My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's 8 years ago. Her progression through the disease seemed to be moving quickly, her language was unintelligible and she needed help with all activities. She had a strong tilt backwards when she was standing, so needed to be held carefully, but could still walk.. She was very pleasant, and always willing to go for rides, or out to eat, but wasn't able to really engage with activities.
About 1 1/2 years ago she fell and had a cut on her head. Soon after that her eating habits changed. Feeding would take a couple of hours. She was losing the ability to swallow, particularly with liquids, and lost about 30 pounds over a four month period (120 pounds down to 90). In consultation with her doctors, we explored hospice and she qualified.
After we started hospice her weight stabilized, but we continued with hospice. After 15 months on hospice, she'd gone down to 80 pounds, but a couple months ago, she started to regain some abilities she had lost... she would try to feed herself and her appetite improved. (It can be messy because she doesn't always reach her mouth with a spoon or glass). She started standing on her own (which she hadn't done in a long, long time) and was even walking around on her own.. a little wobbly, and we were always very close to her in case she fell, but the distinct "tilt backwards" she used to have was almost gone. She's also a lot more vocal... sometimes she can talk literally for hours. This isn't a complete 180 in her behavior, and she's had periods of a few days at a time where she seemed to be more cognitive, but this has lasted close to a couple of months this time.
I'm thinking this is just a long phase in the unpredictable journey that is Alzheimer's, but her hospice nurse and doctors were surprised by these changes, so I thought I'd ask here if anyone else has seen changes like this.
There is certainly a lot we don't know about these terrible dementia diseases!
My Dad is in the late stages of Lewy Body Dementia. He was diagnosed 4 years ago. We moved him to a nursing home two months ago and he is also tended by hospice. For the past year he has been going steadily downhill. He could not dress himself, could not use the toilet by himself, could barely feed himself and had to have help with that because he could not hold his utensils correctly or easily. He needed help from at least one person when walking most of the time. He had a very stooped posture and terrible sundowning. He has been in that same state, and at times worse, since moving to the nursing home. On Friday when my Mom and I visited we arrived during the lunch hour due to some other errands. We entered the dining room and there he was at his table, no wheelchair in sight. He was happy to see us, was sitting up straight and talked to us. When his meal arrived (veal parmesan, thick noodles, a vegetable and dessert) he ate every single bite on his own, using the fork correctly. He was able to pick up his tea glass and drink by himself. He was able to stand up on his own when he was done and walked back to his room by himself! He carried on a conversation while we visited. On Sunday he was in much the same mood. He was able to walk to the common room where we sat and talked while he ate cookies and drank hot chocolate. Some of his conversation was about things and people that didn't exist, but he was still talking to us. When we took him back to his room he didn't want to go to sleep right away, which was a little out of the ordinary.
I know this is just a phase, particularly because LBD is like that. One day the person can be almost normal, the next day back down into the terrible state they were in the day before. This can even happen from hour to hour. But this was the first time in months that Dad has been this lucid and this receptive. This will make it just that much worse when he falls back into the grip of the disease.