X Glossary

Adaptive behavior: The skills and abilities to live independently.

Agnosia: The failure to recognize or identify objects despite intact sensory function.

Anxiety: A universal human experience that includes feelings of apprehension, uneasiness, uncertainty, or dread resulting from a real or perceived threat.

Anxiety disorder: A condition diagnosed when an individual experiences more than temporary worry or fear that interferes with their daily functioning.

Apraxia: The impaired ability to carry out motor activities despite intact motor function. This means the person can understand instructions and has the ability to complete an action but cannot process the cue to actually perform the task.

Bipolar disorder: A condition that includes shifts in mood from abnormal highs (called manic episodes) to abnormal lows (i.e., depressive episodes) that cause significant impairment on the person’s functioning socially or at work.

Delirium: Psychosis caused by medical conditions or substance use that starts suddenly and is reversible by treating the cause of the delirium.

Delusions: Fixed, false beliefs held by a person even though there is concrete evidence they are not true.

Dementia: A general term for loss of memory, language, problem-solving, and other thinking abilities that are severe enough to interfere with daily life. There are several types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, and frontotemporal dementia.

Depressive episode: A condition where the person experiences a depressed mood (feeling sad, irritable, or empty) or a loss of pleasure or interest in activities they normally enjoy. Other symptoms may include poor concentration, feelings of excessive guilt or low self-worth, hopelessness about the future, thoughts about dying or suicide, disrupted sleep, changes in appetite or weight, and feeling especially tired.

Developmental disorders: Disorders caused by impairments in the brain or central nervous system due to problems that occurred during fetal development.

Hallucinations: A symptom of psychosis when someone perceives seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, or smelling something that is not actually present. Some people are aware that their hallucinations are not real while others cannot separate their hallucinations from reality.

Manic episode: An elevated or irritable mood with abnormally increased energy that lasts at least one week.

Obstructive sleep apnea: A condition where one’s breathing temporarily stops while sleeping.

Panic attacks: Sudden periods of intense fear that come on quickly and reach their peak within minutes. Attacks can occur unexpectedly or can be brought on by a trigger, such as a feared object or situation. People experiencing a panic attack may exhibit symptoms such as sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, increased heart rate, or feelings of losing control.

Perseverating: The act of repeating a task or thought over and over.

Personality disorder: A pattern of inner experiences and behaviors that deviates from the expectations of the individual’s culture.

Phobia: An intense fear of specific objects or situations (such as flying, heights, spiders, or social events).

Pocketing: The act of keeping food or medications in one’s cheeks and not swallowing it.

Psychosis: Conditions when a person experiences a loss of contact with reality and has difficulty understanding what is real and what is not real. Symptoms of psychosis include hallucinations and delusions.

Substance use disorder (SUD): An illness caused by the repeated misuse of substances such as alcohol, caffeine, cannabis, hallucinogens, inhalants, opioids, sedatives, stimulants, or misuse of other prescription or over-the-counter medications. All these substances taken in excess have a common effect of intensely activating the reward system in the brain so much that normal life activities may be neglected.

Sundowning: Restlessness, agitation, irritability, or confusion that typically begins or worsens as daylight begins to fade and can continue into the night, making it difficult for patients with dementia to sleep.

Trauma: An event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening and can have lasting adverse effects on their functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.

Trisomy: A condition of having an extra copy of a chromosome.

Validation therapy: A technique used when caring with individuals with dementia that involves supporting the reality the person is experiencing.

Wandering: The simple act of a person walking around with no purpose due to their confusion regarding their location or environment.


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