What Does It Mean when Lucidity Returns at the End Stages of Dementia?

happy family visiting senior woman at hospital

“Paradoxical lucidity” is a sudden and short-term regaining of clarity in the end stages of dementia.

Even as confusion and memory loss escalate throughout the end stages of dementia, there’s an interesting and welcome reprieve that frequently occurs. Formerly coined “terminal lucidity,” it’s more frequently now known as “paradoxical lucidity.” It signifies a sudden, short-term regaining of clarity to a nearly pre-dementia frame of mind. During this period, the effects can cover anything from nonverbal but emotional connections to noteworthy cognitive recovery.

For members of the family, it is a gift to be cherished. It offers the opportunity for meaningful reminiscing and conversations, and the mutual sharing of feelings and thoughts, if only for a short period of time. For medical researchers of the end stages of dementia, 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, views the opportunities as incredible. “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 underway to answer that very question, and also to gain more detailed insight into the condition and to examine future therapeutic approaches. As indicated by preliminary data from the studies, it is clear that it’s a far 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 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 caring for a senior with Alzheimer’s is also crucial. It is important to understand that this temporary clarity may happen, 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 CareWorks Health Services, the leader in home health agencies in Huntington Beach and the surrounding communities. We’re also always here to provide customized in-home dementia care in order to make life the best it can be for those with dementia and the families who love them, through services such as:

  • Memory-stimulating games, conversations, activities, and reminiscing
  • Expert, compassionate assistance with the distinctive challenges of dementia, such as aggression, wandering, sundowning, and more
  • Help with safe bathing and other personal care needs
  • Household chores and meals to permit members of the family to relish more quality time with the older adult they love
  • And much more

Contact us at (949) 859-4700 to find the best possible quality of life for someone you love with Alzheimer’s.