The level at which certain actions and activities can be carried out.


A chemical in the brain (neurotransmitter) that appears to be involved in learning and memory – Acetylcholine is greatly diminished in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Activities of daily living (ADLs)

Personal care activities necessary for everyday living, such as eating, bathing, grooming, dressing and using the toilet.

Adult day services

Programs that provide participants with opportunities to interact with others, usually in a community center or dedicated facility.

Adjuvant therapy

Treatment provided in addition to the primary treatment

Advance directive (living will)

A document written when in “good” health that informs your family and health care providers of your wishes for extended medical treatment in times of emergency.

Adverse reaction

An unexpected effect of drug treatment that may range from minor to serious to life- threatening, such as an Accelerated Living Benefit; This benefit entitles the life insurance policyholder to collect the benefits before death.


One of the different forms of a gene that can exist at a single locus (spot on a chromosome) or site.


A waxy translucent substance consisting of protein in combination with polysaccharides that is deposited in some animal organs and tissues under abnormal conditions (as Alzheimer’s disease).

Amyloid plaque

Build up of amyloid protein and a primary hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

Amyloid precurser protein

A gene, when mutated, causes an abnormal form of the amyloid protein to be produced. Abbreviated APP.

Anti-agitation drugs

Broadly categorized type of drugs with strong sedating effects.

Anti-anxiety drug

Also called anxiolytics, this drug help manage a patient who has anxiety

Anti-psychotic drug

Also called neuroleptics, this type of drug is used to help manage behavioral problems for a patient with a serious mental disorder.


A broad category of drugs used to address infections within patients.


An anti-agitation drug to manage behavioral problems of a patient who suffers from depression.


A drug that relieves anxiety


The abbreviation for apolipoprotein E – a gene that codes for a protein in lipoproteins (complexes of fat + protein).


A gene, when mutated, causes an abnormal form of the amyloid protein to be produced. APP stands for amyloid precurser protein.

Autosomal dominant inheritance

A gene on one of the autosomes (non-sex chromosomes) that, if present, will almost always produce a specific trait or disease.


A long fiber of a nerve cell (a neuron) that acts somewhat like a fiber-optic cable carrying outgoing messages. The portion of a neuron that transmits energy from the cell body to the receptors of other neurons.

Beta amyloid

An amyloid derived from a larger precursor protein and is a component of the neurofibrillary tangles and plaques characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.


An enzyme that catalyses the splitting of interior peptide bonds in a protein. Beta-secretase acts by trimming off a protein protruding from a brain cell. This small snip is thought to be the first step in the buildup of microscopic balls of debris known as amyloid that are toxic to brain cells.

Blinded study

A research study in which participants do not know whether they are in the experimental or control group.

Care manager

In medicine or public health,one who applies his/her knowledge to the benefit of a community or individual.

Case manager

One who handles patient with instance of disease with its attendant circumstances.


An anti-inflammatory drug thought to reduce Alzheimer’s risk in persons with a family history of dementia.

Cerebrovascular disease

Disease of the cerebrum and the blood vessels supplying it.


Of or relating to the brain and spinal cord or to these together with the cranial and spinal nerves that innervate voluntary muscles.

Cholinesterase inhibitors

Class of drugs known to delay the breakdown of acetylcholine.


A visible carrier of the genetic information.

Circadian rhythm

The sleep/wake cycle


Pertaining to cognition, the process of being aware, knowing, thinking, learning and judging.

Congregate housing

Group housing or independent living facilities available to elderly and disabled, with private living quarters and common dining and social areas.

Control group

The standard by which experimental observations are evaluated.

CT scan

Pictures of structures within the body created by a computer that takes the data from multiple X-ray images and turns them into pictures on a screen. CT stands for computerized tomography.
Declarative memory
Recalling newly learned information about people, places and things.
A condition, usually chronic, of global impairment of cognition that occurs in the absence of clouded consciousness. In many cases, such as in Alzheimer’s disease, the condition is progressive.


A drug currently approved in preventing the development of Alzheimer’s in people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment.
A drug currently approved in preventing the development of Alzheimer’s in people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment.
Double-blind study
A research study where neither the participants nor the study staff know which participants are receiving the experimental treatment and which ones are getting either a standard treatment or a placebo.
Double-masked study
A research study where neither the participants nor the study staff know which participants are receiving the experimental treatment and which ones are getting either a standard treatment or a placebo.
Durable power of attorney Elder law attorney
A paid professional who helps ensure a loved one’s eliability for Medicaid and protect his or her assets.


Complex proteins that are produced by living cells and bring about specific biochemical reactions at body temperature.


All the factors that deal with incidence, distribution and control of disease in a population.

Epidemiological study

Population-based research study


Estrogen is a female hormone produced by the ovaries. Estrogen deficiency can lead to osteoporosis.

Family practice

The medical specialty which provides continuing and comprehensive health care for the individual and family. It is the specialty in breadth which integrates the biological, clinical, and behavioral sciences. The scope of family practice encompasses all ages, both sexes, each organ system, and every disease entity. (From the American Academy of Family Physicians)

Free radicals

a molecule or atom that contains an unpaired electron, but is neither positively or negatively charged. They are usually highly reactive and unstable.

Gamma secretase

An enzyme partly responsible for plaque buildup in the brain characteristic of Alzheimer’s.


Of, relating to, affecting, or including both stomach and intestine

Gene expression

The screening of large numbers of genes to see whether they’re active under certain conditions.

General practitioner

A physician whose practice is not limited to a specialty

Geratric psychiatrist

A specialist in the branch of medicine concerned with both the prevention of illness in older people and psychiatry.

Geriatric care manager

Functions as a surrogate family member when the actual family is unable to interact with Medicaid


The branch of medicine concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease in older people and the problems specific to aging.

Gingko biloba

A natural product currently the focus as a potential treatment for Alzheimers and vascular dementia.


Supporting tissue that is intermingled with the essential elements of nervous tissue especially in the brain and spinal cord.


A court supervised decision maker imposed involuntarily by the court.




An area buried deep in the forebrain that helps regulate emotion and memory.


A group of corresponding amino acids found in proteins.


A facility or program designed to provide a caring environment for supplying the physical and emotional needs of the terminally ill.


A non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug used to relieve pain and fever.

Income test

A means-tested cash assistance program that forms an important part of the safety net for the elderly, blind and disabled.


A non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug,analgesic, used especially in treating arthritis.


A basic way in which the body reacts to infection, irritation or other injury, the key feature being redness, warmth, swelling and pain. Inflammation is now recognized as a type of nonspecific immune response.

Internal medicine

A medical specialty dedicated to the diagnosis and medical treatment of adults.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

A special radiology technique designed to image internal structures of the body using magnetism, radio waves, and a computer to produce the images of body structures.


A syndrome of memory impairment that does not significantly impact daily activities and is not accompanied by declines in overall cognitive function. Abbreviation for mild cognitive impairment.

Masked study

A research study in which participants do not know whether they are in the experimental or control group.

Medicare Part A

Helps pay for care in a hospital or skilled nursing facility, home healthcare and hospice care.

Medicare Part B

Helps pay for doctors, outpatient hospital care and other medical services not requiring hospitalization.


The mitochondria are round or long parts of a organelle or tissue cell. They consist of two sets of membranes and are located in the cell’s cytoplasm outside the nucleus.

Mild cognitive impairment

A syndrome of memory impairment, and diminished awareness or judgement.


An anti-inflammatory agent used in the treatment of rheumatoid conditions.


Relating to or characterized by degeneration of nervous tissue.

Neurofibrillary tangles

A fine fiber found in cytoplasm signalling an abnormality of the hippocampus and neurons of the cerebral cortex that occurs especially in Alzheimer’s disease.


A term that refers to the effects of antipsychotic drugs on a patient, especially on his or her cognition and behavior.


A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the nervous system.


One of the cells that constitute nervous tissue, that have the property of transmitting and receiving nervous impulses.


A specialist in the branch of medicine concerned with both neurology and psychiatry.


Concerned with the integration of psychological observations on behavior and the mind with neurological observations on the brain and nervous system.


A psychologist who has completed special training in the neurobiological causes of brain disorders, and who specializes in diagnosing and treating these illnesses using a predominantly medical (as opposed to psychoanalytical) approach.


A substance (as norepinephrine or acetylcholine) that transmits nerve impulses from one cell to another across a synapse.


Various strategies aimed at managing problematic behaviors, including therapy, changes in the home or environment and the use of appropriate communication techniques.


A disturbance in the verbal output of a patient. A literal paraphasia involves the substitution of letters in a word, for example, “ridilicous” for “ridiculous.” Semantic or verbal paraphrasia involves the substitution of one word for another. The two words are usually in the same semantic class, for example “shirt” for “pants.”

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)


A patient who is not hospitalized overnight but who visits a hospital, clinic or facility for diagnosis or treatment.

Oxidative stress

This is caused by the release of molecules from normal cellular processes.

Paranoid delusion

An abnormal mental state characterized by suspiciousness and/or persecutory trends


Due to or involving disease.


The study of the essential nature of diseases and especially of the structural and functional changes produced by them.


Small molecular fragments that come from two or more amino acids by combining the amino group of one acid to the carboxyl group of another. They are obtained by partial hydrolysis of proteins.


Positron emission tomography, a highly specialized imaging technique using short-lived radioactive substances. This technique produces three-dimensional colored images.


The properties and reactions of drugs especially with relation to their therapeutic value and medical toxicology.


A form of phosphoric acid. Calcium phosphate makes bones and teeth hard.


Phosphorylation is a biochemical process that involves the addition of phosphate to an organic compound.


A “sugar pill” or any dummy medication or treatment.


A localized abnormal patch on a body part or surface.


A drug used as an anti-inflammatory agent especially in the treatment of arthritis, as an antineoplastic agent, and as an immunosuppressant.

A gene, when mutated, causes an abnormal presenilin 1 protein to be produced

Presenilin 2

A gene, when mutated, causes an abnormal presenilin 2 protein to be produced.


A female hormone which helps prepare the uterus (the womb) to receive and sustain the fertilized egg.

Protein kinases

An enzyme that catalyzes the transfer of phosphate groups from a high energy phosphate-containing molecule to a substrate.

Protein phosphorylation

A process which alters a given protein’s activity by changing its molecular structure through the addition or removal of a kind of decoration called “phosphate.”


In the general sense, a mental illness that markedly interferes with a person’s capacity to meet life’s everyday demands. In a specific sense, it refers to a thought disorder in which reality testing is grossly impaired.


Pertaining to one’s psychological development in the context of one’s social environment.


A cell or group of cells that receive stimuli.

Respite program

A program which enables caregivers to take needed breaks from caregiving while knowing their loved one is well taken care of.

Reverse mortgage

A way of converting the equity of one’s home into cash without having to sell the home.

Second messengers

A substance that mediates a biological effect.


The enzyme involved in cutting amyloid into the shorter beta-amyloid form.


To dose with sedatives.


Drugs that calm a patient down, easing agitation and permitting sleep. Sedatives generally work by modulating signals within the central nervous system.


A drug sometimes used alone to treat endogenous depression or to treat dementia associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Signal transduction

A basic process in molecular cell biology involving the conversion of a signal from outside the cell to a functional change within the cell.


The point of connection usually between two nerve cells. More specifically, a specialized junction at which a nerve cell (a neuron) communicates with a target cell.


To form a synapse or come together in synapsis.

Synaptic connection

When one nerve cell releases a chemical known as a neurotransmitter, which is detected by its neighbor nerve cell.


Twisted fibers that build up inside the nerve cells.


A protein which channels chemical messages inside nerve cells.


pertaining to the thyroid gland or to a preparation made of mammalian thyroid tissue to treat hypothyroidism.

Thyroid gland

A gland located in the lower part of the neck below the Adam’s apple.


Having genetic material (DNA) from another species. This term can be applied to an organism that has genes from another organism that have been incorporated either artificially or naturally.

Viatical benefits

The conversion of a life insurance policy into cash before the death of the insured.

Viatical settlement company

A company that purchases life insurance policies by offering an amount typically less than the face value of the policy and pays a lump sum amount or regular installments to the policyholder.


The person on whose behalf decisions are being made.