
A document written when in “good” health that informs your family and health care providers of your wishes for extended medical treatment in times of emergency.

Alzheimer’s Disease
A progressive and fatal disease in which nerve cells in the brain degenerate and brain matter shrinks, resulting in impaired thinking, behavior and memory.

Antidepressants
Medications used to treat depression. Antidepressants are not addictive; they do not make you “high,” have a tranquilizing effect or produce a craving for more. They can cause drowsiness and other side effects.

Anxiety
A feeling of apprehension, fear, nervousness or dread accompanied by restlessness or tension.

Apathy
Lack of interest, concern or emotion.

Aphasia
Difficulty understanding the speech of others and/or expressing oneself verbally.

Case Management
A term used to describe formal services planned by care professionals.

Dementia
The loss of mental functions, such as thinking, memory and reasoning, severe enough to interfere with a person’s daily functioning. Dementia is not a disease itself, but rather a group of symptoms that may accompany certain disease or conditions. Symptoms also may include changes in personality, mood and behavior. Dementia is irreversible when caused by disease or injury, but may be reversible when caused by drugs, alcohol, hormone or vitamin imbalances, or depression. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia.

Depression
A clinical mood disorder that prevents a person from leading a normal life. Types of depression include: major depression, bipolar depression, chronic low-grade depression (dysthymia) and seasonal depression (seasonal-affective disorder or SAD).

Early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease
An unusual form of Alzheimer’s disease in which individuals are diagnosed before age 65. Less than 10 percent of all Alzheimer’s disease patients have early-onset. Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease sometimes is associated with mutations in genes located on chromosomes 1, 14 and 21.

Guardian
An individual appointed by the courts who is authorized to make legal and financial decisions for another person.

Hallucination
A sensory experience in which a person can see, hear, smell, taste or feel something that is not there.

Incontinence
Loss of bladder and/or bowel control.

Pacing
Aimless wandering or walking back and forth, often triggered by an internal stimulus, such as pain, hunger or boredom, or by some distraction in the environment such as noise, odor or temperature.

Paranoia
Suspicion of others that is not based on fact.

Parkinson’s Disease
A progressive, neurodegenerative disease with an unknown cause characterized by the death of nerve cells in a specific area of the brain. People with Parkinson’s disease lack the neurotransmitter dopamine and have symptoms such as tremors, speech impediments, movement difficulties and often dementia later in the course of the disease.

Sundowning
Unsettled behavior evident in the late afternoon or early evening.