Alzheimer’s patients are only moderately aware of their surroundings in the early stages on the disease but as the disease continues to progress, they become more unaware and can even become mute and uncommunicative. In the final stages of the disease, caregivers and loved ones struggle wonder about how much the patient is aware of and whether they are offering any comfort.
Every Alzheimer’s patient is different and a patient may be able to understand their surroundings at some level. He or she can do that by simply picking up on their caregiver’s body language or mood. Sometimes a patient may have an inexplicable moment of clarity when they will seemingly come out of their walled-off state and momentarily return to a state similar to their pre-dementia personality.
Most People With Alzheimer’s Don’t Know They Have It
Since it is a gradually progressing disease and affects the memory, most people who develop Alzheimer’s slip into it so gradually they do not notice it happening. (See Are Alzheimer’s patients aware they have it) Some who do know, also may be embarrassed, angry or in denial, which sometimes requires a real gentle and warm approach to helping them with their home care needs. In one moment, they will remember their loved ones and even call them by name but after that they slip back into the fogginess of the disease. Moments of clarity appear and disappear within a flash at a time.
Sometimes they have flashes of awareness but only for a split moment and then they are back to being forgetful. This explains why Alzheimer’s patients tend to wander off and get lost.
Alzheimer’s patients see the world differently than normal human beings. Differently does not mean lesser in any manner.