Glossary of Aging Terms

Glossary of dementia-related terms.

Glossary of drugs used to address aging.

Age-related diseases (ARD)
Diseases that become more common at advanced age, such as cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, and neurodegeneration. Scientist Mikhail V. Blagosklonny says age-related diseases are "the best biomarker of aging."
Proposed analog to phenotype that is characteristic of how an individual ages from a physiological standpoint.
Inability to process sensory information such as light, sound and touch.
Procedure to detect blockages in blood vessels using X-rays taken following the injection of a contrast agent (iodine dye). The vessels became visible because the contrast dye within them blocks the X-rays.
Communication disorder that often occurs after neurological injury like stroke. It affects the ability to understand language, speak, read and write.
Loss of strength, either in the body as a whole or in part of the body. Not a disease. Similar in concept to lassitude.
Umbrella term for various degenerative neurological conditions. Can affect person’s muscles coordination, speech and balance.
Something in or about the body that indicates the presence of disease, pre-disease, or some other status of interest. Several biomarkers of aging have been proposed, and specific disease can have biomarkers. High glucose level in the blood is a biomarker of diabetes, for instance.
Characteristic whereby people move slowly in normal life and cannot move quickly even when trying. Although other causes are possible, bradykinesia is most associated with Parkinson’s Disease and is one thing doctors look for when making a diagnosis.
CAM-S Severity Score
A tool for measuring delirium severity with either the short or long assessment methods of CAM.
Clouding of the lens of the eyes and subsequent vision loss.
A person who is 100 years or older. Also called a "centarian".
Cognitive reserve
Capacity of the brain to functionally bounce back from trauma. Neuropathological damage may be permanent for some parts of the brain, but a person’s cognitive reserve may allow him or her to continue to function. Differs among people which may explain why some people are more disabled by dementia than others.
Confusion Assessment Method (CAM)
A standardized method that enables non-psychiatrically trained clinicians to identify delirium quickly and accurately in both clinical and research settings. Most widely used test in patients with dementia.
An acute confusional state characterized by impairments in attention and behavior developing over a short period of time and often fluctuating over the course of the day.
Loss of ability to speak clearly. Often caused by weakened muscles that normally control and enable speech. Makes speech sound blurred to listener.
A communication disorder associated with difficulties in speaking or comprehending language due to brain injury.
Acute inflammation of the brain due to viral infection or allergic reactions.
Epigenetic clock
A measure of an organism's or cell's age based on DNA methylation levels. The older the biomolecules such as DNA get, the more epigenetic changes they display. The idea is that by analyzing the amount of methylation that has occurred, the observer can get an idea of the biological age, which may differ from the chronological age.
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD)
Characterized by tau protein clumps accumulating in nerve cells in the brain’s frontal and temporal lobes. These clumps cause cell death in a particular region which eventually shrink the brain tissue, leading to the condition known as frontotemporal dementia.
Gait (sign of dementia)
Walking abnormalities are common in people with dementia. Dementia-related gait disorders mainly include decreased walking speed and increase in support phase.
Medical specialty concerned with care of the elderly.
Describes drugs that decrease the rate of aging and lengthen life span.
Medicine or practice designed to lengthen lifespan. Mostly in the realm of speculation and fringe medicine so far. Metformin (a medicine for diabetes) is often mentioned as a geroprotector.
Adjective used by a few researchers to describe materials and methods that slow aging.
Group of eye diseases involving damage to the optic nerve. Leading cause of blindness. Measurements of eye pressure important to a diagnosis.
Length of life in which an individual is free from serious illness, especially age-related illness. It has some subjectivity in it as the dividing line between healthy and not healthy is unclear. Healthspan can be no longer than lifespan, and it ia often much shorter. The push among many aging activists and gerontologists is to increase healthspan.
Excessive activity of an organ or system. Often used to refer to endocrine glands that produce increased high amounts of hormones. One theory of aging holds hyperfunction is an important part of the physiology of aging. .
Increase in the number of cells.
Increased in the size of a cell.
Aging of the immune system and decline in its efficacy. More.
Instrumental activities of daily living (IADL)
Activities doctors and nurses look at to see if person is functioning as an adult. These include ability and doing housework, managing money, cooking or preparing food, shopping, and getting around town. These activities are key to living independently. A loss of function could mean the person is in the early stages of a disease or geriatic syndrome.
Korsakoff’s syndrome
Chronic memory disorder caused by severe deficiency of vitamin B1 (thiamine) associated with prolonged alcohol abuse.
Weakness. Often used to describe less on stength in older adults. Motor impairment due to pain or joint dysfunction is often called lassitude if it does not qualify for sarcopenia.
Life expectancy
Average lifespan for humans, often for certain groups, e.g. men, women, from different countries
Term used in systemic biology to describe normal length of time an organism lives
Can refer to lifespan, but most often refers to particularly long lived individuals. This term is too imprecise to use in scientific papers .
Loss of homeostasis (LOH)
Refers to state when a system of the body that normally maintains a homeostasis somehow becomes dysfunctional.
Macular degeneration
Slow-developing disease caused by breakdown in functioning of the macula part of the retina and hence the patient’s vision.
Age-related condition in which the menstrual cycle ceases permanently due to natural depletion of ovarian oocytes.
Condition in which a person has two or more chronic health conditions. It is estimated that over 60 percent of Americans past age 65 have multimorbidity.
Neurodegenerative Disease
Progressive death or degeneration of neurons in the human brain, leading to incurable and debilitating conditions of mental functioning and movement.
Pertaining to nervous and mental diseases.
The branch of medicine that deals with mental disorders attributable to diseases of the nervous system.
Common disease of low bone density and increased risk of fractures.
Age-related decline in eyesight resulting from loss of elasticity in lenses of eyes. People with it can often see things at a distance clearly but struggle with up close images.
Decline in hearing acuity with age. Common in older people. More.
Kinesthesia. How a person experiences movement and orientation of body parts.
Condition that mimics some aspects of dementia but it is actually associated with old-age depression. Often shows up as indifference to the environment even though mental faculties are apparently intact. Related to apathy.
Damage to the blood vessels in the back of the eye and subsequent vision loss. Macular degeneration is a form of retinopathy. Retinopathy as a consequence of diabetes is a major age-related disease.
Loss of muscle mass. No precise or concensus definition, but sometimes diagnosed in older people. One definition is muscle loss to more than two standard deviations below the norm for young adults but there are no good references of what young adult muscle mass and no good way to measure muscle mass in patients. Related to, but not identical to Dynapenia which is a loss of strength.
Sarcopenic Obesity
Sarcopenia (muscle loss to more than two standard deviations below the norm for young adults) accompanied by obesity
senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP)
Type (phenotype) that cells become when they are old and give off cytokines, chemokines, proteases, and growth factors.
Compounds or drugs intended to kill senescent cells in the hope of rejuvenating tissue. Not used in clinical practice, but under investigation.
Drugs intended to lower the influence of senescent cells without killing them.
Senotherapeutic drugs/dt>
Medicines intended to slow aging by targeting cellular senescence. Not used in clinical practice, but under investigation.
Subjective cognitive decline (SCD)
Lowered thinking ability as reported by the patient. Presence of SCD is known to increase the risk of objective cognitive decline and progression to dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease.
A person who is 110 years or older. Also called a supercentarian.
Urinary incontinence
Unintentional leakage of urine.
Vaginal atrophy
atrophic vaginitis Thinning of the walls of the vagina often accompanied by drying and inflammation. Tends to happen as the woman gets older. that may occur when your body has less estrogen. tissues of a woman's vagina no longer work in their normal, healthy way. It happens slowly as the lining of the vagina begins to shrink or thin out.