Some background:

My mother suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease (see an update), first noticed in 1998, and for many years lived in a memory/assisted living center. I’ve studied the disease, interviewed professionals, and blog about her on occasion, in hopes of helping myself, and others, learn about this horrible “long good-bye” disease. From the heartbreak of losing Mom, to the heartbreak and frustration of watching my dad cope with her decline, to participating in the Alzheimer’s Foundation fundraising walks, my sisters and I so often felt helpless.

In February 2006, in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, the lead character’s mother “woke up” from her Alzheimer’s Disease. I blogged about it at the time.

In my post, I stated that I could find no other reference anywhere online that cited an Alzheimer’s patient experiencing hours of lucidity.

Then, a few days ago, I heard from Loretta. I was stunned at her email. (Shared below.)

It seems, in fact, that this awakening, this seemingly unbelievable “coming to,” may not be unheard of after all. Is it possible that it happens more frequently than we think?  If there is nothing in the literature, can it be possible that researchers or scientists don’t know anything about it?

This possibility raises dozens of questions…. some of which we may explore on this page. I offer it as a resource for those of us who want to ask these questions, and perhaps find some answers, and to create a central location where we can begin learning more.

Please contact me, or comment below, if you’d like to join this discussion. I believe there may be others out there who have had this experience with their loved ones, but have somehow been told it wasn’t important, or it didn’t really happen — anything — to discount it.

I believe we can learn from them, although I’m not sure how. Maybe YOUR responses will give us some clues.

If you have had such an experience please write to me at blog(at)EPadvocate.com

So we’ll begin here, with Loretta’s story:
(September 2007)

I was doing some research on the Internet re: the possibility of a temporary “awakening” of an Alzheimer’s patient and came upon your blog. (Typed in “Grey’s Anatomy Alzheimer’s”). In your blog for Feb. 6, 2007 you stated that: “Nowhere in my research could I find anything that says an Alzheimer’s patient can redevelop the clarity that Ellis Grey did on the TV show.”

read more from Loretta

Then we heard from Francesco in Italy about his mother, too:
(November 2007)

Last week on an Italian TV Network they broadcasted the episode “Wishin’ and Hopin’ ” from the serial Grey’s Anatomy. I watched it and I was deeply moved from what happened to Ellis Grey, the mother of the main character.  Afterwards I surfed the Net for answers or comments and the only serious notes I could find about this issue was on your blog.

.. read more from Francesco….

Now we have a third documentation from Suzanne:
(October 2009)

My mom was diagnosed three years ago and for the past 8 months has been non communicative.  Her conversation was limited to nods, yes, no or same. Her Neuropsychologist indicated that the disease was progressing quickly.  All of the medications were not slowing the progression as anticipated.  It was difficult to see her at almost a vegetative state.

…. read more from Suzanne

…………………………………………..

Readers? Comments? Let’s get this conversation started!
Please write to me at blog(at)epadvocate.com

olderman

2 Comments

  1. donna May 27, 2008

    I tell you, when you are dealing with the care of an elderly parent who is sick and then has dementia or alzheimers on top of the sickness, it is horrific. My Mom was diagnosed about one year ago and the disease becomes worse every day. Not only does she have congestive heart failure and is 88, but she now suffers with alzheimers. She still knows who she is most of the time and who I am. But, everything else seems to be a problem for her. The patience that it takes for someone to care for a patient is unbelievable. I believe that you would have to be a saint not to lose it every now and then. But, the times when we lose it, we have to immediately turn around and pray for guidance and patience. As heartbreaking as this disease is on the family, just imagine the heartbreak your loved one must feel at times. My Mom is in and out of reality and I am not sure which is worse. I think for her, she knows enough while she is in reality to know that things are very wrong. Just pray. Just pray.

  2. Carol Wright August 7, 2008

    My mom has been dx’d with Alzheimer’s for about four years. She had hear surgery in 1998, back surgery the next year, a personal abuse trauma about perhaps 8 years ago…she took a nose dive after these episodes. I arrived to care for her 24/7 6.5 years ago. After 1.5 years, I got her on Zoloft, then my full time efforts started to pay off.

    Anyway the Alz dx was based on scans that eliminated the vascular causes and an hour long memory test, which I have to admit she flunked. So she was stamed Alzheimer’s which doomed her future.
    When she suffered a hip fracture and had to spend time in the nursing home, she went looney tunes cause of the painkillers. The doc said he’d also take her off Oxybutynin/Ditropan as that could also cause confusion. That stayed in my mind.
    As the symptoms for mom didn’t fit the bladder probls Mom was having, I sug to the dr if we could stop Oxybutynin for awhile to see if it helped memory. I noticed some improvements in about 3 weeks, which continued. I then got the courage to ask Mom if she noticed any improvement in her memory recently. And MOM popped out like a Jack in the Box. “Why Yes,” she said…”About a week ago, I noticed…” and proceeded to have a conversation, the first in ten years maybe. I almost fainted. After a few minutes, I got the camcorder and recorded it for history. There is so far another video of her reunion with her old friend Howard. More to come. You’ll find these “after” videos and many “before” videos on my CarolJWright YouTube channel. Also other Before videos on my AlzheimersCaregiver channel.
    When I wrote the doctor about this, she brushed me off with a “Glad your mother is feeling perkier. Have a nice summer.”

    After two weeks, mom’s “regular person” demeanor has maintained, and she’s learning words again slowly…learning to tell time, can count by fives, gets jokes, is more self sufficient, etc. I do not know full extent of permanent dementia, or if she can learn her way out of it totally.