Whenever people in the South Florida area come talk to us about developing an incapacity plan, there are invariably some medical terms with which they need to familiarize themselves. Incapacity planning will require you to consider what might happen to you in the future, and you will need to make choices about the kinds of health care and medical treatment you want to accept or refuse in those situations. This necessarily means that you will have to have some familiarity with common medical terms surrounding incapacitation. In this first of a two-part blog about incapacity planning medical terms in Florida, we are going to take a look at some commonly encountered terminology surrounding cognitive incapacitation.
Incapacity planning medical terms in Florida
- Dementia. Dementia is not a single medical condition, but dementia is something that can apply to a wide variety of situations. A person with dementia has suffered at least some decline in his or her abilities to perceive, think, or remember. Dementia used to be commonly referred to as senility, though this term is not widely used today. Dementia can result from diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, as well as from physical injuries, such as when someone suffers a stroke.
- Alzheimer’s Disease. The sixth leading cause of death in the United States, Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative medical condition that affects a person’s cognitive abilities. Someone with Alzheimer’s disease loses his or her ability to perceive, reason, and recollect. Like other forms of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease has symptoms that can range in severity. For example, someone with the early stages of Alzheimer’s might exhibit only minor changes in his or her ability to recollect or perceive, while someone with later staged Alzheimer’s disease can suffer from a nearly complete degradation of cognitive capacity.
- Global Cognitive Impairment. When health care professionals refer to someone who has almost completely lost his or her ability to think, reason, or remember, they often use the term “global cognitive impairment.” As the name implies, someone with a global cognitive impairment has lost almost all of his or her higher mental capacities, and is almost always completely incapacitated.
- Stroke. A stroke occurs when a blood clot prevents blood from traveling to a part of the brain. This necessarily deprives that part of the brain of the necessary oxygen, resulting in brain damage. That damage can lead to a decline in both cognitive and physical abilities of the person suffering the stroke. Like other medical conditions, strokes can be very minor, and can pass almost unnoticed, or strokes can be extremely severe, even resulting in death. Strokes can also lead to both physical and cognitive incapacitation.