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Article explaining the perspective of an Alzheimer's patient

Their Real Worldä


Do they know they have Alzheimer s?




As you know, people with Alzheimer s Disease are unable to reason, rationalize or comprehend the way they use to be able to. They have a dementia and forming new memories is restricted. New information is not stored to be retrieved at a later time. New memories are lost almost as quickly as they happen. More typically however, old memories remain intact and retrievable longer because the information had already been stored before the dementia.


If you find yourself arguing or trying to reason with someone who has Alzheimer s, stop for a minute and ask yourself What am I doing? Does this person I m attempting to rationalize with have Alzheimer s Disease? Do they know they have Alzheimer s Disease? Does this not make sense even to me? Remind yourself that the dementia is the reason why you became their care partner in the first place.



If the person has progressed past the earlier stages of their dementia, then they do NOT know that they have a dementia. That s why care partnering for someone with this diagnosis can become so complicated. We try to get things done through our eyes, in our world, from our perspective, while they live in their own world, with their own interpretation, understanding and perspective of the very same situation. They oftentimes must think we re crazy .





Do they know they have Alzheimer s when:

  • They are looking for their mother?
  • Telling you they want to go home and they already are home?
  • When they want to get the kid s off the school bus or cook dinner for their deceased spouse?
  • When they re relieved that the pregnancy test came back negative and they re 83 years old!?


Do they know they have Alzheimer s when:

·         They do not remember your name or who you are?

·         They ask for a beer while standing at the nursing station thinking it s a bar?

·         They think they re on a cruise ship and they re actually on the second floor of a nursing home?

·         They tell you they re so sick and tired of feeding the damn chickens or telling the priest to shut-up as he consecrates the bread?


Do they know they have Alzheimer s when:

·         They think they re at work and they re at their Alzheimer day care program?

·         They re waiting for their car to get out of the shop and it s been there for two years or when they tell everyone they see that they re going home from the hospital on Friday and they ve been in the nursing home for five years?

·         Or when they tell you, you never talk to them, or feed them, or love them and then throw you out of their room?






Do they know they have Alzheimer s when:

·         They tell you funny stories from their past as if they re talking to an old friend from way back when.

·         When they swear or spit in public or when they forget their teeth or their underwear or when they tell someone they have a fat ass or when they introduce a total stranger as their spouse

·         Do they know they have Alzheimer s when they make you feel angry, frustrated or upset



In instances such as these and so very many more:

No they do not know they have Alzheimer s. And if they did know they wouldn t do or say or believe any of these things, and they especially would not want to make you feel badly or hurt your feelings.


Then why do we so often try to communicate with them as though they still have their cognition just like you and I? In order to care partner in a more effective, efficient, respectful and compassionate way, foremost in our mind should be their diagnosis.


Though it can be difficult, we need to enable them to live a

seemingly normal life within their dementia,

while at the same time constantly bearing in mind that

they do not understand normally, because of the dementia.



It s certainly a journey for everyone.

It takes practice, patience and the support of others; it takes learning how. It can be frustrating, annoying and tiring. Then one day they look at you with their beautiful wrinkled face and smile the most beautiful smile and say to you Thank you or I love you with all the warmth and sincerity that can last you a lifetime until the next day when they empty out the closet, overflow the toilet, call 911 again, or go roaming half undressed in the middle of the day!!




Important note: Finding the humor is a necessity!!



Creating Sensitivity to Alzheimer s

 Mal @TheirRealWorld.com


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