Sep 2, 2015

Why People with Dementia Switch Back to the Past

I just finished reading an interesting article - Passage of time: why people with dementia switch back to the past - that I think you will find of interest.

Rather than trying to bring the person with dementia back to reality | Alzheimer's Reading Room

You can learn from the article and it might clear up some of the issues you are facing while caring for someone living with dementia.

Excerpts from the article.

How to best respond?

Rather than trying to bring the person with dementia back to reality, families and carers may try to enter their reality; building trust and empathy, and reducing anxiety. This is known as validation therapy but many families and carers will practise this technique without knowing its name.

Living in the past

There is a link between the perception of time and memory function in those with dementia. Family members often report their loved ones with dementia sometimes live in the past, even reverting back to first languages.

This is because memory is not just one process in the brain, but a collection of different systems. Those with Alzheimer’s disease may have impairments in short-term memory, however remote memory can be left relatively intact. So they’re able to remember public and personal events many decades ago, but unable to recall what happened earlier that day.

Time perception in dementia

Those diagnosed with dementia may underestimate time due to difficulties in recollecting all events in the short-term past, creating a feeling of a relative empty time travel.

Someone without dementia may remember the boy cycling his bike, the yellow car parked next to the shop, the noisy lawn mower, and the couple playing tennis, on their walk to the bus stop; while someone with dementia is likely to remember fewer of these events, creating the sense that less has occurred and therefore less time has past.

To read this fascinating article and learn more follow the link.

Passage of time: why people with dementia switch back to the past

Authors: Hannah Keage is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at University of South Australia. Tobias Loetscher is Lecturer: Psychology at University of South Australia.


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