During dementia, time becomes distorted or lost. Even the difference between day and night can become unclear. The sense of linear time is confused, and past and present can intermingle.

I think about time a lot; maybe because at my age its passing so fast. But then Einstein said time is relevant to the one perceiving it. “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.”

When we were young, we had less experiences to draw from, so we paid more attention; time moved slowly. Remember how waiting for that next birthday took forever? With age, the number of new experiences diminishes, so time moves more quickly; my birthdays pass very quickly now.

The brain can mentally create a sensory experience without any external stimuli. Like when we become immersed in a daydream; we lose track of time and the present moment. Sometimes get so lost in the past we relive it.

This commonly happens with advancing dementia only they may be gone longer or have trouble returning.

Emmet’s Journey: (Fiction by Katya De Luisa)

Emmet’s eyes were blankly fixed on the blaring television, playing a sitcom with loud canned laughter. The residents of the “Happy Trails Old Folks Home” were aimlessly milling around the poorly lit sitting room.

His attention was drawn to a bird singing in a tree outside the window. The Florida sun was beautiful and the garden inviting, but for some reason he felt afraid when he looked at the door that led outside.

Floating particles of dust were reflected in a sunbeam, and as he watched their movement, he thought how they looked like dancing snowflakes. He always liked the snow and the winter.

Emmet’s eyes gradually took on a faraway stare as he slipped away…

The wind blew white dunes of snow over the frozen surface of the lake where the North Carolina Mountains created a picture-postcard vision. Snowflakes were falling and no footprints marred the pristine white surface of the hill leading from the house down to the dock at the frozen lake.

Emmet had just received a brand-new sled and was about to take his maiden voyage. He tightened his cap and knotted his scarf. Then, belly to sled; he launched his red rocket down the hill. He felt the sharp sting of the cold wind on his face and the exhilaration and excitement mixed with fear at the increasing speed.

At the shore of the lake, the momentum shot him out onto the ice, traveling at the speed of light. The wind became silent and his screams of eight-year-old delight echoed in the stillness of the air.

Suddenly a deafening alarm sounded, bringing Emmet abruptly back to his wheelchair. He noticed a woman had attempted to go out the garden door. She looked confused as an aide led her away after resetting the alarm.

He vaguely remembered something about a bird, as he returned to staring at the tree with the now-empty branch.

What is perceived to be real, exists to the perceiver. Emmet has dementia and he traveled back in time. He was a child again, experiencing the cold, the snow and his excitement as though they were happening now. To Emmet the journey was quite real.

From my new book: “Journey through the Infinite Mind…the science and spirituality of dementia.”


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