When Lucidity Returns in the End Stages of Dementia and What It’s Teaching Us

caregiver consoling senior woman
Midnight Sun Home Care, providers of Alaska home health services, discusses the meaning behind lucidity in the end stages of dementia.

Even as memory loss and confusion escalate throughout the progression of dementia, there is an interesting and pleasant reprieve that often occurs. Previously termed “terminal lucidity,” it’s more frequently known as “paradoxical lucidity.” It signifies an unexpected, temporary return of clarity to a nearly pre-dementia state of mind during the end stages of dementia. During this period, the effects can consist of nonverbal but emotional connections to significant cognitive recovery.

For family members, it’s a special gift to be cherished. It provides the opportunity for meaningful reminiscing and conversations, along with the mutual sharing of thoughts and feelings, if only for a short period of time. For researchers, it means much more.

Dr. Basil Eldadah, supervisory medical officer in 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.”

There are currently six research studies ongoing to answer that very question, and also to gain more comprehensive insight to the condition and to explore future therapeutic approaches. According to preliminary data from the studies, it is clear that it is a far more frequent phenomenon than realized previously. 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 family members taking care of a senior with dementia is also important. It’s important to be aware that this temporary clarity may occur during the end stages of dementia, making it possible for the chance to reconnect with the older adult, while recognizing that it isn't indicative of improvement in his or her condition.

For more Alzheimer's care resources and educational materials, connect with Midnight Sun Home Care. We’re also always here to provide specialized in-home dementia care to make life the best it can be for those with Alzheimer's disease along with the families who love them, through services such as:

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

Contact us online or give us a call at (907) 677-7890 for the best possible quality of life for a senior you love with Alzheimer's disease. We’re happy to schedule a free in-home consultation to assess your loved one’s care needs and discuss why we’re the premier provider of Alaska home health services.


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