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Jargon busters

The problem with the language we use

Sometimes it can be difficult to wade through the numerous acronyms, abbreviations, and jargon used within dementia care. Our list explains the most commonly-confusing language so that you can stay in the loop.

Common acronyms

STM – Short term memory

LTM – Long term memory

MCI – Mild cognitive impairment

LBD – Lewy body dementia

FTDFrontotemporal dementia

ASC – Adult social care

CNA – Care needs assessment

ADL Activities of daily living

FA – Financial assessment

CA – Carer’s assessment

CTR – Council tax reduction

AA – Attendance allowance

BB – Blue badge

LPA – Lasting power of attorney

DNAR – Do not attempt resuscitation


Dementia An umbrella term for a range of neurological changes that occur in the brain that can have an impact on someone’s memory, cognitive ability, thinking and reasoning. These changes are progressive and depending on where these changes first occur can help determine the type of dementia someone has. There are over 200 different types of dementia.

Young onset dementia – When dementia appears before the age of 65. You may otherwise hear it called ‘early onset dementia’.

Alzheimer’s disease – The most common type of dementia. This is caused by a build of proteins in the brain which can affect the way signals and messages are transmitted. This can then lead to symptoms, such as memory loss, communication, ability to carry out daily tasks and recognition.

Vascular dementia – The second most common type of dementia. This is caused when there is an interruption to the vascular system leading to a reduction in blood flow to the brain, e.g. stroke or heart attack, resulting in damage to brain cells. Symptoms tend to be dependent on where the damage in the brain first occurs, e.g. language, reading and walking.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) – Changes within a person’s brain that can cause some memory and thinking problems, but not enough to impact on their daily life.

Lewy body dementia (LBD) -Similar to Alzheimer’s, LBD is caused due to proteins, called lewy bodies, building up in specific parts of the brain – the nerve cells. People with LBD can share symptoms of those with Alzheimer’s, but also exhibit Parkinson-like symptoms, such as tremors, hallucinations (both visual and auditory), increase in falls and confusion.

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) – Where the damage to the nerve cells in the brain first occurs in the frontal and temporal lobes. The transmission of messages and signals between these parts of the brain breakdown and can cause symptoms such as a lack of inhibitions, changes in the person’s normal behaviour and repetitive behaviours.

Mixed dementia – Where a person has two different types of dementia. The most common combination is Alzheimer’s and Vascular dementia. The person may experience symptoms linked with both types of dementia. 

Lasting power of attorney (LPA) – A legal document that allows your appointed person(s) to make decisions on your behalf at a time of your choosing or if you are no longer able to make your own decisions. There are two types of LPA:

  • Health & Welfare – where your appointed person can make decisions on your behalf regarding your health and wellbeing, e.g. liaising with GP’s about medical care.
  • Property & Finance – where your appointed person can make decisions on your behalf regarding your finances, e.g. accessing your bank account to pay bills.

Person-centered care – An approach to dementia care that focuses on the individual’s unique needs, preferences, and abilities, with an emphasis on dignity, respect and identity.

Sundowning – A phenomenon in which individuals with dementia may exhibit more
confused and restless behaviours in the late afternoon and evening.

Respite care – Temporary care provided to individuals with dementia to give their primary caregivers a break or time to attend to their own needs.

Assistive technology – Devices and tools designed to help individuals with dementia perform daily tasks and maintain independence.

Palliative care – A holistic approach to care that focuses on managing symptoms, providing comfort, and improving the quality of life for individuals with dementia.

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