The subjective perception of past, present, and future time in patients with Alzheimer's disease: a qualitative study

Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2018 Nov 22;14:3185-3192. doi: 10.2147/NDT.S186081. eCollection 2018.


Background: The relationship between dementia and time perception impairment is unknown.

Aim: This study aims to explore subjective perception of the passage of time in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD).

Methods: We conducted semi-structured interviews with 11 AD patients. Grounded theory, a qualitative research methodology, was used for data analysis.

Results: Based on interview transcripts, five categories were designated: {Live according to a private clock}, {The past comes up}, {Move back and forth between the present and the past}, {Cannot imagine the future}, and {Bid farewell to this world as early as tomorrow}.

Discussion: Our results suggest that AD patients alternate past and present without complete awareness and cannot imagine a future other than one ending in death.

Keywords: dementia; grounded theory; interview; mind time; neuropsychology; qualitative study.