Glossary of Aging Terms


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."
Agnosia
Inability to process sensory information such as light, sound and touch.
Angiogram
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.
Aphasia
Communication disorder that often occurs after neurological injury like stroke. It affects the ability to understand language, speak, read and write.
Ataxia
Umbrella term for various degenerative neurological conditions. Can affect person’s muscles coordination, speech and balance.
Bradykinesia
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.
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.
Delerium
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.
Dysarthria
Not to be confused with dementia. An acute confusional state which affects attention, it is reversible and typically caused by acute illness or drug toxicity.
Dysphasia
A communication disorder associated with difficulties in speaking or comprehending language due to brain injury.
Encephalitis
Acute inflammation of the brain due to viral infection or allergic reactions.
Frontotemporal dementia
The tau protein clumps accumulate 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.
Gerontology
Medical specialty concerned with care of the elderly.
Geroprotective
Describes drugs that decrease the rate of aging and lengthen life span.
Hyperfunction
Increased activity or function of organ or organ system beyond normal operation.
Hyperplasia
Increase in the number of cells.
Hypertrophy
Increased in the size of a cell.
Immunosenescence
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.
Lassitude
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.
Loss of homeostasis (LOH)
Refers to state when a system of the body that normally maintains a homeostasis somehow becomes dysfunctional..
Menopause
Age-related condition in which the menstrual cycle ceases permanently due to natural depletion of ovarian oocytes.
Neurodegenerative Disease
Progressive death or degeneration of neurons in the human brain, leading to incurable and debilitating conditions of mental functioning and movement.
Neuropsychiatry
The branch of medicine that deals with mental disorders attributable to diseases of the nervous system.
osteoporosis
Common disease of low bone density and increased risk of fractures.
Pick's Disease
Also known as frontotemporal dementia. Caused by degeneration of brain structure in the frontotemporal lobe. Patients may have difficulty with language, behavior, thinking, judgment, and memory.
Plaques & tangles
Abnormal clusters of protein Beta-amyloid protein that forms thickets between nerve cells and gradually build up. They may block cell to cell signaling at synapse.

Tau is an abundant protein in neurons. It normally has a parallel structure but in Alzheimer’s disease the protein collapses into twisted strands, known as Tangles.
Presbyopia
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 cloase images.
Presbycusis
Decline in hearing acuity with age. Common in older people.
Pseudo-dementia
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.
Sarcopenia
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 This does not include loss of muscle strength, which is defined by Dynapenia.
Sarcopenic Obesity
Sarcopenia (muscle loss to more than two standard deviations below the norm for young adults) accompanied by obesity
Sundowning Syndrome - aka Sundowning
A phenomenon in which patients of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease experience increased restlessness, confusion, and behavioral problems. Called sundowning because it starts in the late afternoon.
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.
Wandering
Walking around with no apparent aim. Common behavior in Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, they often experience problems in orientation and memory.