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Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

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Glossary of Alzheimer's Disease Terms

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Prognosis: The probable outcome or course of a disease; the chance of recovery.

Progressive disorder: A disorder that gets worse over time.

Pseudodementia: A severe form of depression resulting from a progressive brain disorder in which cognitive changes mimic those of dementia.

Psychiatrists: Medical doctors (MD or DO) who specialize in treating mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders. They can prescribe medications in addition to performing psychotherapy.

Psychologists: Psychologists (PhD or PsyD) are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medication, but they do perform evaluations and use psychotherapy. They usually have advanced degrees and receive additional training to work with patients. They are also referred to as clinical psychologists.

Psychosis: A general term for a state of mind in which thinking becomes irrational and/or disturbed. Psychosis refers primarily to delusions, hallucinations, and other severe thought disturbances.

Psychotherapy: Talking therapies used to treat a variety of psychiatric and emotional conditions. Psychotherapy can be combined with drug therapy.

Quality of care: A term used to describe care and services that allow the recipients to attain and maintain their highest level of mental, physical, and psychological function in a dignified and caring way.

Reassurance: Encouragement intended to relieve tension, fear, and confusion that can result from dementia.

Receptor: A site on a nerve cell that receives a specific neurotransmitter; the message receiver.

Rehabilitation: The ability to function in a normal or near-normal manner after disease or injury; the use of various therapies to help improve a person's level of function.

Reinforcement: The use of praise, repetition, and stimulation of the senses to preserve a person's memory, capabilities, and level of self-assurance.

Related disorders: Conditions that are similar in nature to the main condition but occur for a different reason.

Repetitive behavior: Repeated questions, stories, and outbursts or specific activities repeated over and over again, common in people with dementia.

Respite: A short break or time away.

Respite care: Services that provide people with temporary relief from the tasks associated with caregiving. Examples of respite care include in-home assistance, short nursing home stays, and adult day care.

Restraints: Devices used to ensure safety by restricting and controlling a person's movement. Many facilities are "restraint-free" or use alternative methods to help modify behavior.

Risk factor: A factor that increases a person's chance of developing a disease or predisposes a person to a certain condition.

Safe Return: The Alzheimer's Association's nationwide identification, support, and registration program that assists in the safe return of individuals with Alzheimer's disease or other dementias who wander and become lost.

Senile plaque: See amyloid plaque.

Senility: A term meaning "old," once used to describe elderly diagnosed with dementia.

Shadowing: Following, mimicking, and interrupting behaviors that people with dementia may exhibit.

Side effect: An undesired effect of a drug treatment that may range from barely noticeable to uncomfortable or even dangerous. Side effects usually are predictable.

WebMD Medical Reference

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