Alzheimer's is a disease and a disability with abilities. Persons with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) seem to vary from day to day in their recall of loved ones’ names and faces. Such erratic fluctuating cognition is often puzzling and stressful to caregivers. This paper explores the possibility of conceptualizing AD as a “trip back in time” to help care partners understand the variation in an AD person’s memory, behavior, and physical abilities. Clinical observations suggest that these individuals experience a cognitive, emotional, social, physical and functional time travel with AD.
The “trip back in time” paradigm uses aspects of Piaget’s theory of adult development in reverse, Reisberg and associates FAST and GDS, and other cognitive, behavioral, and affective research on AD. Using past research to indicate how persons with AD tend to time travel in their functional abilities, the conceptualization goes further to advance a non-linear time travel model of AD. This paradigm of AD as a “trip back in time” uses connecting loops spiraling downward to depict the fluctuating traveling of the person back and forth through time. Previous theoretical frameworks have tended to rely solely on fixed stage models of AD. The insight this model provides will hopefully increase gerontologist/caregivers’ understanding and provide new ways to develop strategies to enhance future care partnering techniques.