This study’s conclusion that memory is not lost but is somehow "locked in" prompted me to write with my own experience. For the last 10 years of his life, my father lived in a care home near mine and I saw him daily.
Initially he had Parkinson disease, but in the years that followed he suffered from a series of mini-strokes and eventually cancer. During this time he also suffered from senility—whether strictly speaking Alzheimer's or not I can't say—but he was increasingly confused, forgetful, and entirely unable to carry out the most basic self care, so that ultimately he was asleep virtually all the time, waking only to be fed, and speaking very rarely.
By the time he spent his last Christmas day with us at home, he was in a most pathetic state, and had not spoken more than a word or two in many months. At 5 p.m., as we were sitting around him after opening presents, we had a most odd experience. He suddenly "came to life."
It was as though someone had flipped a switch in his brain, and for the next 45 minutes he laughed and chatted and “remembered,” and we watched...