Even when confusion and memory loss escalate during the final stage of dementia, there’s a fascinating and welcome reprieve that often occurs. Previously coined “terminal lucidity,” it is more frequently referred to now as “paradoxical lucidity.” It represents a sudden, short-term return of clarity to a nearly pre-dementia cognitive state. During this time period, the effects can cover anything from nonverbal but emotional connections to significant cognitive recovery.
For members of the family, it’s a gift to be treasured. It provides the opportunity for meaningful conversations and reminiscing, and also the mutual sharing of thoughts and feelings, if only for a brief period of time. For scientists, it means much more.
Dr. Basil Eldadah, supervisory medical officer at the Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology at the US National Institute on Aging, sees the opportunities as remarkable. “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 underway to answer that very question, and also to gain more comprehensive insight into the condition and to examine future therapeutic approaches. Based on preliminary data from the studies, it’s clear that it’s an even more common phenomenon than previously realized. Dr. Sam Parnia, head researcher and critical care physician, pulmonologist, and associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center states, “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 senior loved one with dementia is also crucial. It’s important to be aware that this short-lived clarity may come about, allowing for the chance to reconnect with the senior loved one, while understanding that it isn’t indicative of improvement in his or her condition.
To get more dementia educational materials and care resources, get in touch with Responsive Home Care, the leaders of in home senior care in Fort Lauderdale and surrounding areas. We are also always here to provide specialized in-home dementia care to make life the best it can be for anyone with dementia together with the families who love them, through services including:
- Memory-stimulating games, conversations, activities, and reminiscing
- Specialized, compassionate help with the distinct challenges of dementia, for example, wandering, aggression, sundowning, and so much more
- Help with safe bathing and other personal care needs
- Meals and household chores to allow family members to relish more high quality time with the older adult they love
- And more