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Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

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Glossary of Alzheimer's Disease Terms


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

Sundowning: Unsettled behavior that happens in the late afternoon or early evening. Many people with Alzheimer’s have this. They may become more upset or anxious. Doctors don’t know exactly why fading light seems to have this effect.

Support group: A group of patients, caregivers, family, friends, or others who meet with a facilitator to talk about their experiences, challenges, solutions, and emotions. 

Suspiciousness: Mistrust. Many people with Alzheimer’s feel this way as their memory worsens. For instance, they may think their belongings have been stolen because they forgot where they left them or question someone’s motives if they can’t remember who they are.

Tau: A protein that’s naturally in the structure of nerve cells. Abnormal tau can be in the “tangles” of plaque in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.

Trigger: Something that that sets off a particular behavior.

Trustee: The person or financial institution appointed to manage the assets of a living trust.

Urinalysis: A lab test that uses a sample of someone’s urine.

Wandering: Straying from home or the place where they are supposed to be. 

Will: A legal document in which someone says how they want their estate handled after they die. It also appoints an “executor,” who manages the estate.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on December 17, 2015
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