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Earlier in the ALZ with my dad and even now sometimes, it appears he has enough wits to not want to admit he doesn't recognize someone, so will act like he does. And sometimes it turns out he does but in other cases it appears he was too proud to act like he did not recognize the person.
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This is JUST my opinion, but, I think that people who have dementia, still feel vibes from people, especially, those who love them and who seem friendly. That may illicit in them a sense of warmth and caring, so they seem to be familiar and they react to that. And they may still have a subconscious connection to the person as well, even though, they don't recall the name or their personal information.
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I remember when my Mom was in long-term-care and was in final stages of dementia. I use to smile whenever I visited and she called me by my name. That felt great, Mom knew who I was....

But one day a Staff person came into Mom's room and Mom called that person using my name. Oh dear, Mom was thinking everyone was me, or maybe she just had memory of my name.
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My 96-year-old dad, who has had Alzheimer's dementia for many years, seems to "know" who I am, but often who I am to him is one of his deceased brothers or, more recently, his own dad, who died more than 50 years ago. I don't know if he has the capacity to pretend to know who people are, but I do know that he recognizes me (and my wife) as someone who helps him. And that he's friendly with anyone who takes the time to talk to him and that he will talk to them as if he knows them, whether it's the first time he's ever seen them or not. So, while the question of whether there is "pretending" involved is interesting, perhaps the more relevant question is whether visitors make him happy for at least the time they are visiting him. If the answer is "yes," as in my dad's case, then visiting is a good thing and it doesn't matter that as soon as a visitor leaves he doesn't remember ever having that visitor. And in addition to visitors momentarily making someone happy, having visitors lets caregivers, be they staff or family, know that they are taking care of someone who is important to the visitors, which is also good. In short, visiting is a good thing, whether or not there is any pretending involved.
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I can remember mom and I visiting with my great aunt many years ago, we had a lovely visit chatting about family and friends and activities in the nursing home etc, but something my aunt said when we were leaving made it clear she had no idea who we were. lol
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I'd say yes, of course they can. We all do it to some extent. Someone comes up to us at a party and acts as if they know us.... and we play along because we don't want to be rude. For my mom, I think she doesn't want to admit she doesn't know someone so unless you ask her point blank she will pretend she knows.
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For some time, my maternal grandmother was able to recognize me ... but it took some reminders (my mentioning my son, her great-grandson was most effective). After a point, it was clear she could no longer recognize me, nor did she remember she even had a great-grandson ... but she did appear to appreciate my calls as some kind of vague friend.
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I don't think so but my observation is that they do not like being alone and are happy to have a visitor
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I don't think people with Alzheimer's have the capacity to pretend. They may just go with the flow if they don't recognize you but to pretend I think requires the thinking ability that they just don't have anymore. If you were to ask them "do you know me?" I don't think they would say yes if they didn't feel they knew you. I guess it depends on what stage they are in too. Others on here probably would know better than I do but that's my answer for what it's worth.
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