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Alzheimer's Disease Related Terms

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  • Abilities

  • Level at which certain actions and activities can be carried out.

  • Acetylcholine

  • A neurotransmitter that appears to be involved in learning and memory. Acetylcholine is severely diminished in the brains of persons with Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Activities Of Daily Living (ADLS)

  • Personal care activities necessary for everyday living, such as eating, bathing, grooming, dressing, and toileting. People with dementia may not be able to perform necessary functions without assistance. Professionals often assess a person’s ADLs to determine what type of care is needed.

  • AD7C Test

  • The AD7C test marketed by the Nymox Corporation detects levels of a substance called neural thread protein in urine or cerebrospinal fluid. The Alzheimer's Association does not recommend use of this test either for diagnosing or 'ruling out' Alzheimer's disease. Studies supporting the validity of the test have not been replicated by independent laboratories or conducted in an adequate number of individuals. At this time, there is no consensus among Alzheimer experts that this test is valid or useful, and its use is not a part of any recognized diagnostic guidelines developed by professional organizations. Because elevated levels of neural thread protein have been found not only in individuals with Alzheimer's but also in those with brain tumors, strokes, and other neurological disorders, higher than average levels cannot indicate or rule out Alzheimer's disease. There is still no single test for Alzheimer’s disease, and diagnosis is a multi-faceted process that must be administered and evaluated by a skilled health care professional.

  • Adult Day Services

  • Programs that provide participants with opportunities to interact with others, usually in a community center or facility. Staff lead various activities such as music programs and support groups. Transportation is often provided.

  • Advance Directives

  • Written documents, completed and signed when a person is legally competent, that explain a person’s medical wishes in advance, allowing someone else to make treatment decisions on his or her behalf later in the disease process.

  • Adverse Reaction

  • An unexpected effect of drug treatment that may range from trivial to serious or life-threatening, such as an allergic reaction.

  • Age-Matched Controls

  • See controls.

  • Agent

  • The individual\ (usually a trusted family member or friend) authorized by a power of attorney to make legal decisions for another individual. In scientific terms, "agent" sometimes refers to a drug as well.

  • Aggression

  • Hitting, pushing, or threatening behavior that commonly occurs when a caregiver attempts to help an individual with Alzheimer’s with daily activities, such as dressing. It is important to control such behavior because aggressive persons can cause injury to themselves and others.

  • Agitation

  • Vocal or motor behavior (screaming, shouting, complaining, moaning, cursing, pacing, fidgeting, wandering, etc.) that is disruptive, unsafe, or interferes with the delivery of care in a particular environment. An abnormal behavior is considered agitation only if it poses risk or discomfort to the individual with Alzheimer’s or his/her caregiver. Agitation can be a nonspecific symptom of one or more physical or psychological problems (e.g., headache, depression).

  • Allele

  • One of two or more alternative forms of a gene; for example, one allele of the gene for eye color codes for blue eyes, while another allele codes for brown eyes.

  • Alzheimer’s Disease

  • A progressive, neurodegenerative disease characterized by loss of function and death of nerve cells in several areas of the brain, leading to loss of mental functions such as memory and learning. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia.

  • Ambulation

  • The ability to walk and move about freely.

  • Amino Acids

  • The basic building blocks of proteins. Genes contain the code fassembling protein of the 20 amino acids necessary for human growth and function.

  • Amyloid

  • A protein deposit associated with tissue degeneration; amyloid is found in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s.

  • Amyloid Plaque

  • Abnormal cluster of dead and dying nerve cells, other brain cells, and amyloid protein fragments. Amyloid plaques are one of the characteristic structural abnormalities found in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s. Upon autopsy, the presence of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles is used to positively diagnose Alzheimer’s.

  • Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP)

  • A protein found in the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, spleen, and intestines. The normal function of APP in the body is unknown. In Alzheimer’s disease, APP is abnormally processed and converted to beta amyloid protein. Beta amyloid is the protein deposited in amyloid plaques.

  • Animal Models

  • Normal animals modified mechanically, genetically or chemically, used to demonstrate all or part of the characteristics of a disease. With models, researchers can study the mechanisms of a disease and test therapies.

  • Antibodies

  • Specialized proteins produced by the cells of the immune system that counteract a specific foreign substance. The production of antibodies is the first line of defense in the body’s immune response.

  • Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

  • Drugs that reduce inflammation by modifying the body’s immune response.

  • Anxiety

  • A feeling of apprehension, fear, nervousness, or dread accompanied by restlessness or tension.

  • Apathy

  • Lack of interest, concern, or emotion.

  • Aphasia

  • Difficulty understanding the speech of others and/or expressing oneself verbally.

  • Apolipoprotein E

  • A protein whose main function is to transport cholesterol. The gene for this protein is on chromosome 19 and is referred to as APOE. There are three forms of APOE: e2, e3, and e4. APOE-e4 is associated with about 60 percent of late-onset Alzheimer’s cases and is considered a risk factor for the disease.

  • Apoptosis

  • Programmed cell death.

  • App

  • See amyloid precursor protein.

  • Art Therapy

  • A form of therapy that allows people with dementia opportunities to express their feelings creatively through art.

  • Assay

  • The evaluation or testing of a substance for toxicity, impurities, or other variables.

  • Assessment

  • An evaluation, usually performed by a physician, of a person’s mental, emotional, and social capabilities.

  • Assisted Living Facility

  • A residential care setting that combines housing, support services, and health care for people typically in the early or middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Atrophy

  • Shrinking of size; often used to describe the loss of brain mass seen in Alzheimer’s disease during autopsy.

  • Autonomy

  • A person’s ability to make independent choices.

  • Autopsy

  • Examination of a body organ and tissue after death. Autopsy is often performed (upon request) to confirm a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Axon

  • The arm of a nerve cell that normally transmits outgoing signals from one cell body to another. Each nerve cell has one axon, which can be relatively short in the brain but can be up to three feet long in other parts of the body.


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Alzheimer’s Disease Terms






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