ABC Method: method of prioritization in which tasks which are most important and urgent are labeled “A”, tasks which are important but not urgent are labeled “B”, and tasks which are not important or urgent at this time and can be completed at a later date are labeled “C”.
ABCs of first aid: stand for A (Airway), B (Breathing), and C (Circulation). This acronym is important to remember when assessing a person who is in need of first aid. Airway is assessed for an obstruction, breathing is assessed to see if the person is breathing and if they need rescue breaths, and circulation is checked by assessing a person’s skin color, temperature and pulse, to see if they need CPR.
Abdominal thrusts: also known as the Heimlich maneuver (see Heimlich maneuver).
Abnormal fear: a fear or being afraid of something which is not normal, or excessive and not rational. Also known as an irrational fear. See phobias.
Abstract (things): things that can only be thought about or imagined; not concrete. When discussing Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory, only children in the Formal Operations Stage can think about abstract things.
Acquired: to obtain something. When discussing disabilities, a disability is acquired if it is obtained after birth or as a result of something not related to genetics. For example, a disability may be acquired due to an infection of the mother during pregnancy.
Adaptive equipment: devices or equipment to help complete activities of daily living (feeding, dressing, toileting, bathing, other self-care activities, and mobility). They can include canes, wheelchairs, walkers, hearing aids, glasses, braille, special plates and eating utensils, and artificial limbs.
Adaptive immune system: this part of the immune system is responsible for making special cells called B cells and T cells which are used to fight infection. These cells are specific to various microorganisms and will either make antibodies or work to destroy any foreign material entering the body. Also known as the acquired immune system or specific immune system.
Administer: to give, dispense, and manage (as in medications). Only licensed personnel such as doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners may administer medications. Home health aides may assist with medications. Personal Care Aides may not assist with medications in any way.
Alzheimer’s disease: a progressive and incurable disease which is due to loss of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter within the brain. The most obvious symptom is dementia (loss of memory). Other symptoms include loss of thinking and reasoning skills, and emotional and behavior changes.
Amulet: a form of jewelry used to protect a person against mal de ojo (the evil eye). Also known as an azabache.
Antioxidant: a substance used to remove free radicals. See free radicals.
Anxiety disorders: a group of disorders in which people feel anxious, frightened, distressed, or terrified to an extent that is more excessive than would be considered appropriate to the situation. See generalized anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): a neurological condition. Symptoms may include hyperactivity, inattentiveness, and impulsiveness. People with ADHD may have difficulty paying attention or functioning in school or work, have trouble with social interactions, and may have behavioral problems. ADHD is a very common childhood disorder which often lasts into adulthood.
Autism spectrum: impairments may range from mild to severe. Symptoms may include not liking physical contact such as hugging, having trouble interacting with others when they speak with them, difficulty being empathetic, repetition of words or actions, seeming as if they are not interested in others around them, or difficulty adapting to changes in routines.
Avoidance: a defense mechanism in which a person avoids or stays away from a situation or person which they believe will be stressful or unpleasant. For example, a wife avoids going to the hospital to visit a friend because her husband passed away there recently.
Azabache: see amulet.
Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy: a condition which affects about 50% of men past the age of 50 years in which the prostate becomes enlarged and compresses on the urethra (the duct through which urine flows from the bladder to the outside of the body). This makes starting and stopping the flow of urine difficult. Other symptoms include dribbling of urine and only urinating small amounts at a time. Also known as BPH.
Bland diet: a diet followed to help avoid irritating the gastric mucosa. Spicy, fried, and foods with high fiber are avoided. Foods are usually cooked, soft, and low in fiber. This type of diet is often used when the gastrointestinal tract needs to rest.
Body language: a form of non-verbal communication. Posture, the way arms are held in relation to the body, facial expression, eye movement, gestures, touch, and the use of space are all types of body language. They all convey a message to the person with whom we are speaking.
CPR: cardiopulmonary resuscitation. A person should be trained and certified in this technique in which chest compressions alternating with rescue breaths are performed to help a person who is not breathing and has no pulse.
Carbohydrates: essential nutrients our body needs in order to provide us with energy; the main way our body gets energy in order to effectively function. Carbohydrates may be in the form of sugar, starch, or fiber. Carbohydrates can be simple or complex, depending on the source of carbohydrate and how long the energy provided by the food lasts.
Care plans: prescribed treatments and services for a patient. They will direct the treatment team as to the types of services the patient has agreed to receive. Nutrition, nursing, physical therapy, counseling, and home care services will all be listed on the care plan.
Catatonic: to be motionless and not move any muscle or body part; to stay in one position for long periods of time. For example, a person with catatonia may keep their arm raised above their head motionless for many hours. See schizophrenia.
Cerebral: pertaining to the brain. See Cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy: a neurological disorder which affects motor development. Symptoms include muscle paralysis, muscle spasticity, difficulty with muscle movement, tone, balance, and coordination. It is usually caused by damage to the brain before or during birth.
Cerebrovascular accident: is also known as a stroke. A stroke can occur when the brain loses adequate oxygen supply. This can happen when there is a blockage in a cerebral artery in the brain, or if a blood vessel in the brain ruptures. Signs of a stroke include facial drooping, arm weakness, speech or concentration difficulties, sudden confusion, weakness, or difficulty with balance or coordination.
Chemical burns: occur when a liquid or powder chemical come into contact with the skin or mucous membranes that line the eyes, nose, or throat. These types of burns can cause serious injury when exposed to skin, or if swallowed.
Choking: the airway is compromised which makes a person unable to breathe. Signs of choking include being unable to talk, cough, or breathe. Choking can occur while a person is eating, drinking, taking medications, or if an object is put into the mouth and accidentally swallowed.
Chronic conditions: conditions that last 6 months or more and which the person has symptoms for a long period of time. Heart failure, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis are examples of chronic conditions.
Clean dressing change: during this procedure regular gloves are worn and every attempt is made to keep the wound area clean and free of bacteria. Sterile gloves and a sterile field are not used. Also known as non-sterile technique.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy: a type of treatment provided by a professional which focuses on how a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are related. Patients are taught to recognize negative self-talk and to turn these thoughts into more positive ones. Also known as CBT.
Cognitive Development Theory: this theory was developed by Jean Piaget and is widely used today to understand the cognitive development of children. The theory states that children go through four stages as they construct meaning of the world. Theories include: Sensorimotor Stage, Preoperational Stage, Concrete Operations Stage, and Formal Operations Stage.
Cognitive disability: a disability in which mental functioning is affected. A person with a cognitive disability has problems with mental functioning and/or ability to adapt to situations. For example, a person with a cognitive disability may have difficulty with reading, language, math, or behavior. See disability.
Compensation: a type of defense mechanism in which a person tries to make up for lacking in one are or having done something wrong by being good in another area. For example, a man who cheats on his wife brings her home flowers and takes her out to dinner to make up for what he did.
Complete care: a patient who requires all personal hygiene care to be provided for them. Patients who require complete care usually also require feeding, bathing, toileting, and transferring to be provided for them. Also known as total care.
Complex carbohydrates: are found in grain products such as bread, cereal, pasta, rice, and vegetables. Complex carbohydrates provide long lasting sources of energy and should be consumed more than simple carbohydrates. See carbohydrate.
Compression: application of a wrapping such as an ACE bandage to put pressure on an area. Compression is used to treat edema and to reduce swelling.
Concrete (things): things which are right in front of a person; firm, solid; not abstract. When discussing Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory, children in the Concrete Operations Stage can only think about things which are concrete.
Concrete Operations Stage: according to Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory the period from 7 to 11 years children learn to perform operations such as math and to reason logically but only about concrete things. They are unable to think abstractly at this level.
Constipation: a lack of, decrease in the number of, or difficulty with having bowel movements. Can be caused by insufficient water or fiber intake, lack of mobility, diseases, and side effects of medications.
Coronary artery disease: a narrowing or blockage of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This may be due to plaque or stiffening of the artery walls. Can cause a heart attack. Also known as CAD.
Cultural competence: the ability to incorporate cultural awareness into the health care practice. It means understanding and respecting a patient’s cultural beliefs and working with them in a way to demonstrate that you respect and honor these beliefs.
Cuts: can occur whenever a sharp object pierces through the surface of the skin. They can range from minor cuts such as a paper cut to major cuts from knives or other sharp objects that pierce the skin and organs below the skin.
Cyanotic/cyanosis: skin turns blue or gray due to lack of oxygen to the body tissues.
Denial: a defense mechanism in which thoughts and feelings are denied or refused to be believed. For example, a person who is angry at their spouse pretends they are not and denies they are angry when asked.
Dermis: the second layer of the skin underneath the epidermis.
Developmental delay: a delay in which a person does not grow and function according to normal patterns of development. For example, a child may not develop speech until months or years after children of the same age typically develop speech abilities.
Developmental disability: a disability that may affect physical, cognitive, learning, language, or behavioral development. There may be a delay in normal development or an impairment of functioning. See cognitive disability, impairment of functioning, normal development, or physical disability.
Digestive system: system of organs which are responsible for digestion, which is the process of absorbing nutrients. Food enters the mouth, moves into the esophagus and then the stomach, moves down into the small and large intestines, respectively, and then into the rectum and finally the anus, where it is excreted as feces.
Digital Rectal Exam: an examination in which the physician feels the prostate for bumps with a gloved and lubricated finger entered into the anus. Abnormal hard and irregular bumps may be an indicator of prostate cancer.
Direct Contact: transmission of infection occurs through direct skin to skin contact, sexual intercourse, or exchange of body fluids such as while kissing. Examples include mononucleosis, Hepatitis B, and HIV.
Disorganized: does not make sense; scattered; no organization. For example, speech that does not make sense is called disorganized speech. See schizophrenia.
Displacement: a defense mechanism in which feelings about a person or situation are “displaced” or placed onto another person. For example, a patient who is angry that they are dying takes it out on his family by yelling at them.
Diuretics: medications that help the body to reduce fluid volume. People take diuretics to help lower blood pressure or if they have heart disease. They help the heart to work less hard, as diuretics help remove water from the body.
Do-not-resuscitate (DNR): a type of advanced directive in which the patient has made a decision to not receive CPR or to have artificial respiration provided by intubation. A DNR is a physician order.
Domestic violence: abuse that occurs by spouses, intimate partners, or family members. It can include any type of abuse: physical abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, or sexual abuse.
Down’s Syndrome: a genetic disorder due to an extra copy of chromosome 21. It can result in cognitive and physical disabilities. There are often physical characteristics such as a small skull, flattened nose, shorter fingers, a larger space between the first two digits on the hands and feet present. Also known as trisomy-21.
Draw sheet: see bed pad.
Droplets: transmission of infection occurs when droplets from sneezing, coughing, or talking are spread a few feet onto another person. Examples include pertussis and meningococcal infections.
Dyskinetic cerebral palsy: a type of cerebral palsy in which people have trouble controlling their muscle movements and their movements may be jerky and uncoordinated. The ability to swallow and chew can be affected.
Elastic support stockings: see compression stockings.
Electrical burns: caused by sources of electricity such as electrical appliances that have been exposed to water or if a short occurs during use. These types of burns can cause very serious injury as they can burn both the outside and inside of the person’s body, damaging skin and internal structures such as organs.
Electrolytes: important ions within the body which have either a positive or negative charge. They help to regulate body functions such as fluid balance, pH balance in the blood, and heartbeat. Sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium are examples of electrolytes.
Emotional abuse: a type of abuse that occurs through emotionally causing harm to a person. This includes name calling, yelling at, humiliating, threatening, intimidating, insulting, making fun of a person, treating a person like a child or as if they are unable to think or make their own decisions, threatening a person in order to make them do something or to not tell on you for something you did or isolating a person.
Empathy: having empathy for another person means that you understand the thoughts and feelings of the other person.
Endocrine system: system within the body which consists of glands which secrete hormones and organs such as the thyroid, parathyroid glands, pancreas, and reproductive organs. It is important to control and maintain metabolic activity within the body.
Estrogen: a hormone which is produced by the ovaries in females and released to maintain female sexual characteristics, to produce menstruation, and to help prepare the uterus for pregnancy; present in smaller amounts in males. In males estrogen is produced by testosterone and converted to estrogen.
Fats: essential nutrients in the diets, which include oils, butter, margarine, salad dressings, and animal fats found in meat, fish, and milk. Fat helps to protect organs, is necessary for cell membranes and for brain and nerve function, is used to insulate the body and help prevent heat loss, and is a carrier for other nutrients. Extra fat can also be used as energy for the body, or it can be stored. A diet high in fat can lead to serious complications. See cerebrovascular accidents, coronary artery disease, and myocardial infarction.
Fiber: include whole grain foods such as cereals and breads, fruits, and, vegetables; a type of carbohydrate. Fiber is important as it helps aid in digestion, helps to lower cholesterol, and helps us to feel fuller longer. See carbohydrates.
Financial abuse is abuse that occurs with regard to a patient’s finances; includes stealing money or property, improperly using a person’s money for things other than the intended purpose, taking advantage of a person’s finances, and threatening to cause physical/emotional harm if a person does not give a person their money.
First degree burns: affect only the epidermis. These are the least serious type of burn. They usually appear red, dry, and slightly swollen.
Five rights of medication self-administration: proper medication administration/assistance requires the healthcare provider keep in mind five important rights: right patient, right medication, right dose, right route, and right time.
Flashbacks: to replay an event repeatedly in one’s mind. See post-traumatic stress disorder.
Formal Operational Stage (11 years to adulthood): According to Piaget’s Cognitive Development theory, the period from 11 years to adulthood in which people can move beyond what is concrete (or right in front of them) and think in abstract ways about things that are not right in front of them or which they can only imagine. They are able to reason and perform logical thinking about abstract things.
Fortified: food to which nutrients are added in order to make them more nutritious. For example, many grain or bread products are fortified, or enriched with extra minerals and vitamins for extra nutrition.
Fowler’s Position: in this position the patient is placed in a sitting up or upright position at a 90 degree angle. This position is used for eating, drinking, and to aid with breathing. Pillows may be placed behind the person to help keep them upright. Also known as High Fowler’s. Semi-Fowler’s position is when a person is at a 30-45 degree angle.
Fragile X syndrome: a common intellectual disability, which occurs as a result from a genetic mutation on the X chromosome. Fragile X syndrome may result in learning disabilities, delays in speech and language, ADHD, and anxiety.
Full liquid diet: foods and liquids in their liquid state or which turn to liquid at room temperature such as ice cream, pudding, and cream-based soups. This type of diet helps a person move from a clear to a regular diet and is often used after gastrointestinal surgeries.
Gait belt: a special belt placed on patients over their clothing to assist with safe transfers, such as moving a patient from a bed to a wheelchair, or to assist with ambulating patients who are unsteady.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder: anxiety is present every day for at least six months, which interferes with the ability to function in one’s everyday life. Symptoms include constant worry, feeling afraid and physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, trouble breathing, nausea, and headaches. Also known as GAD.
Group therapy: therapy where many people with similar problems meet with a therapist to talk about and solve their problems related to life issues and mental health disorders. May take place inpatient or outpatient. See inpatient treatment, mental health therapist, outpatient treatment, social worker, psychotherapy, or psychiatrist.
Hands-only CPR: a technique from the American Heart Association, for those who are not trained in CPR. Chest compressions are performed at a rate of 100 per minute to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive” by placing hands in the center of the person’s chest and pushing hard and fast. An emergency medical service (911) is immediately contacted to request more advanced help.
Heimlich maneuver: a technique of performing abdominal thrusts on a person who is choking. With arms wrapped around the person’s abdomen, a fist is made with one hand with the thumb side of the fist slightly above the belly button. The other hand grasps the fist and quick upward thrusts are performed until the object is dislodged.
High calorie diet: extra calories are added to the diet, often in the form of protein. These types of diets help people to gain weight if malnourished or provide protein to promote healing. Also known as high protein diet.
High diet orders: a diet order that has the word high in it means that there should be an increase in a particular nutrient. Diets requiring “high” amounts should have extra of the nutrient added. Examples of diets with “high” amounts include high calorie, high protein, high residue (fiber), or high potassium.
High protein diet: extra protein is added to the diet. These types of diets help people to gain weight if malnourished or provide protein to promote healing. Also known as high calorie diet.
Hydraulic lift: a piece of equipment used to lift a patient from a bed or chair and transfer them into a bed or chair. These machines use fluid pressure to operate the lift. A person should be specially trained in their use to prevent patient harm. Also known as a mechanical lift.
Hyperactivity: excessive activity, difficulty sitting still, excessive movements. See Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Impulsiveness: acting without thinking. See Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Inattentiveness: trouble paying attention. See Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Incentive spirometer: a special piece of equipment which is used to help encourage a patient to breathe deeply. The patient takes a deep breath through a mouthpiece and is able to see the volume of the air they inhaled as a measuring marker moves with each breath. This helps to keep the alveoli in the lungs open and to prevent diseases such as pneumonia as well as to help improve breathing.
Indirect Transmission: Infectious agents are transmitted from a reservoir to a host through airborne droplets, vectors, or vehicles.
Individual oriented culture: a culture that focuses on the thoughts, wishes, and actions within the individual versus focusing on how one’s behaviors impacts the other people within one’s family or culture. The United States tends to be an individual oriented culture.
Individual therapy: therapy which is focused on one person; a patient meets with a therapist, social worker, or psychiatrist on a one-to-one basis to help treat a mental health disorder. May be provided during inpatient or outpatient treatment. See inpatient treatment, mental health therapist, outpatient treatment, psychiatrist, psychotherapy, or social worker.
Indwelling catheter: a flexible plastic tube (catheter) is inserted into a person’s urinary opening and into the bladder. An external drainage bag collects urine. Some catheters are inserted to collect urine and immediately removed (also known as straight catheterization). Indwelling catheters remain inside a person’s bladder for long periods of time. They should only be inserted by specially trained healthcare staff. Also known as a “Foley”.
Infection control: methods used to stop the spread of infectious agents. Hand washing, wearing gloves, using disinfectant, regularly cleaning the home, and providing personal care on a regular basis, such as bathing, dental care, and toileting assistance are methods to control infections.
Innate immune system: this part of the immune system consists of barriers that protect us from infection, such as our skin and mucous membranes. The cough reflex, the ability to develop a fever, and inflammation are also part of the innaten the test and to the average score, which is 100. Often used to place children in grade levels or to determine proper interventions and treatments for those falling below or above the average level. Also known as IQ.
Intravenous: within the veins. Antibiotics, fluids, and other medications may be administered through the veins by inserting a catheter into a vein through a process known as venipuncture. Also known as IV.
Kidneys: pair of organs which regulate fluid balance in the body and filter wastes from the blood which is excreted from the body in the form of urine.
Inpatient treatment: treatment which is provided within a hospital or rehabilitative type of setting by a professional who practices counseling or psychotherapy. May be provided individually or within a group setting. See individual therapy, group therapy, mental health therapist, psychotherapy, psychiatrist, or social worker.
Institution: a facility or organization in which a person may live due to being unable to care for themselves independently. Nursing homes, homes for developmentally disabled or mentally disabled persons are examples of institutions.
Kippah: see yarmulke.
Large intestine: part of the digestive system; from the small intestine food moves to this area where water is absorbed from nutrients and feces are solidified before it moves to the rectum to be excreted via the anus.
Lead poisoning: ingestion of lead which can be found in paint, particularly from older homes, children’s toys and other household items; can lead to a child having a developmental disability, cause behavioral or cognitive problems, anemia, and weight loss.
Leading statements: these are statements which encourage a person to continue speaking and which demonstrate another’s interest in what is being said. Examples include, “Go on,” “Mmm-hmm,” “Yes,” and “Tell me more.”
Living wills: a type of an advanced directive which explains the type of medical care a patient wants and does not want to receive should they be unable in the future to make decisions for themselves.
Low birth weight (babies): babies who are less than 5 pounds 8 ounces at birth; increases the likelihood of having developmental delays or disability.
Low calorie foods/diets: diets that tain food which are low in calories. Foods may be labeled are reduced calorie, low calorie, or light. People with high cholesterol or who need to lose weight are often on low calorie diets.
Low diet orders: a diet that has the word low in it means that there should be a decrease in a particular nutrient or the nutrient is cut out altogether. Examples include gluten-free diets, low sodium diets, low cholesterol diets, and low protein diets.
Low fat diets: diets that contain foods low in fat. Foods may be labeled as nonfat, reduced fat, fat free, or light. People with high cholesterol or who need to lose weight are often on low fat diets.
Low sodium foods/diet: diets are low in sodium or salt. Foods may be labeled as low sodium, low salt, sodium free, very low sodium, or no salt added. People with high blood pressure, heart or kidney disease, or who are trying to lose weight may be on these types of diets.
Major minerals: minerals which are needed in larger amounts as compared to minor minerals in order for the body to properly function. They include calcium, potassium, chloride, sodium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Mal de Ojo: see Evil Eye.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: a hierarchy developed by Abraham Maslow to describe the needs that people have. Basic needs at the bottom of the hierarchy must be met prior to moving up the hierarchy. The levels include: Physical Needs, Safety Needs, Love & Belonging Needs, Self-esteem Needs, and Self-actualization Needs.
Menopause: the cessation of menstruation; ova are no longer released and ovaries stop making estrogen and progesterone.
Mental health therapist: a professionally trained person who possesses at least a graduate degree and license or certification to provide therapy services. Provides individual or group therapy to help patients deal with life stressors or mental health disorders. May be provided on an inpatient or outpatient basis and during individual or group sessions. See individual therapy, group therapy, inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, or psychotherapy.
Mental retardation: a term which is no longer used to describe impairments in intellectual functioning. See intellectual disabilities.
Minerals: compounds which the body needs in order to perform a variety of functions and to work properly. Examples of minerals include calcium, potassium, sodium, and iron. See major minerals and minor minerals.
Monounsaturated fats: include vegetable fats such as olive oil and canola oil.
Mouth: the opening at the lower part of a person’s face; begins the digestive system where we take in food and begin the process of digestion by chewing.
Muscular dystrophy: a progressive genetic disease in which there is a gradual weakening and wasting away of muscle. People with this disease have difficulty with physically moving due to muscle twitching, stiffness, or atrophy. Also known as MD.
Myocardial infarction: also known as a heart attack. The heart loses adequate oxygen supply. Some signs of a heart attack include chest pain, pain that radiates to the jaw, neck, or back, sweating, difficulty breathing, nausea, anxiety, and chest pressure. This is a medical emergency and help must be obtained immediately.
Neglect: when a person is harmed by a caregiver or when the caregiver fails to provide necessary care. Examples of neglect include failing to: clean a patient up who is soiled, bathe, provide food or fluids or to turn and position a bedridden patient.
Neurologic impairment: an impairment of functioning within the person’s nervous system. Neurologic impairments could impact hearing, vision, motor coordination, speech, learning abilities, behavior, and cognitive functions. See neurological system.
Noncompliance: a patient does not follow the treatment plan or medical recommendations as directed. For example, a patient who refuses to follow a prescribed diet or take medications their physician has ordered is noncompliant.
Normal development: set patterns for how a person should grow and function. For example, children typically are able to crawl, sit, stand, and speak at certain ages. Failure to do so according to normal development patterns is called a developmental delay.
Nutrients: parts of food that provide nourishment in order for us to survive. Examples include carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
Open-ended questions: questions which encourage a patient to continue speaking. They show the patient that what they have to say is important. Examples of these types of questions would be, “Tell me more about your childhood”, or “What are you thinking right now?”
Osteoarthritis: a common type of arthritis which mainly affects the elderly; occurs when there is a degeneration of the joints. Joint degeneration leads to inflammation. Symptoms include pain, inflammation, difficulties with ADLs and activities such as walking and using one’s hands. Also known as OA.
Outpatient treatment: treatment which is provided outside of a hospital setting by a professional who practices counseling or psychotherapy. May be provided individually or within a group setting. See individual therapy, group therapy, mental health therapist, psychotherapy, psychiatrist, or social worker.
Palsy: weakness having to do with muscles. See Cerebral palsy.
Pancreas: an organ which has both endocrine (producing hormones) and exocrine (aiding in digestion by secreting enzymes) functions. The pancreas produces insulin which is important for glucose metabolism, and glucagon which is important to raise blood sugar levels in between meals.
Parathyroid glands: four glands located near the thyroid and which are important to help with calcium balance by releasing parathormone. Also known as PTH. Low calcium levels cause an increase in the release of PTH while high calcium levels within the blood cause a decrease in the release of PTH.
Parkinson’s Disease: a progressive, incurable disorder which affects the nervous system. It is due to decreased dopamine, a neurotransmitter within the brain. Symptoms include tremors, a shuffling gait, stiff muscles, difficulty with posture and movement, and loss of balance. Dementia may occur as it progresses.
Phobias: a type of anxiety disorder in which a person has an abnormal fear about something in particular. For example, some people may have a fear of germs, spiders, heights, being outside the home, crowds, closed in spaces, water, or animals.
Physical abuse: the intentional or unintentional harm to another’s body. Includes slapping, punching, kicking, biting, cutting, bruising, burning, spitting at, pushing, shoving, restraining a person, handling a person in a rough manner or forcing a patient to do something they do not want, such as eat or bathe.
Physical changes: changes that occur within the body as people grow and develop. These include changes that can be seen (e.g. hair color, wrinkles) and those that cannot (e.g. changes in the immune system and reproductive system).
Physical disability: a disability in which the body is affected. A person with a physical disability may have problems with muscle movement, balance and coordination, and being able to perform ADLs. A physical disability may or may not be developmentally related. See disability.
Plaque: fatty deposits blood vessels which contribute to CAD. These fatty deposits cause the blood vessels to become stiff so that blood does not flow through them as well. Plaque is often caused by eating too high of fat and cholesterol intake.
Portal of entry: how an infectious agent enters the host. It may be the same as the portal of exit. For example, influenza exits an infected person’s respiratory tract and enters another person’s respiratory tract
Portal of exit: how an infectious agent leaves its host. Examples of portals of exit can include the respiratory system, urine, feces, and even the skin. A person with the flu can transmit the virus to another person when they sneeze; a person with hepatitis B or HIV can transmit the virus through their blood or body secretions.
Post-traumatic stress disorder: a type of anxiety disorder in which the person has experienced a traumatic event such as sexual abuse, rape, a natural disaster, or who was in combat and experiences severe distress afterward. Symptoms include flashbacks, insomnia, and nightmares. Also known as PTSD.
Preoperational Stage: According to Piaget’s Cognitive Development theory, the period from 2 to 7 years in which children learn about their world beyond just senses and using motor actions. They learn to understand the meaning of words and images by looking at pictures, symbols, and books.
Pressure redistribution devices: Special equipment used to prevent pressure ulcer formation by distributing pressure across the surface area of the device. Examples of this type of equipment would be a cushioned wheelchair pad filled with air, gel, or foam.
Prioritizing: placing tasks in order of importance.
Professional boundaries: setting limits within professional or working relationships in order to maintain healthy relationships. This includes working only established hours, not contacting patients outside working hours, and working within the limits of the care plan.
Projection: a type of defense mechanism in which one makes excuses or blames others for one’s behaviors or actions. For example, a child who throws a toy at their sibling says, “She made me do it because she made me mad!”
Prostate gland: located at the base of the bladder and around the urethra in males; releases prostate fluid which makes up part of semen and helps sperm to move, aiding in fertility; also helps to control release of urine.
Prostate specific antigen: a blood test performed to measure the levels of prostate antigen, which is an enzyme the prostate releases. Low levels of the antigen are found in healthy men. High levels are an indicator of BPH or prostate cancer. Also known as PSA.
Proteins: essential building blocks the body needs to build and repair body tissues, such as muscles, organs, and skin. Sources of protein include poultry, meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, nuts and nut butters, peas, dried beans, and soy products. Protein is used as an energy source or converted to fat.
Psychiatrist: a physician who specializes in treating mental health disorders by meeting with patients to discuss their thoughts and feelings and to provide prescriptions for medications. See psychotherapy.
Psychotherapy: counseling provided by a professional to treat mental health disorders; may be individual or group therapy and may take place within an inpatient or outpatient setting. See individual therapy, group therapy, inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, or psychiatrist.
RACE: the acronym to remind you what to do in case of a fire. R: Remove patients from danger; A: Activate 911; C: Contain the fire if safe and possible to do so; and E: Extinguish fire or call the fire department to do so.
Racism: discrimination based on someone’s race; a belief that one racial group is better than another racial group, or that one member of a race is the same as all other members of that race just because they belong to that racial group.
Reflection: communication technique used to let a person know you are listening to them. Examples include, “You are feeling scared”, “I can imagine how stressful this must be for you” or “You are feeling anxious about what will happen to (patient name).”
Regressing/regression: a defense mechanism in which one becomes less mature or reverts back to a behavior used during a less stressful time in life. For example, an adult has a temper tantrum, or a child who is toilet trained begins to wet the bed.
Repetitive movements: movement of body parts which are repeated over and over; movements may be bizarre. See schizophrenia.
Repressing/repression: a defense mechanism used in which the person blocks out or “forgets” a bad situation. For example, an adult who was sexually abused as a child “forgets” that they were sexually abused.
Rheumatoid arthritis: a type of arthritis that can affect people of all ages and often progresses to the point where mobility is greatly impacted. Inflammation causes degeneration of joints. Symptoms include pain, stiffness, and difficulty completing ADLs. Also known as RA.
Right dose: one of the 5 rights of medication administration in which the correct dose is checked for accuracy prior to a patient taking the medication. The dose listed on the medication label is checked against that listed on the Care Plan or Medication Record.
Right medication: one of the 5 rights of medication administration in which the correct medication name is checked for accuracy prior to a patient taking the medication. The medication listed on the medication label is checked against that listed on the Care Plan or Medication Record.
Right patient: one of the 5 rights of medication administration in which the correct patient name is checked on the medication for accuracy prior to a patient taking the medication. The patient name listed on the medication label is checked against that listed on the Care Plan or Medication Record.
Right route: one of the 5 rights of medication administration in which the correct route of administration is checked for accuracy prior to a patient taking the medication. The route listed on the medication label is checked against that listed on the Care Plan or Medication Record.
Right time: one of the 5 rights of medication administration in which the correct time the medication should be taken is checked for accuracy prior to a patient taking the medication. The time listed on the medication label is checked against that listed on the Care Plan or Medication Record.
Saturated fats: include butter, bacon, lard, coconut oil, and peanut oil. Saturated fats are less healthy options than monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Schizophrenia: a serious mental illness which impacts a person’s ability to think clearly, make decisions, have relationships with others, manage stress and emotions, and function in their everyday lives. A person with schizophrenia may have a variety of symptoms including catatonia, delusions, disorganized behavior, hallucinations, paranoia, psychoses, or repetitive movements.
Seizure: a disorder in which there is increased electrical activity of the brain. The person may have uncontrolled muscle movements, inability to follow directions, drooling, repeated blinking or other movements, and may stop responding.
Self-reflection: a process of examining oneself in order to better understand how you see yourself and to make improvements. This process includes looking at both negative and positive qualities we possess and allows a person to become self-aware.
Sensorimotor Stage: According to Piaget’s Cognitive Development theory, the period from birth to 2 years in which Infants construct an understanding of the world as they interact with it using their senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste). Senses are combined with physical actions and muscle movements such as pushing, pulling, and kicking to make sense of objects around them
Setting boundaries: the process of establishing one’s professional role with patients and families with whom we work. This includes discussing tasks that can and cannot be performed, hours and days to be worked, and how to best contact the healthcare worker.
Sexual abuse: abuse that occurs when a person is touched in a way in which they do not wish to be touched; includes fondling, unwanted touching, and any unwanted sexual activity; exposing oneself to a person and showing someone pornographic materials that they do not wish to see, or taking pornographic pictures of a person without their consent.
Simple carbohydrates: foods found in sugars, sweets, syrups, and jellies. These are made of only 1 or 2 sugar molecules which are easily broken down and digested to provide quick forms of energy for the body. These are less healthy options than complex carbohydrates as their energy source is short-lived and tend to have higher calories.
Slide board: a special board used to help a patient safely move during transfers. It acts as a bridge from one surface to another to help patients who are unable to use their legs safely to stand. Slide boards may be used to assist with transfers into the tub, onto a bed, or from a bed to a chair or wheelchair. A patient’s skin should always be protected while using a slide board.
Small intestine: part of the digestive system which is responsible for the absorption of nutrients. The small intestine is connected to the stomach and consists of three parts: duodenum, jejunum, and ileum.
Social worker: a professionally trained person who possesses at least a graduate degree and license; social workers strive to promote social change and development; some provide counseling services on an individual or group basis to help patients deal with life stressors or mental health disorders. May be provided on an inpatient or outpatient basis. See individual therapy, group therapy, inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, or psychotherapy.
Starches: include grains, potatoes, beans, and peas; the most common form of carbohydrates. Starches are often used as thickeners in food. See carbohydrate.
Stereotypes: the belief that all people within a group are the same based on what you know about one individual within a group. Stereotypes can be about any characteristic of a person such as their looks, sexual orientation, weight, or behavior.
Sterile dressing change: a procedure in which a wound has a dressing that must be changed under completely sterile (free from bacteria) conditions. Sterile gloves which are kept in a sealed package and a sterile field is set up during these dressing changes. This minimizes the risk for any bacteria entering the wound. This is also known as aseptic technique.
Stroke: see cerebrovascular accident.
Sugars: include fruits, vegetables, and sweeteners; a type of carbohydrate. Sugars occur naturally in foods such as vegetables and fruits, and are added to other foods such as baked goods. See carbohydrates.
Sympathy: feeling sorry for another person. It is more an expression of one’s own feelings than an understanding of another’s view point as empathy is.
T cells: a type of white blood cell that helps our bodies to fight infection. T cells are part of the adaptive immune system. They work to identify and either kill invading organisms or to stimulate the rest of the immune system to help fight the infection. Also known as T-lymphocyte.
Thickened liquids: liquids that are made thicker (less thin) by adding a commercial thickener or other additive to assist a person to safely swallow. Often used for people with dysphagia to prevent aspiration.
Third degree burns: affect all layers of the skin and may affect the organs below the surface of the skin. These are the most serious type of burn. The skin may appear white or black and charred and there will be no pain as the nerve endings have been burned away.
Thyroid: a large gland in the neck which makes and releases hormones. It is important for regulating metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. It is an important gland which affects every cell within the body.
Toe pleat: pleats made in sheets or blankets to prevent pressure ulcers from forming on feet or toes. Toe pleats are made by pulling up at the sheets so that they are not tight against the toes and the toes have room.
Tonic-clonic seizures: have two phases: tonic and clonic. In the tonic phase, the person’s muscles contract and spasm. In the clonic phase, the person has repeated muscle movements, and their arms, legs, and torso may jerk violently.
Total care: See complete care.
Tourette’s syndrome: a nervous system disorder in which people tics. See tics.
Toxoplasmosis: a bacteria that is ingested by eating undercooked meat or handling cat feces (such as while cleaning out a litter box); can cause developmental disability in children if a pregnant woman is infected.
Translator: a person who assists with communication by translating or converting words said by one person so another person can understand. They are used when a patient does not speak the same language as a health care provider. They are also used for patients with hearing impairments who speak sign language.
Vehicles: transmission of infection which occurs through blood, water, food, and objects such as surgical instruments, tissues, and bedding. Examples include Hepatitis A which is carried through food or water and botulism which is spread via contaminated canned food.
Vectors: transmission of infection which occurs through living organisms such as ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas. Examples include malaria which is transmitted through mosquitoes and Lyme’s Disease which is transmitted through ticks.
Well-balanced diet: a diet in which all the nutrients our body needs for proper functioning and energy are taken in and adequate water is consumed. Contains a variety of foods from all the food groups, as well as all the necessary vitamins and minerals we need.
Yes and no questions: questions to which either yes or no can be answered. These types of questions are closed-ended questions and should only be used if a yes or no is necessary. They will not help to encourage a person to continue to talk.