Can cognitive function return in late stage Alzheimer’s? In fact, yes, albeit short-term. Previously termed “terminal lucidity,” it’s more frequently referred to now as “paradoxical lucidity.” It signifies a sudden, short-term return of clarity to a nearly pre-dementia frame of mind. During this time period, the effects can range from nonverbal but emotional connections to substantial cognitive recovery.
For friends and family, it is a special gift to be cherished. It provides an opportunity for meaningful reminiscing and conversations, as well as the mutual sharing of feelings and thoughts, if only for a brief period of time. For researchers, it means much more.
Dr. Basil Eldadah, supervisory medical officer at the Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology in the US National Institute on Aging, looks at the opportunities as astounding. “It gives us some pause with regard to our current theories and understanding about the nature of dementia. We’ve seen enough examples of this to be reassured that dementia can be reversed – albeit temporarily, very transiently – nevertheless, it does reverse. And so the question then is how.”
Currently, there are six research studies ongoing to answer that very question, and also to gain more comprehensive insight into the condition and examine future therapeutic approaches. As documented in preliminary data from the studies, it is clear that it’s a much more frequent phenomenon than previously realized. Dr. Sam Parnia, head researcher and critical care doctor, pulmonologist, and associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center says, “If you talk to hospice nurses and palliative care doctors, they all know about this. But no one’s ever studied it properly because no one ever thought anyone would take it seriously enough. So what I wanted to do is to help move this into the scientific realm.”
Education for families taking care of a family member with Alzheimer’s is also crucial. It is important to understand that this short-lived clarity may come about, making it possible for the opportunity to reconnect with the senior loved one, while recognizing that it is not indicative of improvement in his or her condition.
For more dementia educational materials and care resources, reach out to Seniorcorp, leaders in Alzheimer’s and dementia care in Norfolk and the surrounding areas. We’re also always here to provide customized in-home dementia care to make life the very best it can be for people with dementia along with the families who love them, through services including:
- Memory-stimulating games, activities, conversations, and reminiscing
- Knowledgeable, compassionate assistance with the distinct challenges of dementia, for example, aggression, wandering, sundowning, and more
- Help with safe bathing as well as other personal care needs
- Household chores and meals to allow family members to savor more high quality time with the senior they love
- And much more