Unexpected cognitive lucidity and communication in patients with severe dementias, especially around the time of death, have been observed and reported anecdotally. This paper explores this phenomenon, which experts refer to as terminal or paradoxical lucidity | Alzheimer’s & Dementia | via ScienceDaily
The paper describes earlier work documenting case studies of individuals with advanced dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, appearing to be able to communicate and recall in a seemingly normal fashion at the end of life, to the astonishment of their caregivers.
The authors acknowledge that studying paradoxical lucidity is challenging, given the fleeting nature of the event. Case studies report episodes lasting from mere seconds to at most several days for a small minority of cases. Thepaper also outlines important ethical implications of this work, including the ability of vulnerable patients to participate in research and how the observation of paradoxical lucidity might change the way caregivers interact with people with dementia.
The researchers hope their paper will help raise awareness within the scientific community to advance paradoxical lucidity research, and help validate the experiences of a multitude of caregivers.
Full paper: George A. Mashour et al. | Paradoxical lucidity: A potential paradigm shift for the neurobiology and treatment of severe dementias | Alzheimer’s & Dementia | 2019
See also: Moments of clarity in dementia patients at end of life: Glimmers of hope? | ScienceDaily