Glossary of Terms

ADLs – Activities of Daily Living which include bathing, hygiene, eating, dressing and mobility. 

Alzheimer’s Disease – AD is the most common form of dementia.  It is terminal and there is no cure. It is a slow developing disease that may last between 8-20 years.  It robs a person of his/her short term memory and the ability to carry out daily routines.  It affects a patient’s short term memory, judgment and reasoning.

Assisted Living Community (AL) – A community that provides a home like setting for individuals who are unable to live alone or choose to live where meals, housekeeping and nursing services are available.

Advance Directive — It is a legal document that indicates an individual’s medical wishes at the end his/her life.

BIMS (Brief Interview for Mental Status) – Generally used in nursing homes to determine cognitive ability.  Score from 0 (lowest) to 15 (highest).

CT Scan (Computed Tomography) – A series of X-rays that show various angles and depths of the brain.

Caregiver – An individual, usually a family member, friend or professional, who cares for an individual on a part time or full time basis.

Care Plan – A plan developed by a home health agency, assisted living community or nursing home that indicates what specific care will be given to the patient to meet that person’s needs.

Conservator – Person given legal authority by a judge to handle another person’s finances, health care and/or living arrangements.

Causes of Dementia – The following things may cause irreversible damage and therefore dementia:  head trauma, strokes, genetics, chronic alcoholism, brain tumor. ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­See FAQ’?

DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) – No measures will be taken to extend a person’s life by administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation(CPR).

Elder Law Attorney – A lawyer who specializes in working with/for the elderly.

ElopementWhen a patient leaves home alone on foot, by public transportation or by car without a caregiver’s knowledge.

Family History – Written medical history of family members (3 generations).

Fiblet – Telling a “little white lie” in order to support a dementia patient and keep them in their “comfort zone.”

Five Wishes – A legal document, similar to a will, that clarifies a person’s wishes just prior to death.  Ex.:  playing music, not touching patient, visitors or no visitors, etc.

Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) – This used to be referred to as Pick’s disease.  FTD affects the portion of the brain that is located behind the forehead and the ears.  Approximately 10-15% of all dementia patients have FTD.  Patients’ behavior, speech and involuntary movement are affected and there are several variants within each of the three categories.

Full Code – Everything will be done, including CPR, feeding tubes, oxygen, etc., to try to save a person’s life.

Hospice – Hospice is an organization that provides palliative and end of life care for individuals with terminal conditions. This care may take place in the home, nursing home, assisted living or an in-house Hospice setting.

Legal Guardian – Person given legal authority to manage another person’s health, finances and  property.

Lewy Body Dementia (Dementia with Lewy Bodies) – This form of dementia affects patients ability to think, reason and function independently.  It is the third most common form of dementia and may be related to Parkinson’s disease. They may experience hallucinations and have difficulty sleeping.

Living in the Moment – A moment in time or an experience when the dementia patient enjoys that experience or has a moment of lucidity.

Living Will – It is a legal document that clarifies what treatment or life-sustaining measures an individual wants at the end-of-life or when the individual is permanently unable to make his/her own decisions.

Lucid – When a dementia patient is having a moment in time when his/her memory, thinking and speech are clear and in sync with those around them.

Memory Care Program – Located within an assisted living community specifically for individuals with some form of dementia.  Program is a secured facility, with 24 hour care in a home like setting.

MMSE  (Mini-Mental State Exam) – A cognitive test, with a score ranging from 0 (lowest) to 30 (highest), that indicates a person’s cognitive ability.

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) – A test that uses magnetic imaging and radio waves to create pictures of the brain that are more detailed than a CT scan.

Mixed Dementia – This form of dementia is a combination of more than one type of dementia.  The patient might have Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and/or Lewy body dementia.

POA for Finance – Individual given legal authority to handle another person’s financial affairs, at the person’s request.

POA for Health – Individual given legal authority to make health care decisions for another person, at that person’s request.

PRN (As Needed) – Usually refers to the administration of medications.

Palliative Care – Palliative care focuses on providing a pain free environment for chronically ill patients, and this is generally associated with Hospice. A patient may have CHF, COPD, debilitating arthritis, MS, etc.

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) – PD is the deterioration of the central nervous system.  In the later stages of the disease, dementia is prevalent in more than 60% of patients, affecting their thinking skills, movement and behaviors.

Positive Reinforcement – Using words that relate positive thoughts, directions or statements.

Plaques -Protein material that builds up between the nerve cells preventing “messages” from being transmitted from the brain to other parts of the body.

Private Pay – An individual or family member is responsible for the total expenses in a facility.

Reversible Dementia – Signs of dementia, which are temporary, due to such things as:  malnutrition, dehydration, Vitamin B12 deficiency, metabolic imbalances of the kidneys, liver or thyroid, cross medication and/or over-medication.

Senile Dementia – This is an outdated term that was used a number of years ago. Currently there has been sufficient research done to isolate the types of dementias that exist.

Tangles – Protein material that builds up within nerve cells and causes them to die.

Terminal – An individual whose medical condition has advanced to a point that the disease will cause the death of the individual.

Therapeutic Fiblets – Fiblets are what some people call “little white lies.”  They are  conversations or phrases that non-dementia people use to be able to communicate with those with dementia. Example:  89 year old patient whose mother died 20 years ago – “I want to call my mother.”  Response:  “I think your Mom is grocery shopping this morning, but we can call her after lunch.”

Types of Dementia –  Alzheimer’s Disease, Frontotemporal Dementia, Vascular Dementia, Dementia with Lewy Bodies, Mixed Dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, Early On-set or Younger On-set Alzheimer’s,  Huntington’s Disease, MBI (Mild Behavioral Impairment), MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment), TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, Down Syndrome and Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease.

Wandering – The need for an individual to walk aimlessly within a safe environment.

Wandering (External) – Walking aimlessly out-of-doors, unsupervised, under precarious (unsafe) conditions… also know as elopement.

Vascular Dementia – The second most common form of dementia, this occurs fairly quickly when the flow of blood to the brain has been interrupted by such happenings as a stroke, head trauma, an aneurysm or a brain tumor.



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