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    Glossary of Alzheimer's Disease Terms

    Your loved one’s doctors and other health care professionals may use some of these terms when they talk with you. Some are related to Alzheimer’s. Others are about legal documents that can help you manage the care they get. Scan through this A-Z list of terms so you are familiar with what’s discussed.

    Activities of daily living (ADL): Everyday tasks such as eating, bathing, grooming, dressing, and going to the bathroom.

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    Adult day services: Programs that give people with Alzheimer’s a safe place to spend time with others, usually in a community center or dedicated facility. They don’t stay there overnight.

    Advance directive: A legal document that states your wishes about how much medical care you would want in the case of an emergency. You may hear these called a “living will” or “a power of attorney” for health care.

    Adverse reaction: A side effect.

    Complementary therapies: The use of techniques other than drugs, surgery, or other routine medical care. You may also hear it called “alternative” medicine.

    Amyloid: A protein that’s found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. It builds up into a “plaque” or “tangles.”

    Apathy: Lack of interest, concern, or emotion.

    Aphasia: Trouble understanding what people are saying or speaking. 

    ApoE: A gene that can have different changes in it. The “ApoE 4” mutation in this gene is linked to a greater chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease. But other genes are probably also involved. There is probably not just one “Alzheimer’s gene.”

    Art therapy: A form of therapy that allows people with dementia to express their feelings through art.

    Assessment: An evaluation, usually done by a doctor, of a person's mental, emotional, and social skills.

    Assisted living facility: A residential care setting that combines housing, support services, and health care for people in the early or middle stages of a disabling disease, such as Alzheimer's disease.

    Autonomy: A person's ability to make their own choices.

    Behavioral neurologist: A doctor who specializes in behavioral and memory disorders caused by brain disease.

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