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Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

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Glossary of Alzheimer's Disease Terms


Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scan: A procedure that measures blood flow in different areas of the brain.

Skilled nursing care: A level of care that includes ongoing medical or nursing services.

Special care unit: A designated area of a residential care facility or nursing home that cares specifically for the needs of people with Alzheimer's disease.

SPECT scan: See single photon emission computed tomography scan.

Spinal cord: One of the two components of the central nervous system. The spinal cord is the main relay for signals between the brain and the rest of the body.

Stages: The course of disease progression defined by levels or periods of severity: early, mild, moderate, moderately severe, severe.

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

Support group: A facilitated gathering of patients, caregivers, family, friends, or others affected by a disease or condition for the purpose of discussing issues related to the disease.

Suspiciousness: A mistrust common in Alzheimer patients as their memory becomes progressively worse. An example is when patients believe their belongings have been stolen because they forgot where they left them.

Synapse: The junction where a signal is transmitted from one nerve cell to another, usually by a neurotransmitter.

Tangles: See neurofibrillary tangles.

Tissue: A group of similar cells that act together in the performance of a particular function.

Toxin: A substance that can cause illness, injury, or death. Toxins are produced by living organisms.

Trigger: An environmental or personal stimulus that sets off a particular behavior.

Trustee: The individual or financial institution managing the assets of a living trust.

Urinalysis: A test in which a urine sample is evaluated to detect abnormalities.

Vitamins: Various substances found in plants and animals that are required for life-sustaining processes.

Wandering: A common behavior that causes people with dementia to stray and become lost in familiar surroundings.

Will: A legal document created by an individual that names an executor (the person who will manage the estate) and beneficiaries (persons who will receive the estate at the time of the individual's death).

X-ray: High-energy radiation used in low doses to create images of the body to help diagnose diseases and determine the extent of injuries.

Zinc: A mineral that is essential for proper nutrition.


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on March 29, 2014

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