The Surprising Sense of Awareness in End-Stage Dementia and What It Means

The Surprising Sense of Awareness in End-Stage Dementia and What It Means

Someone you love may experience a heightened sense of awareness in end-stage dementia, which can be both surprising and overwhelming.

Even as confusion and memory loss escalate during the advancement of dementia, there’s a fascinating and pleasant reprieve that often occurs. Formerly termed “terminal lucidity,” it is more commonly known as “paradoxical lucidity.” It signifies an unexpected, short-term regaining of clarity and awareness in end-stage dementia to a nearly pre-dementia frame of mind. During this time period, the effects can consist of nonverbal but emotional connections to a more drastic improvement in cognitive functioning.

For loved ones, it’s a special gift to be cherished. It offers an opportunity for meaningful conversations and reminiscing, and also the mutual sharing of feelings and thoughts, if only for a brief period of time. For medical 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, views the opportunities as extraordinary. “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 scientific studies ongoing to answer that very question, and also to gain more comprehensive insight into the condition and examine future therapeutic approaches. Based on initial data from the studies, it is clear that it’s a much more common phenomenon than previously realized. Dr. Sam Parnia, lead researcher and critical care physician, pulmonologist, and associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center explains, “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 caring for a family member with dementia is also essential. It’s crucial to remember that this short-lived clarity may occur, allowing for the chance to reconnect with the senior loved one, while understanding that it’s not at all indicative of improvement in his/her condition.

How Can Home Care Help Someone With Dementia?

For more Alzheimer’s educational resources, reach out to Hired Hands Homecare. We are also always here to provide specialized in-home dementia care in order to make life the very best it can be for those with dementia, along with the families who love them, through services such as:

  • Memory-stimulating games, conversations, activities, and reminiscing
  • Expert, compassionate assistance with the unique challenges of dementia, such as wandering, aggression, sundowning, and much more
  • Help with safe bathing and other personal care needs
  • Meals and household chores to permit members of the family to enjoy more high quality time with the senior they love
  • And so much more

Give us a call at (866) 940-4343 to discover the best possible quality of life for a senior you love with Alzheimer’s disease and to find out if our California home care services are available in your area.

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