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My Dad was diagnosed with AD about 4 years ago. He began with hallucinations and has progressed to a point where he has very little dexterity -- needs help getting dressed, has problems with silverware, needs help going to the bathroom, etc. One day he'll know what the straw in his water bottle is, the next day he can't find it even though he's looking right at it. He has severe sundowning. My Mom told me that today, when she took him to his room to watch the news after lunch, he told her that he'd never been in that room before. Today after dinner when I was visiting, I took him back to watch the news (the only thing he watches any more) and he stopped at the threshold of the room and said "I guess they took my room away from me". When I told him it WAS his room he seemed surprised. At the same time, Dad's memory seems pretty clear about events and people from 50 years ago! He'll come up with something even my Mom hasn't thought of in years. I know that the stages of AD differ among people. Are there others out there that have loved ones with AD who can still remember the distant past with clarity but have trouble with the present?

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Yes. It is very common to lose short-term memory and retain long-term memory.

In viewing scrapbooks with my mother I notice she relates very well to the book about her brothers and sisters and their families, especially the pictures when they were in their 20s. And she remembers more about her nieces and nephew than she seems to about her grandchildren. The strongest point in her memory now seems to be when she was a young adult and mother. She is a great-grandmother, but that part of her life is less clear to her.

It is interesting that you dad started with hallucinations. I don't think that is typical of Alzheimer's. It is typical of Lewy Body Dementia. All dementia fluctuates some, but LBD is called the roller-coaster disease because fluctuations are a hallmark of that disease. One day he knows what a straw is and can use it, the next day (or even next meal) a straw is completely foreign. Yup.
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I have a patient with dementia who can remember nothing from age 18 until now (she's 85). She was a teacher, she traveled extensively, she owned a beautiful home in a historic part of town but when asked to share some of her experiences as a teacher she can only talk about her own parents who were teachers. When asked about her lovely home she can only talk about the farm where she grew up. It's like her entire adult life is gone but she can talk for hours about the house where she grew up and her brothers and sisters and parents. I think it's incredibly sad.
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I'm wondering if anyone else has had this experience....My husband was diagnosed with dementia/alzheimer's about 2 years ago. Had a "minor" stroke recently that weakened one leg so he must now use a walker. I still care for him at home. He's very mild mannered now and easy to be with. But now his conversations are a combination of his old memories, things he's read in the newspaper, things that happened to his friends and parts of old movies he watched. He's adopted all of those things into his bank of memories as if they happened to him. He watches tv in his recliner a lot now. He was a high-powered executive all of his working career. We have 6 wonderful adult children and a dozen grandkids who adore him. They visit often and understand his mental problems, so never challenge him when he's talking about a past experience of his which they know is a combination of these elements.
Shirley B.
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Hells, yes, it's common. My dad can still tell us how to get cross-country to CA, but can't remember what he read 2 chapters ago. I've learned more about my dad's childhood on & around farms in CA & I think NC in the past month, than I have in the prior 30 years.
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Yes, this is quite typical. So, here's something to consider doing with your dad: ask him questions about his youth... go through old photos and have him tell you about them...

When my Mom makes comments similar to your father about her room, I gently touch her arm and say "Momma, we are in your room" and then I'll point to some of her prized possessions that she has in her room as a reminder.
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